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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 16, 2002

A festive, south-of-the-border ensemble

By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer

Willow Chang, an entertainer and a dance teacher, costume designer and founder of Passport Productions, is about to complete her master's in dance at the University of Hawai'i. She chose the Frida Kahlo look — with elements of folk and Mexican wear — for her trend.

Willow Chang likes the visual effect of her small top and long skirt. She found the hand-painted, vintage Mexican circle skirt at a garage sale in Texas.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Kahlo was a Mexican artist who lived from 1907 to 1954. Her life was one of passion and drama, and her colorful costumes reflected her personality.

Q. Why did you choose this look?

A. "Certain elements speak to me. It's feminine and allows me to incorporate my personal style. It speaks to beauty in the pageantry of life."

Q. What features do you love?

A. "It's a celebratory way of dressing. Also, you can draw the eye to any component of the body. The proportion is interesting, with a small top and long skirt. And, gee, there's been so much skin showing lately. This looks fresh because it's different."

Q. Where did you first see the trend?

A. "My first exposure to Frida Kahlo was in high school, when the buzz in the art community turned to her. It's not just her look, but her life that appeals to me. She's an iconographic, strong woman."

Q. Where did you find it?

A. "The skirt is a vintage Mexican circle skirt from the 1950s that is hand-painted and beaded. It was a find from the Austin, Texas, 'City Wide Garage Sale.' The top is from Ever Blue Casuals and cost $11. The belt is tooled leather from Austin, Texas, and the bracelets were discovered at the Indian Powwow at Thomas Square."

Q. Are these your dream items or did you have to compromise?

A. "The skirt and belt were real finds. Collecting is a process. After you've been collecting for a while, you find you can put something old with something new and it can all work together."

Q. What would you wear it with?

A. "High heels prevent it from looking frumpy. The peasant blouse would look great with jeans. It's a great piece because it's youthful without looking childish."

Q. Where would you wear it?

A. "To an art opening, church or a luncheon."

Q. Where would you never wear it?

A. On a first date. It might be a little over the top and make too much of a statement for a first impression. I wouldn't wear it anywhere where it might get dirty."

Q. What's a no-no?

A. "The wrong shoe — a white shoe or a combat boot. Also the wrong undergarments, or straps showing. You can't over-accessorize this look — adding a hat would be too much."