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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Shirts from afar shout colorful fashion statement

By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer

Srue Preston, left, and her mother, Neime Preston, model conservative versions of the appliqued Micronesian skirts that are becoming popular here. Their lei po'o come from Pohnpei, and their Kili handbags are from the Marshall Islands.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

. . .

Fashion Calendar

• In the show, "Beadz, Beadz, Beadz!" some of the state's most creative bead artists — Alethian Donathan, Barbara Edelstein, Patricia Greene, Mary Kamiya, Alicia Kawano Oh, Joel Park, Charlene Tashima and Ann Teruya — present their latest wearable art. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays, through Sept. 27 at The Gallery at Ward Centre. Free. 597-8034.

• Island Moments by Emme Fashion Show features celebrity guests Maunalua, Keahiwai, DisGuyz and Forte, who will model the newest designs. Noon, Saturday at Island Attitudes, Macy's in Ala Moana Center. Free. 945-5894.

• Ku'u Home Crafts Demonstrations features lauhala weaving, feather lei making, deco clay accessories and petroglyph art by local artists. Customers can create their own petroglyph art on fabric. Noon-2 p.m., Saturday, Ku'u Home in Macy's, Ala Moana Center. Free. 945-5894.

Send announcements to: Fashion Calendar, c/o Paula Rath, Island Life, Honolulu Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802. Fax: 525-8055.

There are some colorful flowers blooming on the streets of Honolulu. They're on skirts that combine the fashion-forward homespun appliqué look with bright (really bright) colors and an ethnic edge.

We first spotted these skirts at a bus stop on Beretania Street near The Honolulu Academy of Arts. We put the word out, and friends reported sightings at Star Market in Mo'ili'ili and the Pali Highway Longs Drugs. Where do they come from? Who's making them? We made it a mission to track them down.

After months of searching, we learned that Neime Preston, owner of The Neime Co., buys the skirts from women in the Federated States of Micronesia for friends and family.

Preston said it was actually her husband, Dr. Henry Preston, a physician at Straub Clinic & Hospital, who discovered the skirts. He saw them in Pohnpei and bought them for his wife and daughters. When Neime wore her skirt in Honolulu, friends coveted it.

Unexpectedly, Preston learned that her daughter's mother-in-law, Filolina Irons, is among the seamstresses who make them.

Having made this connection, Preston ordered them for her store in Pohnpei from three seamstresses who live in Chuuk (formerly Truk) and Pohnpei (formerly Ponape).

The style originates from Chuukese pillowcases. They originally were created as simple thread "paintings" and evolved into applique. Motifs include flowers, mountains, leaves and stylized faces. Fabrics are poly/cottons, and colors are bright and contrasting. A chartreuse background, for example, may be splashed with red, teal and yellow flowers.he style is a simple pull-on, elastic-waist skirt that comes in sizes small, medium and large for girls and women. They are usually worn with a solid T-shirt, though some of the flirty new tees with lace edges or trims would add fashionable flair.

The Chuukese seamstresses are introducing culottes with appliqués near the hems.

Although Preston would like to offer the skirts to Hawai'i retailers, she said, the supply is too unpredictable because the Micronesian makers put the skirts together at an uneven rate.

Skirts cost $25 to $38, plus shipping and insurance. They can be ordered via e-mail: neimet@aol.com.

Style innovations are not new to Preston. She wore a Micronesian ginger lei at her wedding in 1980, and is often credited with starting that trend in Hawai'i.