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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 31, 2003

Fashion in bloom

• Simple, single can make your bouquet shine

By Paula Rath
Advertiser Fashion Writer

Bernard Tristan Foong, center, fused East and West for a hip, modern take on a Chinese wedding.

Jerry Mayfield • Special to The Advertiser

"Maui's flowers look like they're on steroids!' said Rene van Rems into the microphone as he dramatically waved a humongous baby-blue hydrangea in the air.

The Dutch-born floral designer /horticulturist, who has been making his mark in the San Diego area for two decades, was on hand for a fashion show at the Fairmont Kea Lani Resort in Wailea earlier this month to offer up an entertaining mix of caustic wit and floral wisdom. The event: "Growing Dreams," a fashion and floral fantasy in support of Maui Youth and Family Services.

Flowers and fashion for weddings took center stage. Rems gave groundbreaking advice on floral display — advising the use of a unique, single flower as a bouquet, for example (see box, Page E3). Maui designers Diane Lane and Bernard Tristan Foong created vignettes to show off their creations, Lane's emphasizing hand-painted, flowing silk and Foong's sexy and culture-fusing. Barbara Cipro, manager of Nell, a fashion-forward boutique in the Fairmont Kea Lani, showed the sellout crowd ensembles for a bridal shower, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, travel clothes and a tropical honeymoon.

Unique silks

Lane's hand-painted silks are a far cry from the mass-produced pieces coming out of China these days, which often take a paint-by-number approach. She stretches her silk on a specially made table and applies the dyes like a fine artist painting on canvas.

Lane spent years in advertising. She turned to art when she retired, along with her husband, Ed Lane, now a prominent Maui painter. While Ed turned to canvas and oils as his media, Lane chose silk, hand painting one-of-a-kind creations.

Using high-quality French dyes and brushes, Lane meticulously creates works of art, paying attention not only to the floral image, but to the composition, background and colors. While her earlier creations were predominately bold, deep tropical hues, Lane's custom wedding collection is designed in concert with each bride and is often soft, feminine and flowing.

Lane's first wedding vignette for "Growing Dreams" was inspired when a niece chose her grandmother's 1920s cream silk wedding dress for a modern-day wedding. For the designer, the 1920s invoked bias cuts, elongated waists, tiny pleats and hip sashes. Lane painted silk under-blouses with gold and pink flowers to peek out from sashed chemises with hand-sewn silk roses, and made straps with rhinestones.

Tina Glen Jordan of Makena modeled an original Lane wedding dress that Jordan had worn, featuring Jordan's favorite color, lavender, and the bride's signature flower, a lotus blossom. The artful lotus was painted on silk chiffon, which floated over a silk crepe slip dress. Attendants wore pale green painted with calla lilies.

The bride's hand-tied bouquet included sprigs of lavender, sterling roses and a crown flower lei. Her attendants carried simple calla lilies with pale green ribbons, echoing the flowers on their dresses.

Here's a thought for second-time brides: Lane tactfully chose the term "encore wedding" for a couple celebrating a second trip to the altar.

Asian fusion

Foong, designer of "Fire Dragon," created a sexy, smoldering, cutting-edge wedding vignette inspired by the Chinese penchant for red wedding gowns and the Western way with white.

Foong said his goal was to "free women from the tyranny of the corset and crinoline and to celebrate the feminine aspect" by offering a soft silhouette in silk charmeuse and chiffon.

Seamstress Rhonda Glass, a recent arrival to Maui, took Foong's sketches and sewed up bias-cut dresses. She put them on a dress form and Foong slashed and cut them to create sexy low bodices, "up-to-there" slits and asymmetrical hemlines. Glass then did all the finish work for the six models' slinky gowns.

The Malaysian-born Foong has a 25-year fashion background. He studied fashion design at the Royal College of Art in London and worked in the bridal department at Liberty of London. In Hong Kong he designed lingerie for a company that did private-label merchandise for Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's and Victoria's Secret. He also taught pattern drafting, fashion and costume design at Hong Kong Polytechnic Institute. He went on to teach fashion at the University of Wisconsin and in Malaysia.

He came to Hawai'i to study for a master's degree in theatrical costuming, which he achieved in 1996 while teaching fashion classes at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa. After arriving in Maui in 1997, he worked for four years as a fine artist before returning to fashion design to create his own line, Fire Dragon, which is manufactured in Hong Kong.

Foong plans to open a Fire Dragon boutique on Jan. 25, 2004, (an auspicious date, he explained, falling on the third day of the Chinese New Year) at the Shops at Wailea.

• • •

Simple, single can make your bouquet shine

The latest look in bouquets is simple and often single, according to Rene van Rems, renowned floral designer/horticulturist.

Consider one pink heliconia slung over a bride's shoulder. That's the technique van Rems used with a model at Maui's "Growing Dreams" fashion show, for a "Huck Finn goes to the prom" effect.

Protea adapt well to this approach. Van Rems simply tied an organza bow on a pink protea, put it in the hands of a model in a floral sun dress, and wow!

Using smaller black mink protea, he tied three together with raffia for a model wearing basic black.

Other bouquets included a single sunflower, a spray of vanda orchids, a bird of paradise and a single huge hydrangea.

Van Rems also gave advice for designing a floral centerpiece for a wedding or other reception. It's easy to forget that a person might want to see, and converse with, people on the other side of the table. A solution: Create a low arrangement at the base of a vase and add three tall stalks such as bird of paradise or heliconia.

Assisted by Janet Kosaka, former owner of Varsity Flowers, Van Rems created bouquets for each model, centerpieces and dramatic arrangements that were auctioned to raise money for Maui Youth & Family Services at "Growing Dreams."