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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, March 12, 2006

Fighting Eel dresses hit big time in N.Y. Times, Lucky

By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer

Lucky's March issue features Honolulu-based Fighting Eel's "Dress Sail," which nods to spring's nautical look. Four O'ahu boutiques sell it.

Fighting Eel

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Rona Bennett and Lan Chung, Honolulu-based designers of the Fighting Eel line of clothing, were surprised to learn that their Dress Dukes design was featured in the Sunday New York Times on Feb. 26.

"I didn't even know about it until my sister-in-law, who lives in New York, called me to tell me," said Bennett, breathlessly.

The sleeveless dress, in black, brown or purple jersey with vintage African print trim, has been selling well at Searle, a New York chain of shops, Bennett explained. Searle featured the dress in an ad in New York magazine, and they have sold 900 of the style since then.

New Yorkers like the Dress Dukes because it seems seasonless. It also works for many different body types, as well as a wide range of ages. To illustrate its versatility, The New York Times showed it worn dressy with high heels, a casual tunic over jeans and an edgy jumper with cowboy boots.

In another fashion-media coup, Fighting Eel's Dress Sail is featured in the March issue of Lucky magazine. It offers an updated take on the nautical look, one of spring's key trends.

Fighting Eel is sold in more than 120 stores on the Mainland but only at a handful of locations in the Islands. Sadly, the popular Dress Dukes was not picked up by any local retailers. Dress Sail, however, is being sold on O'ahu at Mary Z's in Kailua, Crazy Beautiful in Restaurant Row and Koko Cabana in Koko Marina Center, as well as through www.rafaelhawaii.com.


In another nod to Honolulu as a fashion destination, Vogue's March issue picked Aloha Rag as a "Hot Spot" to shop. Vogue said of the hip little boutique, at 1221 Kapi'olani Blvd. and www.aloharag.com: "Combining an indie spirit with bigger names, this is the only place in Hawai'i where you can go for Tom Binns skull earrings and wind up with a Balenciaga bag."

Soon to arrive at Aloha Rag: Gwen Stefani's women's wear for her L.A.M.B. label.


The Chinese Chamber of Commerce was treated to a rocking runway show by Fendi last week. The Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom was transformed into a Milanese spectacle as models showed off Karl Lagerfeld's spring/summer collection for the Italian fashion house.

White was unquestionably the color of the moment, but unusual shades of blue as well as some watercolor prints (some muted, others bright) made a statement.

Known in the past primarily for its furs, Fendi is now offering a full-on ready-to-wear collection. Stretch denim in solids and stripes had the fit and flare of the '50s. High-tech fabrics in complex constructions provided contrast with feminine scallops, petal trims and Peter Pan collars. Dotted Swiss and white pique contrasted with edgy leathers, but every piece had the femininity and mystery of film stars of past decades.

Furs took on a new life in flirty capes with little fur flowers in demure curves that defined seams and stripes. Sexy twin sets also were embellished with tiny multicolored fur details.

While last year's "it" bag, the Spy bag, was present, this year's lusted-after B bag is still in transit, but Fendi promised it will be here soon. There already is a considerable waiting list, headed up by some of Honolulu's best-dressed women.


A new cable TV show, produced by Julie Aragaki and hosted by Shawnee Hammer, airs at 7:30 p.m. Mondays on OC16. The target audience is women 18 to 24 and the plan is to cover fashion, restaurants, night life and local celebrities.

The first program featured an interview with Deirdre Garland of Sachi Designs, a peek at the Louis Vuitton party at the Kaka'ako Pump Station and a tour of the host's home.


At 870 Kapahulu Ave. (former site of Turbo Surf), the hot new shop features locally designed and produced apparel, jewelry, sports gear and surfboards. Butigroove, founded by BJ Sabate, blends the designer's passions for fashion (beauty) and music (groove). With rhythm as his inspiration, musician Sabate has created clothing for men and women.

Fokai is an action sports label distributed by Richard Chou that designs products "known from the reef to the cage; from surfing to martial arts and beyond."

Keoki Ching's surfboards will round out the store's offerings. Ching has been shaping boards for 13 years while working as a consultant for the Bishop Museum, ocean education specialist and marine biology researcher. Store hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.


View the latest collections from the hottest designers, including the new Karl Lagerfeld collection, during the Hip Event for all things spring at Neiman Marcus Friday and Saturday.

An Emilio Pucci trunk show will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Jewelry designer Linda Bergman will be there to show her latest collection from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both days.

On Saturday, designer Cynthia Steffe will make an appearance to show her spring collection at 5 p.m. Free, but reservation required: 951-3463.

Also on Saturday, Marie Lynch of DKNY will offer a wardrobing seminar at 2 p.m. No reservation is required for this one.


The Shufu Society of Hawai'i will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a luncheon and "Jewelry as Art" fashion show from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 19 in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel's Regency Room.

Original jewelry by local designer Kensei Takeda, owner of Chez Kensei hair salon, will be presented. The show has sold out.

The Shufu Society is a nonprofit organization seeking to introduce cultural activities and advocating mutual understanding through communication.

Reach Paula Rath at prath@honoluluadvertiser.com.