By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer
Honolulu Community College and the University of Hawai'i-Mānoa will both hold their graduation fashion shows next weekend.
At HCC, eight senior students will strut their stuff on the runway as celebrity judge Jay Nicolas Sario, now in competition on the seventh season of "Project Runway," checks out how they "make it work."
At UH-Mānoa, six graduating seniors will show their collections.
Two students have created not only their garments, but their textiles. Each is inspired by her cultural roots. Each hand-paints and embellishes her own textiles for a unique fashion statement. Each uses materials and styles appropriate to their culture but crafts them into contemporary designs for the runway.
Meet Eri Takebayashi and Sina Thomsen.
When Eri Takebayashi, 25, of Makiki presents her line, Phantasmagoria, at the UH-Mānoa show, it will have a hint of her native Japan and a lot of edge.
Takebayashi began studying textiles in the art department but became frustrated when she found herself with stacks of creative fabrics but not the knowledge to create garments with them. She transferred to the fashion department to learn how to take a textile from flat to finished garment.
Takebayashi's surface design and her silhouettes are innovative, chic and unexpected. One ensemble is a hand-painted, thigh-high body suit with a silk organza skirt that zips off around the waist. On closer inspection, one can see that there are princess seams sewn into the body suit — with zippers used as piping.
Takebayashi's distinctive textile paintings are subtle and beautiful. Regarding her process, she explained, "I draw a line on paper and I can picture it on the garment. I have an image in my mind."
Takebayashi will expand her knowledge and skills this summer as an intern to the tailor who creates the wardrobes for the emperor and empress of Japan.
HCC graduating senior Sina Thomsen, 22, of Waipahu, was born and grew up in Honolulu, but her family's roots are in Western Sāmoa. Growing up, she spent every summer in Western Sāmoa with her grandmother, where all the women in her family hand-paint fabrics right in Gramma's driveway.
Thomsen's senior collection is called Tuluma, after the container that holds a tattoo artist's tools. Each member of her family has a similar tattoo, and her textile designs are inspired by them.
She uses an upeti (wooden board with carved design) to create a woodblock print on the fabric. The Polynesian printing method is called elei.
She uses only natural fibers, usually cotton and linen.
Although her surface design is traditional, Thomsen's silhouettes are contemporary: "Something my friends and I would wear. A dress you would just like to throw on and go. I call it effortless style," Thomsen said. She designs for the Polynesian woman with curves who isn't afraid to show them off.
Thomsen also created a line for men, with classic suits, shirts and pants in her hand-painted textiles.