Archive for January, 2008

‘Open Your Tansu’ sneak preview

January 29th, 2008

Cathy & Emma

Nadine Kam photos
Cathy Sumimoto, left, and Emma Wo wear creations by Kimono Samba’s Chieko Yamaguchi. Cathy’s dress is made from fabric from a wedding obi. Yamaguchi will be back to show with her students at the Japanese Women’s Society fashion show, “Open Your Tansu.”

After spending a day on Maui, I left early Sunday morning, Jan. 27, to make it over to the Japanese Women’s Society Foundation’s new year Shinnen Enkai celebration at Natsunoya Tea House on Alewa Heights. I felt like I was on “Amazing Race” hoping timing would be good. It wasn’t so good when the company called to pick me up at Four Seasons never showed at 7:20 a.m., then said the pickup time that had been arranged was 9:45 a.m. Well, my flight was to leave at 9, so that wouldn’t do.

Made it over to the airport by taxi, where the lines waiting to get through inspection were as long as those to any big concert or Black Friday sale. Yuck. Honolulu departures are easy by comparison except they really seem to be suspicious of laptop computers. Luckily, once on Oahu I was out and running and in a taxi en route home by 10. I live a couple blocks down the hill from the teahouse, so walking there for the 10:30 a.m. event was fairly easy. I figured it was close from having driven past there before, but what I didn’t get from being in a car is that, true to the Heights name, it was all uphill.


Chieko Yamaguchi showed how her modern interpretations of kimono can be worn with traditional kimono, as worn from left by Yutaka Shiomi, Sadako Miyashiro and Tamae Oshiro.

The event offered a sneak preview of the society’s April 13 fashion show, “Open Your Tansu.” Just as the name implies, it’s an invitation to dig into your closets and chests to discover what kimono and obi have been stored away, just waiting to be reborn as a new garment. Among the models were JWS members and beauty queens Cathy Sumimoto, Emma Wo and Aureana Tseu.

Chieko teaches the art of giving birth to new designs through informal classes in Japan, working under the name Kimono Samba. She doesn’t sell her work, but empowers women to try it on their own, saying it involves mostly cutting, very little sewing, and involves no modern fasteners such as buttons or zippers. A lot of the work is held together by tying pieces together. She’ll be back with her students for the April show.

Nadine Kam videosChieko Yamaguchi demonstrates Kimono Samba style.Traveling with Chieko was Hanako Yuuki, below, who practices the art of kirigami or cutting paper. Her hat is covered with nuno hearts and topped with a bird. The little pieces of fabric art are sewn from kimono remants so that no piece of these beautiful silks goes to waste. Here’s a Yuuki’s kirigami demonstration on video:

Four Seasons commits to fine arts and cultural tourism

January 28th, 2008

four seasons

View from my lanai at the Four Seasons Wailea.

Spent a couple of days on Maui working on a story at the lovely Four Seasons Wailea, one of those places conducive to overall well-being. The few times I’m able to make it to Maui, I feel compelled to go there because of those kinds of associations of feeling at peace with the world. Try getting a noontime table at Ferraro’s overlooking the ocean, and you’ll probably end up feeling the same way.


This is my suite. Just kidding! A print by Madge Tennent is juxtaposed with a woven basket by Mika McCann.

The reason for my trip was for a look at the resort’s unprecedented new art collection, curated by Julie Cline, focusing on contemporary work by Hawaii artists. You will hear more about this when I complete my print story, but for now, let’s just say no detail or nook has been overlooked in public and private spaces. Even the rec rooms, with their video games, pool, air hockey and foosball tables, have become “galleries,” linked by the fun ideas of surf and fashion.

One of the pieces on view is designer Sherry Holt’s Wiggle Dress, circa 1970s, and Holt was there to talk about her creation. For those who may remember, Holt worked for Lauhala Sportswear and her work with prints brought her a lot of attention when her garments found their way into Bloomingdale’s, Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and the national media. In store appearances, Holt recalled often hearing negative comments along the lines of “Go back to Hawaii,” and “No one is going to wear prints,” but she proved her naysayers wrong.

Sherry Holt talks about creating her ruched, draped Wiggle Dress.

She later designed for OP and the Beach Boys, and continues to create a “young American” western-style line called Desert Diva, as well as a line under her own name.

I was just reading a story in the Economist or New Yorker about how, no matter how many hotels are built in New York City, there’s never enough because tourists keep coming in search of art, food, fashion and other aspects of cultural tourism. That should be something local tourism professionals and our visitor bureau should be paying attention to because the days of easy money in tourism are over. The Four Seasons has taken a step in the right direction and with the focus on Hawaii’s vibrant contemporary arts scene, this may be just the move needed to push our living artists into the international arena, considering the caliber and spending power of those who stay at the resort. This will be very interesting to watch.

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