Archive for May, 2010

Amazing lace

May 21st, 2010

Nadine Kam photos

This is a gorgeous 17th century lace fragment from Italy. Just left of center you can see two figures dressed in panels of lace.

Sara Oka, collection manager of textiles at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, couldn’t have come up with a more titillating title for a new exhibition than “Men in Lace.” Sure enough, ladies and gents showed up in droves for a preview of the show during a Members Appreciation night on May 19.

The exhibition will remain on view in Gallery 22 through Oct. 10, giving all frill seekers plenty of opportunity to see the show.

The bulk of the academy’s 300-piece lace collection was a gift of the museum’s founder, Anna Rice Cooke. About 40 of the items are on display here, along with paintings, drawings, prints and costumes from the museum’s other collections, that illuminate dress standards 400 years ago, when men wore the lace in the family.

Honolulu Academy of Arts collection manager of textiles Sara Oka, outside the exhibition on preview night.

Oka said that night, that, though beautiful to look at, viewing dozens of laces at once can be repetitive, and calling the exhibition, “Men in Lace,” offers a fun approach to the subject, while putting the history of lace and lace-making in context. Rather than a symbol of frilly femininity that it is today, lace from the 1700s represented power and manliness. At a time when all lace was made by hand, the intricate patterns took a long time to create, making it a rare and precious commodity that only the rich and powerful could obtain.

According to notes accompanying the displays, many historians believe lace-making grew out of linen embroidery. Drawing out threads, cutting threads, or pulling threads from woven cloth created open spaces that were then covered with a variety of stitches. Eventually, the patterns were freed from the ground cloth.

These days, it seems the only men who wear lace—uncloseted anyway—are entertainers, and even then, lace on stage seemed to have its biggest surge in the early 1980s.

Not in the show, but I took a moment to ponder who my favorite men in lace might be. Prince, circa 1984, and Adam Ant, circa 1981. Honestly though, it would be difficult to date a man in lace because that would indicate someone who probably obsesses more about clothes than relationships. It would not be restful.

The evening wasn’t all about lace, though. A lot of people were there to see William Blake’s Engravings of the Book of Job, which will be on view through Sept. 12, 2010.

And, as soon as I arrived, I spotted ceramist Rochelle Lum in the courtyard, set up at a table to help guests create their own ceramic objects. It was going to be messy, but I had to join in.

Artist Rochelle Lum with some of her clay menagerie, plus pieces created by guests that evening, waiting to be fired in a soda kiln.

Alas, the last time I was good at building with clay was when I was about 8 years old. At that age, one tends to have more imagination than inhibition, a requisite for creativity. After that, you start heeding too many rules, learning technique, what’s right and what’s wrong, growing self-conscious and second-guessing yourself.

So, in about a quarter of the time it took for me to produce a tortured, overworked turkey and turtle, this other woman came up, and with a squish squish here and a squish squish there, ended up with rough but adorable facsimiles of an armadillo and pig. Oh!

The academy is great at combining education with fun. The “Men in Lace” exhibition will be accompanied by a costume station where visitors can try on lace ruffs, collars and cuffs, from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays and 1 to 3 p.m. Sundays.

Museum goers study one of the ensembles on display.


Hats off to CWCH and designers

May 21st, 2010

Nadine Kam photos
Miss Hawaii Teen USA 2010 Julianne Chu wears one of the designs presented by Katrina Bodnyk Langford.

There were plenty of moms in the house at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel Monarch Room when the Chinese women’s Club of Honolulu presented its annual scholarship/welfare lunch show, “Hats Off to Milady,” the day before Mother’s Day.

Guests who beat the morning’s Filipino Fiesta parade traffic into Waikiki were able to shop for last-minute gifts at the event’s Country Store and silent auction before the lunch and fashion show began.

I liked the attempt to put more healthful vegetables on the plate, which took the form of a mound of pureed peas and another of Chinese taro to substitute for the usual fallback of a carb-laden potato.

The show opened with a second look at designs by Jay Sario, presented during the Honolulu Community College fashion show a few weeks back. Of course the ambience and crowd were very different!

Next up came a breezy collection of billowy silk dresses and tops by Katrina Bodnyk Langford, followed by a 1970s-styled retro collection marking the debut of Estelle Green.

Headlining the show were 2Couture’s Takeo and Eric Chandler, who showed evening, day and men’s looks, punctuated by a round of sunny yellows for summer. You can catch it all on the videos.

Designers Takeo, left, and Eric Chandler, with one of the show’s models, former Miss Poland Universe Sylwia Kupiec.

Models Karlos Olsen, left, and Anthony Ing were hanging out back stage after the show.