Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Keeping up with Diane von Furstenberg

November 24th, 2011

Nadine Kam photos
Diane von Furstenberg, second from right, in a Hatsu steel-and-neon-colored dress from her Resort 2012 collection, found plenty of fans awaiting at her DVF boutique at Ala Moana Center. The fashion icon was in town for a grand opening celebration that took place Nov. 22. Also pictured, from right, are Eleanor Kawananakoa, Brynn Foster, Candes Gentry, Kristen Chan and Anne Marie Jones.

Diane Von Furstenberg may have lost the right to the title of princess after divorcing her German-Italian Prince Egon Von Furstenberg decades ago, but she’s still fashion royalty and was greeted as such at a grand opening celebration at her newest DVF boutique, in the Ala Moana Center, Nov. 22.

There were 500 RSVPs for an audience with the designer who made history in the early 1970s, when she designed a little jersey wrap dress that sold in the millions and landed her on the cover of Newsweek magazine in 1976.

It was more than a dress. As noted in my story in the newspaper today, it was a symbol of women’s empowerment and women’s new presence in the workforce in the era of NOW and feminism. B.D. (before Diane), women were being told that to succeed in the workforce they had to become more like men, and dressing for success meant donning thugly pantsuits and blazers paired with little bowtie blouses, to look more like a man.

Then came Diane with her message and shining example of a woman who was succeeding in business while still retaining her femininity. It was an eye-opener at the time, and today, just look at how many soul sisters she has in Hawaii alone, who have started their own successful businesses or are managing business for others.

in my Monday interview with the designer, she said she always enjoyed being a woman and she has a feline quality about her, although she’s more lioness than kitten. At 64, she has the kind of strength and energy that others must keep up with. In fact, as soon as I arrived at the party Tuesday night, a photographer pulled me aside and said, of photographing Diane, “You better move fast because she doesn’t stand still for more than a minute.”

“Hawaii Five-O’s” Grace Park had a long chat with the designer.

Grace with DVF Honolulu boutique manager Marilee Mattson. Coincidentally, Marilee also worked for another enduring fashion icon, Betsey Johnson, and was responsible for bringing Betsey to town twice. Hopefully, we’ll see Diane here many times as well.

Diane von Furstenberg’s VP of Global Communications Grace Cha, second from right, also welcomed Fendi’s Cammy Maheras, “Hawaii Five-0′s” Brian Yang, and film producer Chris Lee.

In light of her energy, which one other person in the store had characterized as abrupt, I found her to be very gracious and un-divalike, especially in having given me a second chance at an interview. I had been trying to get an advance phone interview with her but because she was on an international tour scheduling was difficult. A live date was set, which was later rescheduled. I thought only the time had changed, but the day had changed as well. So, at my desk Monday, I got that dreaded call saying, “Diane’s here, are you still coming?”

It worked out better than planned. Instead of meeting at the store as scheduled, we ended up meeting a half hour later in her suite at the Halekulani, with its picture window view of Diamond Head, where she could relax and curl up on the couch and I had more time than I probably would have had earlier.

I’d had a brush with the designer during New York Fashion Week in September 2008, when she hosted a party at the Cuban restaurant Socialista to celebrate the launch of Nina Garcia’s “Little Black Book of Style.” Out of all the famous, glamorous personages in the room that night, Diane outshone them all so that when she arrived, you could feel the energy in the packed room change, like Moses parting the sea as people gave her room to move, while still pressing in to gawk.

LeSportsac’s Cindy Eastman, left, showed up in one of the iconic wrap dresses from DVF’s Vintage Collection, made with a reissued 1970s print, while Condesa-Azira Nora Meijide-Gentry showed up in one of DVF’s Fall 2012 creations.

Diane gamely posed for photos with all who wanted their brush with fame documented.

It is no small feat to remain relevant in the fashion business nearly 40 years, when attention spans are short, customers are fickle, and a single bad season can make or break you. What was funny was that during our interview, she turned some of those kinds of questions back on me, asking, “What do you think?” when I asked about what women wanted from their clothing then vs. now, and how she attributes her enduring success.

That makes sense. She’s a person who is interested in ideas and didn’t seem particularly interested in looking back and speculating about her success. She’s realistic enough to assume a degree of luck and serendipitous timing. She puts on no airs and has no illusions about herself, saying at one point, “Of course, I can’t wear my own dresses these days.”

I was like, “That’s crazy, of course you can!”

And she goes, “It’s OK.”

She’s also a forward-looking, big-picture person who has long set her sights on Asia and China, and mentioned that, as a gateway to Asia, she’s wanted to be in Hawaii for “quite a while.”

As president of the Council of fashion designers of America, she’s well aware of New York’s position on the global circuit and trying to get its members to consider their response to the growing number of Fashion Week destinations in Asia that will one day vie for major editors’ and buyers’ attention.

With so much on her mind, it’s no wonder she can’t keep still.

After the party she headed to the airport for a flight to Kauai, where she’s spending a quiet Thanksgiving with family, and finally taking time to sleep between swims and hikes.

Moreso than at most events of this kind, the registers were ringing all night. No doubt having DVF in the house helped as she signed many a book and item sold that night, as this book below.

Fun with fur: Stylist Geremy Campos, with Josh Dulatre, shows the movement in one of DVF’s furs.

Marilee and staffers Malina Yanai, left, and Lena Baptiste, right, wear the New Jeanne wrap dress from DVF’s Resort 2012 Vintage Collection. They’re with Lindsay Carmer, director of U.S. Retail for DVF. (more…)

Yarn ‘tasting’ at the library

June 29th, 2009

mk carroll

Nadine Kam photos
MK Carroll shows the many knit and crochet possibilities available through patterns in books in the Hawaii State Library system.

The culinary world is known for its wine, cheese, chocolate and cigar tastings, or tastings of whatever ingredient happens to capture the imagination.

The Hawaii Public Library’s main branch hosted a tasting of its own on Saturday, to introduce yarn afficionados to its vast collection of knit and crochet books, as well as its large craft-book section. When deciding whether to borrow or buy one’s craft books, librarians shared the wisdom of adding stitch glossary books and classic patterns to one’s collection, while borrowing some of the trendier titles with designs likely to go out of style in a few years.

Designer MK Carroll was there to introduce her favorite books, past and present, and guests were able to share information as well, such as the pitfalls of trying to recycle yarn from thrift-shop sweaters. Depending on the garment’s construction, you could a continuous strand of yarn, or hundreds of barely usable 2-foot long pieces. The audience oohed when told of recyclers who, knowing what to look for, have unwound skeins of cashmere for a mere dollar.

In addition to sharing such book titles as “Stitch’n Bitch Nation” (I borrowed this one) and “Get Hooked: Simple Steps to Crochet Cool Stuff,” staffers shared Web sites such as, a social community for knitters and crocheters, and You can also check out for the designer’s latest goings-on and Etsy sales.


Shown clockwise are some of the yarns in my “tasting.” From left is a Maui Yarns sample of its hand-dyed 100 percent Merino wool yarn; a blend of wool, soy silk, cotton and chitin made from crab and shrimp shells; a Mini Mochi ball of 80 percent Merino wool and 20 percent nylon; and Araucania 100 percent sugar-cane fiber yarn.

Of course the highlight was looking at some of the newest yarns on the market, and taking them home to see how they knit up. It’s great that crafters always see the beauty in raw materials and have the creativity and imagination to see alternative possibilities. They’ve always been green minded, so yarns incorporate chitin and unusual plant fibers that might otherwise go to waste.

When it came time to actually borrow the books, I didn’t have my library card. I don’t know why librarians always make a person feel 10 years old. It’s been a long time since I borrowed any books, and cards expire in five years so I was hoping my card had expired, but it was still good so a friend borrowed two books for me rather than pay for a replacement card. The last time I borrowed a book was when I was living in Kailua and the parking situation made it easy to go to the library. (Market forces prevail even in the free public sector.) Now I just stop off at libraries mainly to drop off (recycle) magazines. I leave some and pick some up, although the titles are limited. People tend to pick up the fashion and women’s magazines first and leave the news and finance ones, though once I hit the Mother Lode and scored a bunch of Japan fashion magazines.

At the end of the session, all were invited to join the Aloha Knitters group (crocheters and spinners are also welcome). The group meets at Mocha Java Cafe in the Ward Warehouse from 7 to 9 p.m. each Thursday. There are no dues, and it’s OK to be a newbie. As Carroll said, they just want to be able to talk to people who understand them and who don’t think it’s weird to want to spin one’s dog or rabbit hairs into yarn.


One of the knitters in the group shared one of her recent projects.