Nadine Kam photos
Designs from Chanel’s fall footwear collection were showcased in celebration of the brand’s biggest Hawaii fan. A peek into her closet proves the point.
It was all about Chanel footwear yesterday, Nov. 17, when Tiana Torii opened her home to Chanel and about a dozen fellow afficionados for a private showcase of fall designs not carried by the boutiques here.
Joseph Cruz, national sales director for shoes, retail division, was in town from New York to help fit and match guests with shoes that best suit their personalities.
I gravitated to the pearl boot below, and Princess Dialta Alliata de Montereale humorously advised, “Never ask the price. In cases like this, you just close your eyes and give them your credit card.”
I don’t know if it’s more a function of being a journo or economically challenged, but I always have to know every detail, and the main detail is that the boot is $1,525. Sigh. It was hard to take them off. Can you imagine these with the right outfit?!
Chanel’s Joseph Cruz with a Shanghai-inspired boot with lantern embossing and a silver lantern on the heel.
Tiana, second from left, with her friends Kim Yoshino, Kristi Komeya and Tessie Schmisseur.
Oh, but heart be still! The real piece de resistance was a trek through Tiana’s dream closet, with Chanel’s pretty tweed suits, shoes and handbags lined up in a row. It was amazing to behold, but the impact of it all really didn’t hit me until later, when I woke up in the middle of the night, started thinking about it and couldn’t go back to sleep.
My first thought was of a black tank top introduced a couple years back, embellished with five pieces of applique, that I know she owns and wished I could see again.
Then I thought of how there are so many words associated with the brand, like “iconic, classic, timeless,” that I can spew them out without much thought. They are a shorthand for getting an idea across. But as I looked at the pieces in Tiana’s closet, I realized how any of those pieces, no matter which season or which year, could be worn with any of the other pieces, and look just as current now as a decade ago, and always be recognized as Chanel. It’s the reason she said she has trouble parting with any of her Chanel pieces. They can be worn forever. She also has an eye for the most iconic pieces of any collection, making them instantly collectible.
That shows how strong the brand, its vision and aesthetics are, and it’s quite a feat. I can’t think of many other brands that can sustain that instant recognition over decades. Certainly in terms of accessories, there is Hermes, Dior and Louis Vuitton, but in clothing?
My introduction to couture was through Chanel, one of the first luxury brands to have arrived in Hawaii in the 1980s. I wish I had the kind of personal technology available today to capture the fantastic runway shows produced at that time, along with the initial French Festival shows that brought the haute couture to Hawaii. They are now relegated strictly to memory, but the Chanel, Dior and Sonia Rykiel shows were fantastic.
Far from being stuffy, the same ethos that led Chanel to buy and preserve the work of such Maisons d’Art as Lemarié (feathers), Lesage (embroidery) Desrues (metalwork), Goossens (goldsmith) and Guillet (flowers), made them eager to share the handwork of its haute couture garments, and demonstrate to those who cannot fathom the expense of such garments, what separates their work from what we usually wear. They represent the highest achievement in fashion, as well as a connection to the past.
Tiana shows one of her favorites from the fall collection, a bootie dressed with a row of camellias, with, clockwise from left, Chanel’s Tia Gaurani, Joseph Cruz, Tiana’s husband Nobuhide Torii and Chanel’s Joshua Evans. Below, Catherine Lin shows what it looks like when worn.
Tiana and Chanel also played host to, left, Wanloe Shock, and center, Erika Kauffman.
A glimpse of the dream closet, with some of Tiana’s Chanel purses.
Then there’s her shoe collection.