By Nadine Kam
Nadine Kam photos
“Project Runway” designers were swarmed and graciously posed for pictures for fans following the Honolulu Community College fashion show, “Transitopia,” on April 23. From left, flashing the shaka sign, are Andy South, instructor Joy Nagaue, Casanova, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Michael Drummond, Christopher Collins, Mondo Guerra and instructor Karen Hastings.
Students at Honolulu Community College staged a show to remember with “Transitopia,” that took place April 23 under a tent at the school’s automotive department below Dillingham.
In spite of the distraction of having five “Project Runway” celebs—Casanova, Christopher Collins, Michael Drummond, Mondo Guerra and HCC alumnus Andy South—sharing the spotlight, with each showing two designs, the students more than held their own.
Afterward the PR designers said they were impressed by the students’ work and strong, cohesive collections. After all, that is the difficult aspect of becoming a designer—having a unique aesthetic and vision that comes through no matter what you’re creating. It’s what many of the PR designers struggled with themselves on the show, eliciting from the judges the comment, “I don’t know who you are as a designer.”
Mondo with HCC student designer Karen Gay.
The students easily showed the 500 who attended who they were, and you can watch videos of each showcase at the bottom of this post. While I was shooting, I thought something had gone wrong with my camera. The images were so jerky and glitchy looking. After a while I figured out that was the strobe effect of hundreds of camera flashes going off. I spoke to one photographer-about-town later, and he told me he had filled two cards with 1,200 images. How many did he have the energy to actually post? “About 40,” he said.
Unlike last year’s show, there was no competition for best designer, but among fashion watchers I spoke to after the show, the consensus for best show would have included Channelle Hillman’s “Satire,” Kiki Leung’s “Nomad” and Remi Mead’s “Ninja Bunny.”
I liked Channell’s show for the pure eye candy, and I loved the clever switchup of a reversible cape on stage, which changed up the styling of two outfits before our eyes. I loved the intellectual vigor Kiki brought to the details of her “Nomad” collection, and Remi’s adorable collection is one many younger women will want to see in their closets for the pure joy of it.
That said, I think all the designers did a fantastic job, and if I had spoken to 100 people, I would have found 100 opinions on their own favorite collections. More traditional femmes will find Karen Gay’s designs beautiful, as the name of her collection suggests. Randie Lunn drew the most cheers for her island-inspired “Ku’ualoha” collection. It was beautiful to see her models striding down the runway. Each looked so happy, and Randie’s fabric, from Manuheali’i, flowed beautifully.
There’s a niche for all, and the next step is simply a matter of successful branding and marketing, something that the PR designers also struggle with, as Mondo and Michael both expressed wariness about remaining true to their respective visions without pandering to the marketplace.
During the show, I was sitting next to the very chatty Michael Drummond, so you can hear on the videos his excitement and enthusiasm as he watched the show. At the finale, when some of the over-the-top designs of freshmen designers appeared, he was like, “How did I miss that?!”
Well, that was when they were all backstage getting ready for their own show. Missing in action late in the evening was Casanova. I was told that, true to his moniker, he’d left to go on a date!
Speaking of shoes, this is what Mondo was wearing. He and Casanova had great shoes on every time I saw them.
Mondo with 2010 HCC fashion graduate Lauren Lee, who’ll no doubt be showing some of her Lolita designs at this weekend’s Kawaii-Kon Lolita fashion show taking place 3:30 p.m. at Hawai’i Convention Center.
Andy South clowns around in a Transitopia wig after the show.
More photos and all the designer collections on video follow.