By Nadine Kam
Nadine Kam photos
Models Remi Mead, left, and Angelique Hansen wear designs by HCC student Reise Kochi, who won the school’s Designer of the Year award for his senior collection, shown April 24 on the school’s campus.
This year’s annual Honolulu community college fashion show, “Flight,” turned out to be a homecoming for Jay Nicolas Sario, who attended the school from 2003 to 2004.
That meant staffers involved had to strike a delicate balance between giving graduating seniors their time in the spotlight, while recognizing Sario’s “Project Runway” celebrity. As it turns out, guests were respectful, waiting until the end of the shows to mob the designer who was one of six judges for the evening, one of three in the design category that I was also judging. He came in low-key and humble, admitting before the show that he was nervous about judging.
I didn’t feel nervous until I looked at the judges sheet. We could assign as many as 20 points in five categories of:
>> Fabric selection/color/texture
>> Commercial aspect/marketability
>> Total impression
I think the category that was most difficult to judge was the commercial aspect. The designers are all so different, each having found a clearly defined niche. That meant judging cosplay costumes against wrestling gear and contemporary men’s and women’s streetwear. It wasn’t easy.
For the students, that’s a good thing, because I can see them thinking in terms of underserved markets and building brands to address oversights. All are aware of the need to stand out against the thousands of wannabe designers that emerge nationwide every year. This is a leap forward from past student shows, where there was a trendy sameness to 90 percent of the collections. Students were more likely to disappear into manufacturing companies than launch a line.
But, with the rise of the social media and peer-to-peer marketing, today’s students are also aware of their ability to develop a brand and inexpensively market it by courting a mix of like-minded friends and followers.
The overall ambience was of warmth and ohana, with several departments at HCC stepping up to contribute to the show, from cosmetology students who worked on hair and makeup, to carpentry and printshop departments, called upon for building the stage and printing the show’s program.
In the end, Reise Kochi was declared the design winner for his fierce dresses accentuating the houglass figure and strong shoulders. Designer Jarene Barrett received the production award, which she shared with fellow designer Sina Thomsen, who helped produce her show. (Each designer had been paired with a show producer.) Sina received her award at a mahalo dinnera for students, instructors and all who contributed to the event’s success.
There was also a moment of levity in the presentation of Reise’s award, when he reached out to take the microphone from Jay, who abruptly pulled it away in mock rivalry before surrendering it to, quite possibly, his successor.
I look forward to seeing more from the class of 2010. Here’s my advance story with brief descriptions of their work.
Midweek style editor Yu Shing Ting adjusts lei on designer Reise Kochi before he is photographed.
Production winner Jarene Barrett, who showed wrestling wear, is congratulated by Aztec Dragon, and behind her, Rocker Don Lee.
Lauren Lee showed a collection of sweet Lolita dresses and coats as part of her cosplay collection, “Primrose.”
Curtis Ho, right, with one of the models for his crisp, contemporary “Mega-Handsome Jet-Set Vacation” collection.
Audrey Fu shows the admission ticket to the “Flight” fashion show.
Students’ fashion illustrations graced the tents where desserts awaited after the show, courtesy of Kelvin Ro’s Diamond Head Market and Grille.
Here are more student videos, in alphabetical order: