Joyful Hearts abound

September 3rd, 2010

Nadine Kam photos
Me&Ro designer and CEO Robin Renzi, left, helps Mariska Hargitay with her jewelry before a dinner at Neiman Marcus’s Mariposa restaurant Sept. 1.

Mariska Hargitay’s visit for three events at Neiman Marcus Sept. 1, coincided with an appearance by jewelry designer and Me&Ro CEO Robin Renzi. The two bonded over a commitment to help survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, and toward that end, a portion of sales of Me&Ro’s Joyful Heart collection benefits Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation.

The actress who plays detective Olivia Benson on NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” has been trained as a crisis counselor, and she said the role has become so real to her, that if she sees trouble in the street, she’ll start to step in and try to create order, then has to remind herself she’s not a real law enforcer. Even so, her strength of character and compassion—the same things she brings to her role—seem to convince people she’s a real detective.

Renzi said, “I travel all over the world, and whereever I go, people love her character. They love her!”

I love Renzi as well. This was the third time I’ve talked to her. She’s so sweet and really has that childlike spirit that allows her to see wonder in the smallest pleasures, like walking on the beach and finding an unusual shell or bones of a seahorse.

She said both she and Hargitay are criers, and sure enough, when we started talking about survivors of abuse, she started crying and I started tearing up so I changed the subject back to her new collection of jewelry.

It was a real pleasure to meet and talk to Hargitay as well. She gamely posed for formal photos and autographed those photos, and of course everyone wanted time with her, so interviews were limited to 15 minutes. I tried to cram as much in that time as possible, because typically with celebs, when your time is up, it’s up. But even with people around warning to wrap it up, she’s the one who made the call to finish answering any and all questions I had, no matter how long it took, and offered to make herself available that evening if I needed anything else. That’s how much her foundation work means to her. She’s truly a remarkable person.

Earlier in the day, Hargitay was there to greet jewelry buyers during a trunk show of Me&Ro jewelry. Among the company’s collections is a Joyful Heart Collection, a percentage of proceeds of which benefit Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation, which offers healing modalities for those who have endured sexual or physical abuse.

One of the key pieces of the Joyful Heart Collection is “Fearlessness” jewelry. Hargitay started wearing it for her role as New York City detective Olivia Benson on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” and she said it’s helped define the character.

For more photos and information about the foundation’s work, visit TGIF Online. For more background, you can also check out my story in the Sept. 5 print edition.

Otherwise, Renzi had many other pieces to show. She loves working with her hands and most recently has been working like an old sailor, creating a line of scrimshaw jewelry from old mastodon ivory that’s being revealed as the planet warms and the icecaps melt. She said most people fear skulls, so she decided to make happy ones, and I adored this skull ring, as well as her many necklaces, bearing nautical and tattoo themes, like the heart on fire. So fun!

Happy skulls and more scrimshaw jewelry from Me&Ro. I told her I used to work at the scrimshaw store Royal Peddler, in Waikiki, and typical pieces had ship, ocean or animal imagery. The pieces were so abundant, I didn’t bother to pick up any at that time. The only engraved ivory I have is supposedly Japanese made, dating to the mid-20th century or earlier, in the shape of geta, engraved with imagery of flowers and birds.

She’s known for jewelry reflecting natural elements, with a casual, breezy style with spiritual significance. For that reason, Renzi’s jewelry was selected to be worn by the cast of “Eat Pray Love,” though her pieces have also appeared on countless TV shows and film, including the extremely luxe “Devil Wears Prada.”

“Hawaii gets it,” Renzi said. “People here have an appreciation for things that are more natural, earthy. They want things to be meaningful. It’s so inherent in the culture here. You can say it’s spiritual; it’s personal jewelry that’s understated, not flashy. Some people like that it looks a lot less expensive than it is. It’s like a secret no one else needs to know.”

Tiana and Nobuhide Torii with Maile Zambuto, center, executive director of the Joyful Heart Foundation, who, at a dinner at Mariposa Sept. 1, shared her story as a survivor of sexual assault that started when she was a 5 year old at a small local private school. In speaking about her story, she’s hoping others step forward to shed light on the pervasiveness of abuse, which Hargitay learned affects one in four women, and one in six men.

Hargitay samples foods that sustain life from ho’okupu presented to her Wednesday night by members of her Hawaii Advisory Committee. Among the many items were alae, taro and ulu.

David and Tamae Erdman of PacRim Marketing Group posed for photos  with Hargitay before dinner at Mariposa Sept. 1..

Model Kate Schuette shows pieces from Me&Ro.

Among Me&Ro’s diamond pieces was this heart necklace.

Heart-shaped cookies from Hokulani Bake Shop.

The always stylish Douglas Jago, visual presentation manager for Neiman Marcus, with Sydney Fasi, left, and Richanne Lam.

From left are Mimi MacNaughton, Ingrid Rolles and Brigitte Egbert, a longtime friend of Joyful Heart Foundation executive director Maile Zambuto, who is from Hawaii and endured sexual assault as a 5 year old in a small local private school.

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2 Responses to “Joyful Hearts abound”

  1. Lenard:

    Sweet post.

  2. Fashion Tribe | Dressing for Oscar Night 2012 at Halekulani | Fashion Tribe | | Honolulu, Hawaii:

    [...] favorite gown of the evening was worn by Kristen Chan, who said that during Mariska Hargitay's Joyful Heart appearance here in fall 2010, the actress invited her to the 2011 SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Awards, [...]

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