UH students stage “Paradox”

May 9th, 2011
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Nadine Kam photos

Joelle Perry, center, with her models, including her “Beleza” collection and designs from the “Androgyny,” or unisex, segment of the University of Hawaii student fashion show.

Adding an audio-visual element to its annual student fashion show, the University of Hawaii Apparel, Design and Merchandising students’ “Paradox,” was not without it’s share of glitches, but it was worth the few seconds of dead space to see the videos that preceded each senior collection.

Like the warmup act before a concert, or the amuse bouche before dinner, the videos set the pace and mood for each show, and were inspiring in their own right. The videos helped to add some clarity to collections that did not always appear coherent on stage. It’s a lot to ask because it can take a lifetime for a designer to edit and hone his or her vision and philosophy, yet, today’s market demands instant clarity.

It wasn’t too long ago that the shows simply comprised class projects, this year represented by segments themed “Androgyny” (unisex designs), “Re/Denim” (reconstructed denim), and “Nightmares” (monster-inspired designs). That’s because, in the olden days, it was assumed the graduates would go on to work behind the scenes for big companies. These days, the assumption is they will be name designers in their own right. That is not necessarily a reflection of readiness but necessity in a business that can’t afford to accommodate the young and untested, instead letting them fend for themselves in the world of Etsy and social media marketing.

A couple of the strongest collections belonged to Misha Pyle and Jaclyn Santos.

Misha Pyle’s “Alpine High Tea,” had the romantic, feminine and dreamy ambience of past lives. I loved the flow of her fabric, first made evident in the video that preceded her show, in which a woman loosens layers of a billowing robe and garments to reveal a simple, demure chemise.


Designer Misha Pyle, second from left, with a few of her models from left, the “Nightmares” monster-inspired segment of the fashion show, from Misha’s senior collection “Alpine High Tea,” and from the “Androgyny” segment.

Santos takes her inspiration from the streets and film photography. Her urban wear for the streetwise femme fatale included form-fitting black, sometimes accented with bars of white stripes, or blue floral print reminiscent of antique china. For drama queens, the shine of brocade and texture of a faux fur jacket would be bound to turn heads. And I love, love, love the spiky silver jewelry and accessories that adorned models’ hair and wrists.

There was a moment on stage when a model in spiked earphones attempted to hug Santos on stage, which caused her to back away. I know the feeling. I got a spike in the head once from hugging a friend with a lip piercing and a love of spiky hardware!

Joelle Perry’s “Beleza” and Inbar Maor’s “The Power of III” were very similar in addressing the spiritual nature or Earth Goddess within women. Both featured a mix of tribal inspirations and  feminine gowns.

There were elements to like in every showcase, but I noticed in some cases that poor fabric choice, which is at least a third of the battle, spoiled the illusion. To use the criticism often leveled by Nina Garcia on “Project Runway,” bad fabric doesn’t drape well and often looks cheap. There’s nothing wrong with cheap or cheap fabric used well—we’re all in the same paycheck conservation mode—but it shouldn’t look cheap.

Sometimes I’m afraid that young designers are limited by the things they see, and that includes looking at what their friends wear and shopping at the clothing equivalent of fast-food outlets. I think young designers should make frequent pilgrimages to the many luxury stores we have here, if just to see up close what good fabric and construction can add up to.

Lauren King and Maika Yamagishita model designs from Victoria Nyberg’s “Trouvaille” collection.

An afternoon, post-show reception allowed guests to inspect the designs up close.

Musicians performed while guests enjoyed food and drinks courtesy of I ♥ Country Cafe.

After both my still and video cameras ran out of battery power, I used my iPhone to get this photo of a model in the “Nightmares” segment of the fashion show. This colorful, undersea-inspired ensemble seemed to represent a happy nightmare.


Faculty advisor Dr. Andy Reilly, center, caught up with Lynne Hanzawa O’ Neill, left, and Dr. Bobbie Yee after the afternoon show.

Continue on for videos of the senior shows:

To accommodate guests, “Paradox,” which took place at East-West Center, was divided into noon “Blanc” and evening “Noir” segments.

I was interested in going to the evening event, but the day worked out for the better video-wise because I was told that several models, in high heels and tired from being there all day, fell down during the second run.

I’m starting to think the double show doesn’t work. When Level 4 was open, many designers tried the same format for a series of evening shows, but over the course of the evening, models would have to leave, and the later shows would degenerate into messy free-for-alls. Because this blog is all about the shared learning experience, I think it helps to know others’ experiences, good or bad, grow from it and move forward.


iPhone link for “Beleza” by Joelle Perry


iPhone link for “Samantha Ann” by Samantha Mallon


iPhone link for “The Power of III” by Inbar Maor


iPhone link for “Trouvaille” by Victoria Nyberg


iPhone link for “Dystopia Now” by Bryant Des-Brisay


iPhone link for “Alpine High Tea” by Misha Pyle


iPhone link for “Coal” by Jaclyn Santos

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One Response to “UH students stage “Paradox””

  1. Mike:

    Nice, one reminds me of my time in Dresden!


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