Heels & Picks: Fun at Hawai‘i Fashion Month

Oct. 8, 2013 | 0 Comments

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BY ERIN SMITH / Special to the Star-Advertiser

The first official Hawai’i Fashion Month has this fashionista thoroughly impressed. I attended a few events last week, and every time my reaction has been, “Damn. They have this DIALED.”

The author wearing a  Chapeaux Emi Maui hat. (Courtesy photo)

The author wearing a Chapeaux Emi Maui hat. (Courtesy Erin Smith)

Kudos to the Hawai’i Fashion Incubator (Hifi) and State of Hawai’i for putting together a stellar month of fashion. Runway shows on wonderfully designed runways, Hawai’i clothing, hat and accessory designer markets and speakers ranging from fashion blogger Wendy Nguyen of “Wendy’s Lookbook” to Michelle Moder, costume supervisor for “Hawai’i Five-0” and feature film “The Descendants” — the level of presentation was very high and everything looked modern, slick and completely professional.

“OUTFIT,” a project of Hifi, held an event on Wednesday, Oct. 2, on the ground floor of the TJ Maxx building at Ward Centers. I walked in and was taken immediately by the elegant runway design. Fierce yet calm, all white and very modern, I loved the runway and stage. As it turns out, it was designed by Unleash Studios’ Melissa Rivera, which was no surprise since I’ve always enjoyed her work.

After checking out the runway, I headed to the fashion market to take in the designs and meet some designers. The first one I met was Lauren Roth from Yellowbird Bohemia. I was liked her hand-painted trucker hats, adorned with images of creatures of the ocean in bright hues and could totally see me and my boyfriend rocking them for our Kailua lifestyle.

As it turns out, Roth also lives in Kailua and the inspiration it provides is clear in her work. She was involved in creating the 32-page program for Hawai’i Fashion Month, one of her biggest undertakings to date. I love her paintings and her whimsical, yet solidly designed hat style.

Some of the hats on display last week by Yellowbird Bohemia. (Courtesy Erin Smith)

Some of the hats on display last week by Yellowbird Bohemia. (Courtesy Erin Smith)

Moving on to another type of hat altogether, I fell in love with items by Maui-based Emi Azeka (Chapeaux Emi Maui), who had an exquisitely lit booth showcasing her designs. These are statement pieces, with tremendous detail and a deep richness to them. Some of her designs echo 1920’s pieces found in feature film “The Great Gatsby,” but her look is not limited to that era.

My favorite from her line was a hat style that folds up flat, then pops out to the perfect shape when you unfold it. This is ideal for travelers, as most hats get annihilated and lose their shape when you pack them. After promising I would model Azeka’s hats one day and promising to stay in touch with this charismatic milliner, I moved on to some jewelry.

Jewelry designer Sonya Monique. (Courtesy Erin Smith)

Jewelry designer Sonya Monique. (Courtesy Erin Smith)

I loved the necklace display in the booth of jewelry and accessories designer Sonya Monique. She had one-of-a-kind, hand-made, decadent tribal pieces laid out on a large, partially burned log. Out of the ashes comes new life is part of her mantra; Monique began making necklaces after a health scare led her to wearing large, statement necklaces to cover up part of her neck. Copper, leather, gemstones, all are integral parts of her designs. I really loved them and found myself trying on a lovely, large looped copper neckpiece while chatting with her. Her pieces were featured in the runway shows at “OUTFIT” and looked stunning on the models.

One of the last booths I had the pleasure of browsing at was that of Maui designer Stephanie Sachs. I loved seeing a few designers from my former, long-time home island representing! Upon introducing myself, she said, “Erin Smith? I’m sure you know, we have an Erin Smith on Maui too.” We had a good laugh when I explained that was in fact, me and that I had moved a year ago. I miss the good, fun, fine, supportive people of Maui.

Stephanie Sachs’ line of designer resort wear and scarves begins in the form of abstract painting. All of her fabrics are from paintings of her own design. Lovely, fluid, colorful fabrics that drape perfectly for those hot, breezy, tropical days and nights; that is her niche.

Several other fabulous designers participated last week, and I ran into friends like model Neka Stephens and the guys from The Pushoverse. After a fun afternoon of being inspired by Hawai’i’s fashion scene, I flipped down my aviators and headed out into the Honolulu sunset for a performance I was scheduled for.

Art inspires art, and I sang a little stronger and with a different flare that evening after an afternoon of Hawaii’s top fashion.
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Erin Smith is a singer and guitarist who performs as a solo artist and with Maui-based Na Hoku Hanohano Award-nominated band The Throwdowns. Born in Canada, she moved to Hawaii in 2004 and now resides in Kailua. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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