Thursday, June 3, 2004


Tina Bovino Agostini shows wearable art by her sister-in-law Lavinia Bovino, which can be seen at Flor de Cardo, celebrating its grand opening tomorrow.

The Living Canvas

Wearable art dreams achieve reality
at the Flor de Cardo boutique
on Nuuanu Avenue

A call to Flor de Cardo Galleria late Tuesday afternoon finds Tina Bovino Agostini (the model formerly known as Tina Kasuya) breathless.

"It's busy!" she says, while fretting that the boutique racks may clear out too quickly. Any retailer should be so lucky, but she and her husband, Victor Bovino Agostini, want to have something to show for their grand opening tomorrow, coinciding with the monthly First Friday Downtown Gallery Art Tour.

Yes, it's art they're selling, but of the wearable variety. Created by Victor's sister Lavinia Bovino, the garments, as colorful as any painting you'd find on a gallery wall, give the wearer the freedom to play artist, inviting them to mix and wrap pieces any way they please.

"They're very different, very avant-garde," said Tina, and for her, the collaboration with her new family couldn't have come at a better time.

"I was getting so bored with shopping malls, and going out and, you know, you spend so much money and you still see others wearing the same thing as you."

If Tina's face and figure look familiar, it's probably because she was a guest in many homes Sundays, arriving with the morning newspaper in full-page advertisements for Liberty House.

She's also appeared in just about every major fashion show that has come to town, including the lavish November French Festival shows, featuring the world's top couturiers. Even so, she said, "I wasn't seeing anything I hadn't seen before."

Meanwhile, Lavinia, working under the label Calma Alma (Quiet Soul), had been building up a successful business in her home country of Argentina over the last two years.

Just this February, the sisters-in-law were lunching at the restaurant 88 -- a fortuitous number in Chinese belief -- surrounded by the culture of Chinatown and the art of Nuuanu, and the idea of a collaboration was born.

Tina and Victor Bovino Agostini wear designs by Victor's sister Lavinia Bovino, featured at the newly open Flor de Cardo. The dress sells for $200; the pants are $150.

'Hair art' on display
at J Salon

While we're on the subject of the art of looking good, another of the First Friday participants is J Salon, at 1128 Nuuanu Ave., where owner/stylist Joe Randazzo and his team will demonstrate will the "Art of Hair" from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow.

The event will feature "hair art" demonstrations, bossa nova and "jazzanova" by deejays K-ing, Seeko and Chia of the Free Form Sound Collective, and cocktails.

Hair cutting stations are being moved to the storefront lounge area to showcase the "canvasses" as they undergo their transformation, including one model getting extensions, and at least one getting a cut involving pre-done color. In the second half of the art show, three guests will be selected at random for a complimentary cut.

"During the gallery walks we usually show artists' work, but this time we wanted to feature our work as art," said Randazzo. "It's what we do every day at the salon."

With a 10-year foundation as stylist, educator and art director with the prestigious Vidal Sassoon salon in New York and Chicago, Randazzo swears by his proprietary "J System" styling method.

"It's about making people look fabulous. We pay attention to a client's lifestyle, their fashion sense, their personality, to create a style that will project exactly the image they want," he says.

What prevents many from looking as fabulous as they can be is the inability to see themselves as others see them. Randazzo and his team offer another set of eyes honing in on one's best features.

As for what kind of art will be created tomorrow, Randazzo said the first pre-selected models will look edgy; what happens next will depend on who shows up.

For more information, call 550-4441.

TINA, an "idea person," credits Victor -- with his background in business and finance -- with making their storefront dream come true.

"With Victor, if I have an idea, he says 'Let's do it tomorrow.' So we were sitting in the restaurant in February; by April we were renovating."

He named the boutique after a wildflower identified with the gauchos of Argentina, reflecting his own heritage on the range. "It grows wild and strong," he said. "No matter what -- heat, water, drought cannot kill it."

The question is, is Honolulu ready for Calma Alma designs? Pieces are unstructured and carry a one-size-fits-all easygoing philosophy, with pieces that can be tied or wrapped two to three different ways. Many of the pieces don't look like much more than triangle swaths of fabric hanging on the racks, so each must be worn to appreciate the look that can by turns be elegant and sophisticated, sweet and innocent, or bohemian casual.

SO FAR, those stopping for a peek into Flor de Cardo have been creative types such as Tau Dance Theatre director Peter Rockford Espiritu and actor Jason Momoa, who stopped in for a taste of maté, an Argentine tea, but there's also been a Downtown business crowd, "and they're buying," Tina said. "They're seeing fun things and they like that it's different, one-of-a-kind and easy to wear."

Even though the pieces are unique, each one created by hand, they start at a reasonable $30 for tops, with an average of $80 for skirts and dresses, and going up to $300 for more elaborate pieces that might be worn at formal occasions.

The shop leaves Tina with time to continue modeling, but gives her an outlet for her creativity in creating jewelry, which she and Victor craft by hand for the shop under the name Dragonfly Pearl.

Those stopping in on First Friday will also see artwork by Argentine artists and decorative items crafted by hand from alpaca silver, a lightweight mixture of silver from Bolivia and northern Argentina.

The gallery is at 1160 Nuuanu Ave. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays. Call 523-1217.


Art displays flourish during
Downtown’s First Friday

First Friday keeps growing as Downtown galleries and studios open their doors for an evening celebrating artists, art and art making of all kinds.

Special events going on tomorrow, from 5 to 10 p.m., include the grand opening of the Flor de Cardo Galleria Boutique at 1160 Nuuanu Ave., and the Hawaii Craftsmen benefit ZÜGS Ultimate Garage Sale, featuring anything from fine art and jewelry to furniture. That sale takes place at the Austin Building, 1139 Nuuanu Ave. (formerly Havana Cabana). Admission to ZÜGS is a $5 donation, but most other events are free.

Those new to the event might start at The ARTS at Mark's Garage, where there will be a closing party in the Girl Fest Gallery of an art exhibition that focuses on women's issues and concerns.

At the Pegge Hopper Gallery at 1164 Nuuanu Ave., there will be a Turkish Bazaar through 8 p.m., featuring rare tribal and ethnic treasures imported from Turkey. Among the items to be featured are cashmere shawls, ethnic Turkoman and Afghan necklaces and silver chandelier earrings of amethyst, lapis, peridot and garnet, plus bedspreads, wool carpets, kilims and decorative glass lanterns.

All venues will offer free gallery maps.

Look for new orange banners indicating participation in the event.

Parking is available at the new city garage on Beretania between Nuuanu and Smith streets, at The Arts at Marks Garage, or on street ... if you're lucky.

For more information about First Friday, call 521-2903.

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