TO SOME, fashion may seem to be a frivolous pursuit, but to others it is a dynamic and international language with the ability to influence and empower.
"Fashion makes a woman feel beautiful. It makes you feel a certain way about yourself that shows through confidence," said La Pistil designer Ashley Ishii. "Women still need to hear that more. They need to respect themselves."
FASHION & JEWELRY SHOW
» Open house: 2:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday
» Place: Ko'olani, 1189 Waimanu St., third-floor conference room
» Admission: Free
» Note: RSVP for private showing from 1 to 2 p.m. by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
» La Pistil designs can also be found at Queen's Candy Shop, 831 Queen St.
A little unusual for someone born into a post-feminist world full of 20-somethings who believe women's liberation means freedom to be "girls gone wild," Ishii is a strong women's rights advocate who decries the international abuse of women, and was planning to major in women's studies before being bitten by the fashion bug.
That she would enjoy sewing for others came as something of a surprise. She started going to sewing classes as a teenager, but found little benefit in spending the time and energy to make something similar to what could be found on store racks. It was particularly discouraging when her first project, a drawstring bag, "was the hardest thing I ever made. It took me the longest time to finish."
Her interest was rekindled when she saw the work her friend Emma Wright was doing for Mechakawa Vintage. Ishii, too, started out revamping vintage clothing, before branching out into original designs.
She'll be transferring from Leeward Community College to study fashion at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the fall, which may curtail promotion of the line she started six months ago; so fans of the designer may want to stock up on her dresses while they can.
Ishii will be showing her dresses, inspired by colorful African fabrics and costumes, during an informal clothing and jewelry event Saturday at Ko'olani. She'll be offering about 30 handmade creations for sale, ranging from $30 to $55.
If comfort level can be considered empowering, Ishii's designs offer women liberation from the clingy, form-fitting styles that mainly turn them into eye candy for men.
La Pistil dresses are gathered under the bustline or are cut into trapeze shapes that float around the body.
"I don't like clothes that are clingy or tight, so I always make sure my clothing has room to move around," Ishii said. "If it's too snug, you can't eat."
And, like any feminist, Ishii's not giving up food to conform to some societal ideal.