COURTESY SIG ZANE DESIGNS
Sig Zane and his son Kuha'o have had a busy year, including Sig Zane Designs' partnership with Kicks Hawaii and Converse All Stars, and designing a surfboard for Duke's OceanFest and uniforms for Outrigger Hotels & Resorts.
Zane brings Big Isle style
Hawaii designer Sig Zane will team up with Tiffany & Co. in a "no runway" fashion show Saturday on the Big Island to celebrate the Moku O Keawe Festival 2007 season, highlighted by an international hula festival in November.
Moku O Keawe
Time: 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday
Place: Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa Naupaka Room
Call: (808) 936-4853
In its second year, the festival brings to the South Kohala coast an array of workshops on implement-making and hula, and a competition featuring hula halau from Japan and Hawaii.
Saturday's event offers a peek into the Moku O Keawe Foundation's developing cultural program. The nonprofit foundation, dedicated to the perpetuation of hula and related arts, will present hula and music performances, an art display and sale, and a fashion show unveiling Sig Zane Design's 2008 Wailani Collection.
Designs are named for Hawaii's "beautiful rains," said Zane. During the show, each model will be on display for 15 minutes, like a piece of artwork that audience members will be able to circle, scrutinizing dress and jewels from head to toe.
The highlight will be the unveiling of the Moku O Keawe Foundation trophy and limited-edition sterling silver lehua pendant, designed in a partnership between Tiffany and Zane. The pendant will be available only through the foundation with a donation.
THE PARTNERSHIP with Tiffany marks a marriage between contemporary style and the cultural values that Zane has become known for since his discovery of the hula about 30 years ago, when he saw his first Merrie Monarch Festival. He decided then and there to study the dance, joining Halau O Kekuhi, where he met and married Nalani Kanaka'ole, daughter the famed kumu hula Edith Kanaka'ole.
He was urged by his mother-in-law to "share what you know. Teach the language, teach the culture. Give it away as much as you can because that's how it's going to continue."
He incorporated symbolic elements of the culture through his silk-screened garments. To this day he continues to create his screens the old-fashioned way, eschewing computer graphics in favor of cutting out the designs from a masking film, called Amberlith, by hand.
It's a craft he taught his son, Kuha'o, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. "He wouldn't let me do it any other way," Kuha'o said. "There's an edge to hand-cutting it."
Kuha'o has injected a youthful spirit to the family business, while running his own shop, the Cutlery, bringing contemporary streetwear to a former cutlery shop in Downtown Hilo.
Kuha'o was instrumental in Sig Zane Designs teaming up with Kicks Hawaii and Converse All Stars earlier this year to create a limited-edition shoe. The shoe features Sig Zane's hand-printed "Uluwehi Keaukaha" design, reflecting the leaves and fruit of an ulu tree in Zane's back yard.
The tree was a gift to Kuha'o on his first birthday and home to his umbilical cord, so he said he felt guilty if it wasn't tended. Kuha'o remembers his father's orders to rake ulu leaves when he had nothing to do. "There were always a lot of leaves on the ground."
In the Hawaiian way of thinking, beyond the simple matter of cleaning the yard, Zane's logic was that this simple task allowed his son to become grounded with nature and his culture.
"The ulu leaf is symbolic, so every time you rake it, you learn more," Zane said.