What the Heck?
COURTESY OF 2COUTURE
86-year-old fashion designer Alice Ihori struts her stuff with the other models down Nuuanu Avenue.
Age no barrier at Chinatown fashion show
If you ever wanted to see models sweat, last weekend was the time. Honolulu's Fashion Week culminated in 80 models parading along a two-block red carpet, down the middle of Nuuanu Avenue, under a blazing sun.
I sheltered myself under an awning at the corner of Hotel Street and tried to comprehend the vagaries of fashion. There were some more-or-less normal-looking clothes, but a Chinatown retail store called Bad Sushi coupled their fashions with pregnant belly dancers, Buddha heads, martial artists, Tibetan instruments, fire dancers on platforms and Free Tibet signs.
My favorite was the model wearing a baseball cap, a bikini with a faux foxtail, and body-painted skulls up and down her torso -- a look you just don't see often enough these days.
COURTESY OF 2COUTURE
A model shows off the latest in baseball caps, foxtail bikinis and body paint on Nuuanu Avenue during last weekend's culmination of Honolulu's Fashion Week.
The youngest local designer in the show was 9-year-old Tiger Tam, in a pink and blue chiffon number she designed for kung fu class. The oldest was Alice Ihori, who, the emcee announced, was 88.
"I don't care what he said, I am not 88," groused Ihori, who modeled a jacket made out of a pink blanket given to her by her hematologist and a pair of denim Bermudas she created herself. "I only like my own pants, others don't fit right through the crotch."
Ms. Ihori, for the record, is only 86, about to turn 87. How will she celebrate her birthday? "I'm going to a cocktail party," she said.
Ulupalakuu is Wine Country
Did you know that Tedeschi Vineyards on Maui is the second-most-visited winery in America, with 250,000 guests a year? I chanced upon that bit of information browsing a new photo book called "Wine Across America."
If you're thinking the most visited winery is somewhere in Napa, no. It's in Asheville, N.C. The Biltmore Winery draws 600,000 visitors a year, but, then again, it's on the grounds of the largest private residence ever built in America, the 1890s summer home of railroad baron George Vanderbilt, 250 rooms, now open to the public.
"Unveiling" the Lagoon
Got invited to the "unveiling" of the new Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon last week. Wondered about how you "veil" a 3-acre lagoon in the first place.
Answer: You don't. After many speeches, the lagoon was opened by cutting a 6-foot maile lei draped between two brass stanchions. Despite the fuss, it's not really open after all. Give it a month or so before the new landscaping, including 60 more coconut palms, can take root.
PHOTO COURTESY OF HILTON HAWAIIAN VILLAGE
The newly renovated Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon.
All told, the new lagoon's something of a marvel, one of the world's largest saltwater swimming pools. (The largest, however, in Chile, is six times bigger.)
The lagoon was built by Henry J. Kaiser in 1956, fed by water from the harbor. Whether it was swimmable or not during the past couple of decades depended on your tolerance for mucky water, jellyfish and a bottom covered with rotting sludge.
"It looked like a muddy mess when we drained it," says project manager Paul McElroy. Filled in with rocks and sand and lined with a "geotextile" bottom, the new lagoon's only 6 feet deep. It's fed by seven new saltwater wells, and the water's recycled five times a day.
Moreover, it's surrounded by 35,000 tons of sand trucked in from Waianae. The Hilton says it cost $15 million, though some insiders at the party insisted the cost was nearer $20 million -- a hefty price tag for an amenity that will bring in no revenue, and is open to the public to boot.
Actually, it's even more of a public service, since the new lagoon empties into the Ala Wai, helping flush out that particular noxious nuisance.
Last weekend's Little Kitchens food event featured compost-able and biodegradable dishes, cups and utensils. As well it should, since the sip-and-dine gala at the State Art Museum -- which featured small restaurants like Mi Casa, India Café and Olive Tree -- was a benefit for Slow Food Oahu.
Emcee Bart DaSilva of Oldies 107.9 got in the spirit of the event by telling this joke from the podium: "Why did the organic tomato stop dating the Big Mac? He was too fast for her."
"Bad jokes are me," DaSilva said happily afterward. "I have an inexhaustible -- no, wait a minute, make that, a sustainable supply."
Sorry, I've Got Choir Practice
The entertainment highlight of Little Kitchens was not DaSilva's jokes. Little Kitchens was staged by the Honolulu Weekly, and late in the evening, Weekly account executive Colleen Knudsen stepped to the mic and delivered a thoroughly professional rendition of Gershwin's "Summer Time," with NewJass Quartet.
"All my staff's musical except for me," said Weekly publisher Laurie Carlson. "One of them had to miss the event because of choir practice."
The Mayor's "Who Me?" Moment
Last Tuesday, KBFD's Jeff Chung and the Hawaii International Film Festival's Liwei Kimura were at the airport to meet Korean movie star Lee Jun-ki. With them were Lee's manager, two large local bodyguards and 100 ladies from Lee's local fan club, bearing lei, cookies and other goodies.
But who should exit the door first than Mayor Mufi Hannemann, back from a weeklong junket through China and Korea. The fan club ladies, though not there to see the mayor, were kind enough to give him a cheer. The mayor had a "For Me?" moment. "He looked deeply touched," says Kimura.
Lee Jun-ki's manager had a "Who's this tall guy?" moment. But Chung explained all to everyone. And Lee Jun-ki, on his first trip to the United States to pick up a Rising Star award from HIFF, was welcomed by enthusiastic screams.