Green was the color to wear at year’s end.
» The way we wore: Hawaii’s year in fashion
As we look back at the year in fashion, 2007 seems to be when the dress made its comeback, ending the tyranny of jeans and the seemingly endless quest for the perfect, rear-enhancing fit. Sayonara! Hallelujah! Long live the dress!
The only problem was, in the confusion of the transition, and perhaps to ease jeans lovers into girlie world, youth-oriented designers compromised by coming up with the minidress almost too short to wear without leggings or jeans, causing wearers to wonder whether they had a dress or blouse on their hands. It’s nice to have options for versatility, but one couldn’t help thinking the too-short dress/too-long top just felt wrong. Designers, commit already!
The year brought empire waist tops and dresses with the option to wear with skinny jean or legging toppers.
You were “in” if you wore empire-waist dresses or tops, or metallics with wedge heels, and carried a clutch. The year began with your choice of the narrow pencil or balloon skirt, which a third of the way through the year had blossomed into a full-body cocoon, before taking on the harder line of the body-skimming trapeze heading into 2008. The true blessing came with the feminine and forgiving kimono dress, with sleeves suitable for the older set.
By year’s end it seemed everyone was sporting green Warrior T-shirts in support of the University of Hawaii’s winning football team.
The rise of the online social network makes it possible for anyone to set up Web shops easily on the cheap, reaching a built-in fan base that could be redirected to personal shops on eBay, the rising force Etsy.com or elsewhere in the ether. The infrastructure allowed entrepreneurial D.I.Y., or do-it-yourself, spirit to flourish, so 2007 also saw the minting of several young Hawaii designers, including Ashley Ishii (La Pistil), Lee-Ann Kong and Olga Kozlova (Kisa Kosmos), Shanelle Dragomanovich (Manovich), Aly Ishikuni and Emma Wright (Mechakawa Vintage), Marylea Conrad (Melia Conrad), Leah Evans and Deena Chang (Sugar Gems).
Several young designers like Shanelle Dragomanovich made their debuts.
As if to accommodate these designers, boutiques like Soleil and Queen’s Candy Shop appeared to address independent-minded dressers rebelling against 7th Avenue dictates and the $400 mass-produced dress versus the $40-to-$120 original. On Hawaii streets, fashion-oriented magazines proliferated to give voice to this new legion.
Men weren’t immune to fashion’s dominance as Queen’s Candy Shop, Blue Buddha, Energie and Valerie Joseph catered to their need for cool threads. Now that everyone carries a phone cam -- at the least -- every night out is a photo op, so one has to be blog-picture-perfect any time, anywhere.
Men grew ever more fashion conscious, even donning John Hardy jewelry.
Besides, with the women’s market saturated, designers are expanding into the realm of men, children and dogs. Loree Rodkin and Chrome Hearts came to town with rock ’n’ roll-inspired, Gothic jewelry mysterious enough for women and macho enough for guys.
Unfortunately for the consumer, clothing and jewelry prices soared in 2007 to reflect global economics, the cost of materials and the sinking value of the U.S. dollar, yet shoppers continued to pay the price, courtesy of cheap equity loans.
The retail environment will likely get tougher in 2008 when the full-scale Nordstrom arrives and fallout from the real estate market’s woes are felt more broadly. This will create an environment where consumers pull back and only the strongest competitors with the clearest vision will survive.
As if designers and retailers sensed this turn, a peek at what’s in store for 2008 seems to require that you toss out all your by-now-dowdy 2007 acquisitions to make way for exciting new shapes and colors.
Don’t hyperventilate just yet. Enjoy your old clothes until March.
The way we wore
Here's a month-to-month recap of the fashion stories of 2007
Tokidoki creator Simone Legno came to town for the first time in January to sign his "Pirata," or Pirate, summer collection for LeSportsac, as well as his cosmetic collection for Smashbox at Sephora. He liked it so much he returned to LeSportsac in November to do the same with his holiday "Vacanze" collection. Fans lined up for hours for one-on-one time with the designer.
The last time the D.I.Y. ethic was pervasive was in the 1960s, when the independent streak of craftivism flowed through the flower children, who eschewed big-business interests in favor of nature-friendly make-it-yourself jewelry and clothing infused with the spirit of its creators.
Leading the current charge were friends Tiffany Tanaka, Jana Park, Courtney Young and Johnny Nguyen, who opened Queen's Candy Shop in February, to offer a place for Hawaii's young, experimental designers and artists to share their wares, including toys and music.
Spring's trends showed some of fashion's bigger directions. The '60s were on the mind again as space-age silver appeared on the streets, and designers adopted a geometric, Mod-inspired approach to fashion. The early cocoon silhouette gave way late in the year to the angular, architectural trapeze.
Marylea Conrad debuted her Melia Conrad line of swimwear and cover-ups during a fashion show at the O Lounge.
Goodbyes were said to Michele Lau, who headed to New York to further her designing career. The move paid off when she landed at the workshop of one of the fashion world's fastest-rising superstars, Phillip Lim.
Even good boys and girls can be fans of bad-boy jewelry. Loree Rodkin, a former entertainment manager-turned-designer based in Los Angeles, opened her first Hawaii boutique featuring her Gothic, rock 'n' roll-inspired jewelry.
At Phil's Gold & Diamonds, staffers have also noticed that a growing number of stylish men who've got the clothes, shoes and belts are also expanding into rugged, clean-lined silver and platinum jewelry.
Soleil opened on Kapahulu Avenue, the first stand-alone boutique to take a Polynesian fusion approach to style, combining street and Pacific island fashion.
Summer's shorts crossed over from the realm of casual day wear to evening elegant, which required a primer to avoid looking trashy. That meant balancing the inherent skimpiness of the look with the sophistication of voluminous, polished tops and appropriate footwear.
We said goodbye to swimwear designer Chelsea Gines, who decided to move to the mainland to be closer to California and Las Vegas markets.
Villa Roma closed its doors after 41 years of business. Owner Audrey Fu, above, cited the changing retailing landscape, with its ever-growing competition, as a contributing cause. Those who grew up with Fu flocked to the store for one last time to share their memories.
Shine Hawaii presented its first multidiscipline fashion show benefit to raise funds with the aim of encouraging youths to become involved in creative, healthful and community-oriented endeavors. A second event is planned for February.
Anyone who loves clothes must have an overstuffed closet. While you can give it away to charity or get together with your friends to swap unwanted clothing, Fashionista's Market made getting rid of discards fun with a communitywide Closet Swap. Oahu's first large-scale clothing exchange had about 250 swarming tables and racks at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.
Amy Davis came home to sign her "Island Life" limited-edition collection for fans at LeSportsac.
And, Hugo Boss' racing yacht, which reached Honolulu Harbor after a second place, Division 2 finish during Transpacific Yacht Race, was made available to preferred customers for short sails along the coastline.
Hawaii goings-on took a back seat to the proceedings during New York Fashion Week, where, having survived the bombing of Michael Imperioli's studio down the street from me in Chelsea, I braved the long lines to see such shows as Miss Sixty, which drew several Hollywood stars, Nikolai by Nicky Hilton, Temperley London and Heatherette, plus Yohji Yamamoto's piped-in rainfall and thunderstorm during the Adidas Y-3 show. It was a lot of work but fun, fun, fun. If you missed it, check out my September posts at www.starbulletin.com/blogs/ fashiontribe.
Alliway opened at Ward Warehouse, giving jewelry fans a permanent spot to find her jewelry, as well as accessories.
And while I was away, Neiman Marcus celebrated its 100th anniversary, I assume, in style.
After a scare involving lost funding, fashion-minded individuals and businesses pitched in to bring the second F.A.C.E. of Nuuanu fashion show and first Honolulu Fashion Week to life. The event welcomed its first invited designer, New York's Michael Kaye, while encouraging Hawaii's wannabe designers. The youngest to participate was 9-year-old Tiger Tam.
At the University of Hawaii Art Gallery, "Excelling the Work of Heaven: Personal Adornment from China" opened to present 700 rare and exquisite objects from the San Francisco-based Shyn Collection. Sharp-eyed viewers couldn't help but notice the similarities between the toggles carried in 19th-century China and the purse and cell-phone charms in wide use today.
Thanks to the University of Hawaii Apparel, Product Design and Merchandising Program and the family of Ethel Shiraki de Saussure Guyer, we were introduced to the work of this mid-20th-century designer from Hawaii, who made her living in Hollywood. A small show of her designs was presented at the department.
Marist College came to town to present a student fashion show and drum up some interest among those wishing to study fashion design or merchandising close to the Big Apple.
Fashion royalty Kelly Gray of St. John came to Neiman Marcus for a fashion show and autograph-signing session.
Surf Child surf boutique opened to offer surf-oriented clothing and boards for the young set. How much do you want to bet that others will follow?