What the Heck?
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
At the Nordstrom Ala Moana Center Gala Fashion Show on Wednesday, all the models came out onto the runway for the finale.
Thousands pay to shop early at Nordstrom
My favorite moment at the gala Nordstrom opening last Wednesday? Amy Hanaialii Gilliom, singing jazz standards, wandered into the crowd and found herself in a surprise duet with Campbell Estate trustee David Heenan. While HECO's Peter Rosegg glided Macy's Deena Nichols around an impromptu dance floor in the marble aisle.
Nearly 3,000 people paid $150 a pop to get dressed up and get into the new Nordstrom before anyone else. There were open bars, and open cash registers.
In the shoe department, new employee Bev Leong, who'd worked for Longs for 12 years, was thrilled by her first night on the job. Her only regret? She couldn't see the full-scale fashion show, held in a tent in the parking lot. "Never seen a real one, wish I knew what they're like."
Here's what they're like, Bev. Tall and thin people walk up and down a runway, wearing clothes. The women models all pouted like teenagers forced to attend a family gathering. The male models seemed happier, possibly because when they left their shirts unbuttoned, the middle-aged women in the audience all cheered.
A number of party pros tried to calculate the cost, including the 30 models flown in from Los Angeles. "You couldn't do this whole party for a million," said one. "A million and a half easy."
The ticket price? Nordstrom gave all that money to three local charities.
"You've heard about how great the Nordstrom people are," said Hawaii Theatre's Elaine Evans. "They're even better." Her opinion may have been swayed by the $125,000 the theater stood to gain from the night's proceeds.
"On top of everything," said Evans, "they were detail-oriented, did most of the work. All I had to do was get into my little black dress and show up."
An Ethnic Slur You Don't Hear Everyday
Got to meet the man one store staffer referred to as the "biggest Nordstrom of all." That would be 75-year-old Bruce Nordstrom, recently retired as chairman of the board.
"I used to travel here 25 years ago, when we had the shoe departments at Liberty House," he said. "We did so well, I thought we ought to have our own store. Took a while, but we Swedes are slow."
On a Spree for Free
The day after the Nordstrom opening, Ala Moana Center threw another party, this one for the shops that line the new two-story bridge between Nordstrom and the rest of the center. For $40, you got martinis, desserts from Hale Aina award restaurants - and the right to shop in the stores first.
Lava House Survives Hot TV Chef
After Anthony Bourdain's Hawaii episode of No Reservations aired Monday, we got a panicked e-mail from a mainland reader.
Bourdain had stayed with Jack Thompson, whose "Lava House" B&B is one of the last remaining structures in the Big Island's Royal Gardens subdivision. The rest is almost entirely covered with lava.
Bourdain ended the episode by announcing that Thompson had been evacuated in February and "Madam Pele had finally settled the matter."
Was Thompson OK? The reader wanted to know. Did he still have a house?
Yes. Bourdain was exaggerating. "Everything's fine up here in lava land," said Thompson calmly, over the phone. "I consider this a very safe place. With lava, you can just step out of the way."
When Royalty Drops By
The only princess-y thing about the princess was that she was late.
Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn was due at 10:30 last Saturday morning at the East-West Center. At 11 a.m., various dignitaries, all in black suits, were still waiting in the sun. "I'm cooked to about medium well," whispered the chairman of East-West Center's board of governors, Roland Lagareta.
When she did arrive, the princess was also in black suit, with sensible shoes and support hose. She's beloved in Thailand for her good works. She'd had a busy few days, accepting an award for her dad, the king, at a fundraiser the night before. She already met that morning with officials from the Pacific Disaster Center, then with students.
This, her only public appearance, drew a crowd of hundreds, cameras from all four TV stations and a gaggle of photographers.
There were speeches, but the crowd seemed most interested in seeing the Royal Thai Dancers and Musicians, expecting classic Thai dance. Instead the musicians performed a song, with English lyrics by the princess herself, about a boat coming to Hawaii, including little hula moves from the costumed Thai dancers.
"Not sure I was ready for Thai hapa-haole hula," said one puzzled scholar near me.
The princess then rededicated a Thai sala on campus, not a large structure. Picture an incredibly fancy, gilded bus stop shelter, and you wouldn't be far off.
However, the rededication required a vast stampede of news cameras across the lawn. Especially as the princess posed once, left and then returned to pose with a committee that had raised scholarship money for Thai students.
The crowd followed her as avidly as cameras. Some in the crowd even knelt and held out offerings wrapped in yellow paper.
Finally, the princess whisked off in a Lincoln Town Car. A cheer went up in the crowd. They weren't happy to see her gone, exactly. But a visit from royalty is always a strain, and this one had gone without mishap.