COURTESY ANN KAGAWA LEE
Tricia Ejima models Ann Kagawa Lee's toilet-paper creation. The Honolulu attorney won third-place in a national contest.
Honolulu woman flush with 2-ply talent
Her wedding gown made of Charmin wins national notice
It's a far cry from her day job, but Honolulu attorney Ann Kagawa Lee took third-place honors last week in a toilet-paper wedding gown design contest sponsored by Charmin and Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum.
The contest took place at the museum, with the three finalists in attendance.
Out of 564 entrees nationwide, Katrina Chalifoux of Rockford, Ill., took first-place honors for her sheath dress with a raised flower pattern from molded toilet paper, and received a $1,000 American Express gift card in addition to the trip to New York.
Terri Glover of Marlin, Texas, came in second place, taking home a $500 prize for her creation, and Lee won $250 for her romantic fitted gown, complete with toilet-paper bouquet.
The dresses will be displayed in Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museums around the world.
Kagawa learned about the contest in the Star-Bulletin and entered on a whim at the suggestion of friends.
"I'd been to a bridal shower and did a toilet-paper dress there, and everyone was surprised by how quickly I could make it," said Lee, who is now back at home. Designing doesn't intimidate her because, she said, "I sew all the time. I like to sew and design things.
"I submitted it because I thought it was kind of a fun thing, and there's no stress because I had nothing to lose."
She ended up spending about $15 on four extra-large rolls of Charmin Ultra-Strong, two-ply with a DiamondWeave pattern, and a glue gun. The contest required that dresses be held together only with glue or tape.
COURTESY ANN KAGAWA LEE
At the Ripley's Believe it or Not! Museum in New York, Ann Kagawa Lee and daughter Kim Donohue pose with Lee's dress entry. Donohue joined her from Long Beach, Calif.
The dress was made in sections, including separate bodice and train, that could be detached and reassembled on the spot with tape.
"The best thing was winning the trip, because I hadn't been back to New York for 41 years," she said. She was able to tour the city for three days, take in sites such as the Statue of Liberty, visit with friends and family, and go behind-the-scenes of "The Today Show," which featured the contest.
Lee definitely wants to try again next year, thinking she might have an edge on newbies.
"This year's first-place winner was in second place last year, and last year's winner was second place the year before," she said while noting that this year's top two finishers also don't have jobs to take them away from the creative process.
Lee will be retiring on Monday, after which she'll have abundant time to exercise her design skills, whether using fabric or toilet paper.
"The trip to New York was a great retirement present," she said.