Tropical inspiration


POSTED: Thursday, October 08, 2009

Two years ago, Kanna (Kahn-nah) Yamauchi was in Hawaii showing a handful of fashion designs as part of a larger show presented by her mother Mitsuko Yamauchi.

Away from the showroom, Kanna was inspired by the blue of the sky, the hues of hibiscus and other tropical flowers and the ocean's aquas to indigos as delineated by the vertical drop to the sea floor.

Now she's back to show how pieces of Hawaii have been woven into the Spring/Summer 2010 collection for her brand, Yokang. A scholarship fund-raising fashion show will be presented by Hui Makaala Oct. 18 at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel Hawaii Ballroom. Tickets are $65 per person for the event, which begins with 9 a.m. boutique sales and will feature a silent auction, noon lunch and show at 1 p.m.

The collection debuted Sept. 27 during Hong Kong Fashion Week, which led to talks with Chinese corporations angling to market her brand in the United States. She hopes her reception here will be just as warm.

Speaking by phone from Okinawa with the help of an interpreter in Honolulu, Yamauchi said she believes there's a place for her designs here because Hawaii and Okinawa are similar in terms of culture and climate.

“;I use a lot of flower designs in my textiles that are bright and bold,”; she said.

Although it's natural to assume Yamauchi caught the design bug from her mother, she said she actually trained at the side of her father, a textile artist and expert at dyeing fabric.

Yamauchi's feminine and flowy dresses, while gracing a woman's figure, also make the most of showing off colorful prints created by her husband, textile designer Hiroshi Tanaka.

Her love of color is what brought her back to Okinawa after her formal fashion education in Paris.

She described Parisian style as being chic, but monotone, a characteristic that has little appeal in Okinawa. Like her mother, she wanted to find her own way of fusing the traditional Okinawan bingata, or natural-dye textiles, with contemporary fashion.

Although Yokang's mix of color and flow registers as youthful, Yamauchi said her clients range from 20 to 90 years old. Her dresses run from about $300 to $500, and orders will be taken after the fashion show, which will feature 52 pieces off the Hong Kong Fashion Week runway, plus 30 creations made for Hawaii.

Although Paris has no allure for her, she said our similarities with Okinawa makes Hawaii feel like home, and her dream is to one day open a boutique here.

“;If I could stay, I would,”; she said.




Yokang fashion show

        40th Hui Makaala Scholarship Fund Luncheon and Fashion Show features designs by Okinawa designer Kanna Yamauchi:

» Place: Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, Hawaii Ballroom


» Date: Oct. 18, with 9 a.m. fair and silent auction set up, noon lunch and show at 1 p.m.


» Tickets: $65


» Call: Karen Shishido at 551-7868, or Patsy Takaesu at 395-7229