Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, September 28, 2001

The French Festival will go on, showcasing all
things French in fashion, food and entertainment.
Above is a vignette from the Christian Dior
segment of the 1998 Fashion Ball.

French Festival to show
Hawaii is open for business

By Tim Ryan

Viva la French Festival of Hawaii.

Taking a cue from President Bush, Gov. Cayetano and the show business motto "The show must go on," the fifth annual French Festival of Hawaii will continue on schedule next month, not in spite of the recent tragic terrorism events but because of them, said Festival executives and First Lady Vicky Cayetano.

"We want to show the world that Hawaii is a very safe place to visit and is open for business," Mrs. Cayetano said yesterday during a news conference at Washington Place.

The Oct. 27 to Nov. 4 festival will feature several French theme galas throughout Honolulu highlighted by the French Festival Fashion Ball, Nov. 3, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Proceeds from sales of tickets priced from $300 to $1,000 were to go to the Friends of Washington Place, but the minimum $20,000 proceeds expected will be given instead to the Hawaii Community Foundation's Sept. 11 Fund to help relief efforts on the mainland.

This year's ball, "Technique Moderne," will feature haute couture by Chanel, and Spring 2002 national debuts by Christian Dior and Neiman Marcus, presenting Christian Lacroix. Mime Marcel Marceau is guest of honor.

The Festival was "very close" to being canceled following the attacks in New York and Washington out of respect for victims, said festival president Joyce Reed. But after several meetings with the festival committee, Hawaii state officials and business leaders, the decision was made that "as part of the proactive rebuilding process, we must continue on," Reed said.

The festival costs about $2 million to stage, the bulk of which is paid for by 15 to 18 of the core businesses involved in the event, she said.

The ball also is being reorganized to help Hawaii financially, including purchasing more local products rather than ordering them from the mainland, organizers said.

There are about 850 tickets available for this year's ball, nearly 25 percent more than last year.

Last year's festival generated about $3 million in publicity for Hawaii, Reed said. In addition, there are a number of visitors who come to Hawaii specifically to attend the event, including 35 percent of the Japanese nationals in Hawaii at that time, she said. Reed said that for the first time in the festival's history, three tour companies based in Japan have organized specific tours to Hawaii for the event.

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