Ever since Eve coerced Adam into snacking on the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, then started snickering at his nakedness, fashion has been a major issue. What started off as a few fig leaves strategically placed against critical body parts has transformed into a huge industry full of hits and misses, plus-sized models and waifs, caftans and bikini’s.
In fact, the fashion world is so big and diverse that this year we decided to focus specifically on local designers–people who dream up clothes and jewelry here on Maui–only. And we’re sure glad we did, because come to find out Maui designers are a lot more stylish and talented than even we believed. It’s the truth. So move over Paris, New York and L.A.–Hawai`i’s moving up the fashion chain, and none of our designers will ever have to waste precious time by designing silly stuff like coats and earmuffs.
Without further ado, we bring you our 2008 Fashion Issue.
Pam Peterson of Makawao is a gem. She’s been designing porcelain jewelry with a definite Hawaiian flavor for two decades. “It happened by accident,” Peterson says. “I was teaching art at Seabury [Hall] and started firing pieces with some of the students and people liked them and wanted to buy them.” Peterson, who is one-eighth Hawaiian, also taught art at Mid Pac and Punohou on Oahu. “After my children graduated, life took a turn and I realized that I had to make an income,” she says. “I did it with my jewelry and was able to keep my house and everything.” Her jewelry making is quite a process, with multiple firings and different temperature settings for each stage. Her work features all of the images that remind us of the culture of Hawai‘i, from petroglyphs to the Hawaiian quilt. You can find her work on Maui, Oahu, Big Island and Kauai. Here on Maui she has pieces in Collections, Martin and MacArthur, Maui Hands, Voyage and Hana Hotel’s gift shop. Of course, there are just two times a year when she offers her jewelry directly to the public–at Made in Hawaii and The Merrie Monarch Festival. For more information, please call one of the shops listed above. [STARR BEGLEY]
The last time we checked in with the fabulous ladies behind Wing’s Hawaii–Samantha Howard, Melody Torres and Becky Dosh–was 2004, and they were still designing clothing and jewelry out of the third bedroom of their house. Today Wing’s Hawaii has its very own, very adorable store at the Pauwela Cannery in Haiku where they still sell fashionable, comfortable, gorgeous clothing with hand-screened elements like fern leaves as well as stunning jewelry. The only difference is that they’re even better at their craft then they were before. Which is kind of hard to believe, because they started out pretty damn strong. Besides selling their products at the Pauwela location, the girls let their creations out into the wild to be sold in places like Voyage, Maui Hands in Lahaina and Maui Riders. Their line is also available throuought Hawai`i and as far away as New York. Wings started out as a school project of Howard’s while she was attending the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. Talk about a Maui success story. I wonder what they’ll be doing in another four years? For more information call 575-7870 or visit www.wingshawaii.com [SB]
Oh, how I love a skimpy bikini… but not too skimpy. I’m the kind of girl that wants a swimsuit that bares as much as I can get away with, without going over the line. Yes, that line is thin, but it’s there. Luckily Maui designer Sara McKusick has created her very own bikini style somewhere between the daring Brazilian and traditional American cuts. “‘Safari’ refers to all of the surf trips which I have been on in my life,” McKusick says. “These include traveling to Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico, Brazil, California, Indonesia, and Hawai`i. ‘Blue’ signifies my relationship to the ocean and how without it nothing in my life would even exist.” An avid surfer, McKusick wanted a bikini that was sexy and practical. This is no easy task. Today, you can find Safari Blue–suits that give you the best of both worlds–in Island Spice, HI Performance and Hana Highway Surf. It does no harm that Safari Blue suits aren’t just cut in a flattering way, but come in darling prints. My fave? Peacock! www.safaribluehawaii.com [SB]
Paradise Millinery founder Katherine Carey could be dubbed “The Mad Hatter.” Carey–besides being an all around artist–makes gorgeous hats from vintage fabric that scream, “Look at me! I am fabulous and totally unique.” Some of you may remember when Carey had a store in Paia. Maybe you’ve even been to one of her hatty-celebrations in the past. Word is that Carey is back to designing hats. Thank God—I mean, where else are you going to get as cool a hat as hers? “I started sewing and creating and before I knew I had a collection of unique hat originals in fabric,” she says. “I decided to have a ‘hat show’ and set it up with my friends as models and friends of my mom’s as potential clients. I remember my father being a little annoyed that he had to go downstairs and let all these women take over his living room. He changed his mind when after the two- to three-hour presentation I had cash and checks equaling $500! We all changed our minds at that point. I had discovered a business.” Carey’s hats are available at both Fifi and Bootzie and The Enchantress at the Shops of Wailea as well as at the Hui No E‘au. Visit www.kcareyart.com or call the studio at 573-6365. [SB]
Maui Thing’s motto is “Stuck on Good.” I find it refreshing that there’s a clothing line of wearable art designed by people raised in the islands who want to send out local messages that are broader than just, “What Faka, What?” The clothing is all sweatshop-free and earth-friendly, meaning that little children aren’t stuck inside making your duds when they could be doing other fun stuff like tending sheep or playing Grand Theft Auto. Designs similarly reflect a positive lifestyle. My favorite design is the “Be Yourself” shirt for toddlers and children. It’s a simple pattern of tako (which is also Maui Thing’s logo) in different shades of a color with a single, bold-color tako sticking out like a sore tentacle. The message behind is, “In a sea full of look-a-likes, what’s a kid gotta do to get attention? You’ve got it. Be Yourself.” Other T-shirts rock messages of peace and the preservation of endangered species’ like the Hawaiian Monk Seal and Nene Goose. Maui Thing is political and peaceful for the mind, body and planet. They’ve got a Wailuku showroom and an online store. For more info visit www.mauithing.com [SB]
If I were to buy a piece of jewelry made by anyone on the island, I would probably choose something by Morphic Designs. Jewelry designer/silver and goldsmith Chris LaPolla creates the most unbelievably realistic and awesome skull jewelry on the planet. He uses a wax casting method, meaning that only a few pieces can be made at a time. Given the detail that he puts into each piece, it’s a time-consuming process. Besides rings that fans say are “ten times better than Keith Richards’ ring,” he also makes a pimp bracelet called Maui’s Hook–custom made to fit each individual perfectly–and gorgeous, humongous “Rock Candy” rings and bracelets with high-quality, multifaceted cubic zirconia stones set in precious metal. That’s super-bling to the max. For more info www.morphicdesigns.com [SB]
IVY HANNAH HANDBAGS
Local designer Ivy Hannah started making bags for herself seven years ago when she couldn’t find sufficiently artsy ones to fit her personal style. Her unique and eye-catching bags, she says, got more attention on the street than expensive ones from big-name designers, prompting her to begin making them for her fans. The Fringe Bag is her favorite. This funky and perky design comes in bold shades of orange, yellow, pink and, for evening use, black, as well as in large, small and clutch sizes. Some are lined with material from gorgeous, vintage dresses and others have delicate bamboo handles. The Hula Bag became her personal trademark style when she began selling it at the Shops at Wailea and at trendy Upcountry boutiques. The grass skirt bag manages to look even more adorable when it’s stuffed to the max. She currently sells her bags out of her Makawao studio and can be reached at 280-0141. [JESSICA ARMSTRONG]
Chris Moore has been designing clothing on Maui–primarily garments made of silk–for about 20 years. Over the years, she’s worked in other people’s retail stores and run stores of her own. Today, she owns CY Maui in Wailea, a boutique geared to “resort” style clothing and Manikin, her studio/retail store in Wailuku. Since Manikin is so close to my office, I’ve been in it several times and always get sucked in to admiring the gorgeous colors and flowing fabric that goes with silk. There are lots of silk shirts and dresses; upstairs is full of myriad fabrics stacked chin high on worktables. But Moore keeps her sewing machine downstairs so she can keep an eye on the retail end of the store while remaining productive. She told me that her mom used to sew and when she was growing up there were always patterns strewn about the floor. She figures that’s why she can “see” patterns. Personally, I think she’s just a natural—a rare individual with a great eye for color and the way fabric drapes a human body. For more information call 891-0782 or email [email protected] [SB]
Since I moved to Maui my swimsuit wardrobe has quadrupled—from one to four bikinis. That puts me dead last in the competition to see who has the largest collection among my lady crew on the island, but back home in the chilly northwest I’ve got all my girlfriends beat. Like most girls, I’ve got the old standby that makes my bust go BaBoom and my back bootylicious. And I have the “what was I thinking?” funky print suit that hides in the bottom of a dresser drawer. But next time I decide to spring for beachwear I’m definitely going to hit up Maui Girl, where Debbie Kowalski Wilson’s colorful creations dominate the walls and racks. Several of her barely-there styles gave minimal coverage to Perfect 10 models this year in the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Celebrities like Gwen Stefani and Paris Hilton have scoured the racks in her funky store in search of something new to wear before hitting the Wailea waves. She makes some incredibly flattering and affordable solid and print separates in full to miniscule coverage styles, but I’m thinking of splurging on one of her super cute limited-edition skull print or pirate patterned ones that ring in somewhere closer to $200. At least I won’t have to worry about running in to another girl on the beach flaunting my style! 12 Baldwin Ave., Paia, 579-9266. [JA]
Ten years ago Jacob Perrault took a big dream and turned it into a little store. He wanted to travel the world to collect ancient stones and recycle them into exquisite new creations that people could collect and love—to give new life to old jewelry. “You can say we try to bring the most untouched stone in the world today,” he says, referring to his semi-precious stones that have never been dyed or treated for visual effect. He remakes the rare stones, which come from India, Africa, Nepal and Tibet into bracelets, necklaces and earrings using only pure silver. His daughter Sundora shares his passion for natural, antique stones and sells her own elegant line of jewelry. For many of her pieces she works with amethyst or jade beads and bold stone medallions connected with hoops of silver in varying sizes. All the pieces seem a little bit enchanted and infused with the age-old wisdom of a distant, ancient land. Little Tibet, corner of Makawao Ave. &Baldwin Ave. 573-2275. [JA]
GOLDEN CHILD JEWELRY
The chunky designs that emerge from Andrea Alfedor’s Kula workshop may be chic enough for trendy L.A. hipsters, but they’ve also got a laid-back, wearable vibe that makes them totally appropriate for Maui ladies to flaunt on the beach. Her small collections start with the new and vintage materials with vibrant colors and textures that she personally seeks out to make her unique creations for Golden Child Jewelry, which not only get space in exclusive Maui boutiques but in her new L.A. showroom and on the shelves at a new Fred Segal store in Santa Monica. Her pieces adorned the beauties in the 2008 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, too. Alfedor’s new project is a collaboration with Letarte Swimwear, another fashionable Maui design company. I’m completely in love with Golden Child necklace designs, which fearlessly vary between minimalist beaded strands of kukui, teal and mother of pearl and bright, bold chandeliers of iridescent capiz shells. www.goldenchildjewelry.com [JA]
CHICKS WITH STICKS
I love, LOVE artist and designer Tami Snodgrass of Chicks with Sticks. Her artwork is super chill yet edgy and funky. And the clothing she displays said art on is 100 percent plain comfortable. Snodgrass has been designing and hand-screening her Chicks with Sticks line for about four years. In that time it hasn’t changed much. Snodgrass still surfs every day and her clothing line is still going strong. Her first batch of T-shirts was given away to women who surfed and worked on the North Shore. Today, a fun collection of illustrated surfer-girls doing everything from sipping martinis to holding guns in between catching waves is available on undies, T-shirts, tanks and even tunic dresses at Hana Hwy Surf, Neil Pryde Maui and Kamali`i Surf all the way in Virginia. For more information visit www.chickswithsticksmaui.com [SB]
Maui has been blessed with stunning Tamara Catz designs for more than eight years now, but some of the biggest changes in Catz’s career have occurred in the years since we featured her Spring 2005 collection in Maui Time’s first Fashion Issue. Her line of elegantly bohemian clothes are still richly hand-embroidered and stitched to chic perfection, but instead of distributing her collections around Maui in various hip boutiques she’s finally opened her own beautiful Paia clothes haven where her adoring fans and delighted newcomers to Catz style can find most of her exceptional creations in one place. “The feel of the collection is the same; handmade and one of a kind, but I’ve been focusing on retail and concentrating on designing more exclusively for my store,” she told me. She’s also been focusing on an exciting new line of “green label” items made from organic fabrics that will still have the luxurious Tamara Catz style, but with a new sense of global responsibility. Possibly the biggest change in her designs came last summer when she began a wedding collection. She describes the dresses as light, simple and elegant styles for island brides that are timeless, but in a modern way. I’d describe them as breathtakingly beautiful, flowy and unique un-bridal like dresses that a girl could actually wear more than one time, the kind of dress that makes you want to be barefoot on the sand with the man of your dreams. The same is true for her collection of bridesmaid dresses. I’m sure any girl would be happy to shell out for one of these gorgeous creations since they’re the kind of thing that could rotate through a closet for a lifetime. Tamara Catz, 83 Hana Hwy., Paia, 579-9184. [JA]
CULTURAL CREATIONS JEWELRY
Jeanette Hablewitz collects antique beads and charms–made of glass, stone, bone, ivory, teeth (for real!), silver, brass, copper, coins, amulets, amber and shells–from around the globe. Some are over 2,000 years old. She then uses them for the impossible-to-duplicate jewelry that she’s been selling at the Maui Swap Meet for the last 18 years. “People are baffled as to why I sell at a swap meet but I love The Maui Swap meet, and consider it the only place on Maui that you can integrate with every and any kind of person, ethnic group and economic group,” Hablewitz says. Her creations are intoxicatingly attractive. There’s been many a Saturday where I’ve been tempted to pile on about 30 necklaces and make a mad dash for the parking lot, but alas, stealing from such a creative-soul would be deadly on my karma points. “I love my work and consider my jewelry desk a ‘meditation cushion’ where I relax, clear my mind of thoughts, and let the creations flow through me,” Hablewitz says. “This peace I feel while creating I hope to be sharing with those people who wear my jewels.” For more information visit www.jeanettehablewitz.com [SB]
Yoki Meyer has been busy since she was profiled in our first Fashion Issue back in 2004. While she’s still creating adorably lacy little thongs, bras and camisoles designed to enhance and flatter female figures, her line of pretty panties has taken a turn for the comfortable. Stretch lace and silk have been replaced by cotton/lycra and rayon/lycra blend fabrics in many of her designs, which these days lean more toward the cheeky, flirtatious boy short and sporty brief styles than the bare-it-all thong. Of course, her new styles are still as sexy as ever, with plenty of embroidery and netting in soft, stretchy fabrics. And while Meyer remains passionate about designing luxury items for ladies to wear beneath their clothes, her home business has grown to include wedding alterations. She adores working with brides to tweak and transform off-the-rack wedding dresses to get the perfect customized fit so that they’ll look their ultimate best on their big day, and those who seek Meyer’s personal attention on their gowns often find something sexy and delicate from her collection to don underneath or reveal on their honeymoon. Dragonfly collection available at The Enchantress, Wailea or by appointment at 572-5884, or [email protected] [JA]
Buyer beware! Anne Laure Giordano, owner of AnAloha in Lahaina, not only speaks with a delicious French accent that sounds incredibly sexy, but she creates smoking hot clothes as well. “When I came to Maui, I would pick up a beautiful dress, but when I look at the price tag it’s hundreds of dollars,” she told me. “So I thought, I can make this dress myself.” And she did. Giordano’s designs are difficult to describe, but easy to wear. The style definitely compliments island living, but also hold a distinct European flavor. Giordano uses fabric that is “Lahaina temperature-friendly” like cotton, silk and rayon jersey. Giordano favors curvy women (“They have the boobs and the butt”) so most of her designs are loose around the belly, forgiving at the waist and yet still sexy as hell. Her designs also feature little abalone shell or red coral adornments and often boast Hawaiian sayings and flora and fauna imagery. And she has a line of men’s button-down shirts that are hot enough to induce some major “met this really hot guy on the beach last night” fantasies. For more information www.analoha.net or call 661-5274. [SB]
I remember when Judith Maurice and Britta Alexandra first opened up The Enchantress in Paia and later at the shops of Wailea. What I don’t remember is when they began to lovingly refer to each other as Fifi and Bootzie which, by the way is the name of The Enchantress’ sister store in The Shops of Wailea. I have always loved the beautiful designs that have come from the two women–espessially the silk jackets by Judith who carefully chooses the colors and pattern that goes into each masterpiece. Initially the jackets were made to compliment the silk sarongs that they carry, but if you ask me, they can easily be a stand alone piece. I could spend hours thinking up new and creative ways to wear one. And I’m not alone–Paris Hilton loves The Enchantress and all of the beautiful goodies that it holds. Say what you want, but I’d be willing to stand up and fight anyone who wants to say that Hilton doesn’t have good fashion sense. To quote Hilton on The Enchantress, “That’s hot!” For more info visit www.mauienchantress.com or call 891-6360. [SB]
About Jen Russo
I write lifestyle and culinary columns for MauiTime. I love being a Maui girl and adore my big family. Dedicated food taster, blogger, internet fanatic, and Maui and Hawaii specialist.