Recently something has been catching my eye from the storefront windows of Epitome Boutique in Lahaina. I check out those familiar fashion viewports pretty often since I live just around the corner from the clothes store, and usually when my attention is caught like this my wallet gets lighter and my closet gets a little more crowded.
For the past two weeks, however, the display hasn’t been the customary hot little dress by some famous contemporary designer or the latest look torn from the pages of Vogue, but a fleet of posturing mannequins sporting light pink towels and nothing else.
The whole scene makes me think someone messed up and threw a big red sock into the laundry with the whites.
The idea behind the spectacle is that these plastic ladies have all just freshly arrived in the window from their annual mammogram, says sales associate Thomas Willows. He said the display is up in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and in honor of artist Sarah Kerwood-Joseph, a longtime friend to the Epitome staff, former Maui resident and 10-year breast cancer patient. Currently she’s out of remission and fighting the odds at home in California, but just last week she traveled back to Maui with 16 pieces of art to display and sell at Epitome’s “Think Pink” party this weekend.
Every year in October people recognize the struggle of hundreds of thousands of women and men who are affected by breast cancer, both survivors and those who lose the battle against America’s number two cancer-related killer of women.
The store is celebrating life with an event where everything will be pink, from the food and drinks to the fashion and the art. In addition to the Epitome debut of several exclusive denim looks created by LA designers Rock and Republic there will be door prizes, a silent auction for handcrafted jewelry and a best pink outfit competition.
But first and foremost will be the debut of inspired creations by featured artist Kerwood-Joseph. The whimsical works of her original collection, called “Underwater Goddess,” blend acrylic paint techniques with natural materials like crushed sea shells, pearls and seaweed to create ethereal mermaid portraits, tranquil in their ocean or sky settings. Her work as an artist began after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 25, when she moved from Maui in search of the best possible health care. She says her desire to return to Maui was her inspiration to create art centered on mermaids. Sales from this debut show will directly benefit the artist and support her medical care.
“[It’s] amazing, a relief really, to be recognized as something other than a cancer victim,” she said. In more ways than one, she believes that making art saved her life and encourages others who may be struggling with disease to find solace in creating art.
“I want her to feel like this night is a testament to her life and her work,” said Willows.
In addition to the wall-hung art, several local jewelry artists, including Vanilla Moon by Cathy Okinaka and Midori Jewelry by Tracy Morinaga, have donated exclusive items from their new collections to be auctioned off to benefit Maui’s Pacific Cancer Foundation.
So whether you’re shopping for denim, jewelry or fine art, you can spend without buyer’s remorse while your money goes to a very worthy cause. It’s the breast of both worlds. MTW