Thursday, June 2, 2011

'Embraced' in leather

Nadine Kam photos and video stills
Romi Beppu, left, and Kamakoa Page show off a couple of designs from Bliss Lau's Fall-Winter 2011 through movement.

Back in February, I watched Bliss Lau's exquisite "Embraced" Fall-Winter 2011 collection come to life via dancers online, so I was happy when I heard Hawaii RED Magazine was going to present the show locally, a homecoming for the designer.

It came together at the last minute, so there wasn't a lot of time to promote the show or audition dancers, but Bliss, who obsesses over every detail down to the nail designs on their fingers and toes (her notebook contains pages of her nail illustrations and The Spa at Trump was called on to recreate her black-and-nude design) considered herself blessed to have found all four of the dancers she needed within an hour of auditioning them on the 26th. Having been through the dance search before in New York, where she now lives and creates, she knew exactly what she was looking for, dancers who were strong, sensuous and womanly.

The show took place May 29 at The Waikiki EDITION Lobby Bar, and modeling Bliss's latest leather-and-chain body armor were local dancers Romi Beppu, Kamakoa Page and Cassandra Glaser, and visiting from Canada, Melina Ehrhardt. Erhardt is a multi-tasker, who' here training for the Iron Man competition. When she's not acting, dancing, singing, swimming, running, bicycling, etc., she's also designing accessories from tire rubber!

It was a homecoming for Romi, former principal dancer for the Boston Ballet, as well.

The "Embraced" collection was inspired by movement and balance, with each piece offering a suggestion of apparel and the power of transparency. Because her background is in fashion design, rather than strictly accessories or jewelry, she pieced leather strips in a way that mimics the seams of garments. As usual, many of her pieces are versatile. Pieces shown as skirts can also be worn over the shoulders.

Bliss Lau, center, with her models/dancers after the show. From left, Romi Beppu, Kamakoa Page, Cassandra Glaser and Melina Ehrhardt. Their hair was by Richie Miao of Etch Salon, with makeup by Marc Cornwall.

Some details of Bliss's hand-crafted work. Her body armor was layered for the show over swimsuits by 1979 and Acacia Swimwear.

Alexo Wandael photo at
Bliss Lau's Tuxedo is available on her website at $195 to $228.

It wasn't supposed to be a sales trip for Bliss, but I was a real pain and bugged her to bring some of her things anyway. I've been wanting some of her pieces for at least a year, but they're not the kind of jewelry most boutiques here are equipped to handle. They have to be displayed properly for people to get an idea of just how they wear and go on, and prices in her spring/summer collection are in that spot (about $150 to $400) where, in Hawaii, people who get it can't afford it, and people who can afford it don't get it or find them too edgy.

For example, I picked up her Art Deco Tuxedo, similar to the basic Tuxedo above, and people have been suggesting "S&M" and saying, "Oh, you're so wild!"


I just think of it as interesting, body jewelry that can dress up the dullest T-shirt in several ways, which makes it perfect for Hawaii and summer, when T-shirts and stripped-down basics reign. Even a basic tank top can be made to look more interesting with her jewelry.

Next up for the designer: fine jewelry. I'm hoping to get a peek when I'm in New York this summer.

From left, Ron Kayano, Ali Shibasaki and Donovan Yonamine, who sang as part of the duo Da Pushovers during the post-show cocktail party. I met Ron when he was a student designer at Honolulu Community College. Since then, he's become a restaurateur instead, opening Tandoori Corner in Waimalu, and coming later this month, Aloha Crepes.

Also enjoying the show, from left, were Melissa Rivera, Safiya Om and Kari Fox.

Here's a video link by ashadedview with Bliss talking about the collection.

The post-show party doubled as a launch party for Jessica O'Neill's (right) new blog, Jessica's Traveling Blog. She'll be moving to New York in July so launched the blog as a way to keep in touch with friends and clients here while she pursues her design and production ambitions. Among her well wishers were Amanda Stevens, and Dee and Omer Kursat.

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