‘Project Runway’ and beyond for Kini Zamora

Fashion WWD 100“I want to make clothes that people will wear, not styles that will make a big splash on the runway.” This quote by the late iconic designer, Oscar de la Renta, certainly sums up the “Project Runway” season 13 finale. Let me just say, the judges preferred high-art and a big splash this season.

Last week’s final episode began with the aftermath of the harsh, but frankly, accurate critique from the judges. Hawaii’s Kini Zamora literally had less than a day to redo and restyle his entire collection.

To recap the runway show, the collections were true to each designer. Charketa Glover’s collection was vibrant and sexy, but not very cohesive. I loved her tribal two piece look. She was the first to be eliminated.

Stand-out pieces from Zamora's collection.

Stand-out pieces from Zamora’s collection.

Next to be sent home was Zamora. The judges praised his neoprene off-shoulder top and leather shorts and noted that he was a gifted technician. But Zac Posen said that he needed to “hone his editors eye.”

After Zamora was eliminated, he went backstage to greet his family, and his aunt hugged him while saying an oli (prayer) for him in Hawaiian. It was a true chicken-skin moment that the world got to see. Message boards went crazy for that spontaneous exchange.

(l to r) Amanda Valentine's finale look. Charketa Glover's stand-out piece.

(l to r) Amanda Valentine’s finale look. Charketa Glover’s stand-out piece.

And then there were two, Amanda Valentine’s styling was spot-on, I loved the jewelry that she designed; it definitely did make her collection look more luxe. Sean Kelly really did bring it, but he went against Nina Garcia’s advice and there was fringe everywhere.

Guest judge Emmy Rossum broke it down: “Do you want the person to win who can build a brand like DVF or Donna Karan? Because that’s what Amanda feels like to me. An American woman who’s designing for the American woman. Or do you wanna pick high art, someone that’s combining menswear and womenswear and doing something different?”

Stand-out looks from Sean Kelly's winning collection.

Stand-out looks from Sean Kelly’s winning collection.

The judges chose fringe and high-art and Kelly was named the winner.

I asked Zamora at last week’s viewing party at The Republik what the most memorable part of the whole experience was for him, and what’s next for him. Here’s his response: “I am so appreciative of this whole experience and watching it again with everyone here is so amazing. My favorite part of it all is that through my designs, I got to connect with so many people around the world. I have fans in Japan that reach out daily, and the fans I have from the mainland are just as loyal and passionate as my fans from Hawaii. I still have so much more to share. I’m working on a few projects, the most recent is the launch of our Spring/Summer 2015 collection coming up during Hawaii Fashion Month.”

Zamora’s mother, Valerie, shared her highlight of the season: “When we were in New York, people kept coming up to me and saying, ‘We love Kini; we love his designs and we love his heart.’”

Next week, I’ll give you a behind-the-scenes peek at what it takes to prep for the Kini and Dinko runway show.

Here’s a look at the finale viewing party:

"Project Runway" finale with Zamora and fans at Safehouse

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-Photos by Amanda Stevens

Supermodel Miranda Kerr draws a major crowd

IMG_0250Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr and Japanese pop artist/musician Takahiro of Exile recently were in Honolulu to film an ad campaign for the mega-popular, Japanese brand Samantha Thavasa.

It was supposed to be just media invited to a photo session outside the Ala Moana Center store, but it turned out to be a mob scene, I haven’t been shoved like that since my mosh pit days. After Melissa Chang and I got our shots, we headed over to Mariposa at Neiman Marcus, where Frolic’s Olena Heu emceed a reception.

It was cute. This was the first time that I saw a giant crowd play jan ken po, and even more epic, they played with Kerr. Here’s a look:

Super model Miranda Kerr muse for Samantha Thavasa

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Outside the Samantha Thavasa store, the media and crowd await Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr and singer/actor Takahiro of the Japanese rock group, Exile. —Photo by Melissa Chang


Coming up: ‘Project Runway’ recap and finale

With the “Project Runway” season finale happening tomorrow, Thursday, Oct, 23, it looks to be a close race between the top four designers. Yes, I have been able to interview Hawaii’s Kini Zamora after the challenges, but I really have no clue as to who took home the prize. The last two episodes of season 13 were intense, and it was clear that no one is safe. In preparation for the big finale, here’s a short recap and my prediction:

ep12looksWho’s In and Who’s Out (episode 12)

The challenge was to create a street-chic look inspired by New York City, and a new look from a losing challenge. The judges loved Zamora’s red, one-shoulder dress (described as “extraordinary”) that he repurposed from Mitchell Perry’s losing design. In the workroom, mentor Tim Gunn told Zamora to ramp up his denim skirt. It proved to be bad advice; the judges weren’t impressed with the ruffles and said, “less is more,” but they loved the trench coat.

There was no winner in that episode, but Zamora, Sean Kelly, Char Glover and Amanda Valentine moved on to show at New York Fashion Week.

collectionFinale Part 1 (episode 13)

The designers went to Rome on an inspiration tour to create their final collection. Gunn served as their guide, and it was great to see the friendly rapport between the designers as they toured Italian monuments and sipped wine.

Tim GunnAll fun aside, after returning home, each designer had five weeks to complete their 10-look collection. Gunn visited each designer in their hometown. Needless to say, the Hawaii visit was the most entertaining. In true local fashion, Zamora’s family and friends threw a heartfelt authentic luau and even gave him a short hula lesson.

While in his garage/design space, Zamora confessed that upon his return, he had a bit of designer’s block. Gunn was encouraging and loved his beginning pieces. Fast forward to the judges’ reaction of a sneak preview of three looks. Zamora seemed to have the harshest criticism and was asked to basically do-over his collection. If anyone can pull out a new chic collection with little time, it’s him. Take a look at the montage of looks above from Zamora’s original collection. Stay tuned to see how he revamps it all. I can’t wait!

10629675_10202269686817088_3018396226904918072_nProject Runway Finale & Viewing Party

After watching last week’s episode, my call is that Zamora throws a hail Mary pass and hits a home run – how’s that for sports reference cliches? But seriously, knowing his body of work, it is very possible. I must say that Valentine’s accessories might make her a tough contender and when Kelly gets it right, he can be a champion. We’ll see tomorrow night.

Viewing party details (Zamora will be there):

The Safehouse
1349 Kapiolani Blvd., 3rd floor
Thursday, Oct. 23 starting at 5 p.m.,
All-ages with adult until “Project Runway” ends at 8 p.m., then becomes a 21+ event for Acoustic Nights
No cover

Hottest Halloween costumes of 2014

IMG_0350Halloween enthusiasts Allie Lee and Gary Deliz joined me on my trek to find the hottest and best costume deals at Spirit and Goodwill.

The verdict: Superheroes are really big, especially among twentysomethings, along with any character from “Frozen.”

My mission was to outfit this dynamic duo, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go in the super hero direction. So I got a long blonde “Game of Thrones” wig from Spirit and an ice blue prom gown with a glass beaded necklace from Goodwill to transform Allie into “Elsa” from “Frozen.”

As a shameless “Walking Dead” fan, I was in awe of Jonathan Freitas’ amazing make-up for attendees of this past weekend’s Zombie Crawl, so I asked him to transform Deliz into a “Walker” for our Frolic KHON2 segment Tuesday morning.

Here’s a look:

Hottest Halloween looks of 2014

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Master Make-up artist Jonathan Freitas transforming Gary Deliz into a "Walking Dead" zombie for our KHON2 morning segment.

IMG_2330According to Party City and partycity.com, the Top 10 Halloween costume trends this year are as follows:

1. Frozen Fabulous (Elsa, Anna and anything “Frozen)
2. Mad Minions! (The “Despicable Me” craze continues)
3. Chilling Black & Bone (Skeleton prints on black with Victorian-style stripes and lace are flying off the racks)
4. Rainbow Ravers (Ombre, neon and rainbow will get you second looks)
5. Geek Chic (Nerds are cool)
6. Stylish Superheroes (Always a crowd favorite)
7. Cirque du Burlesque (Get your wild on with sexy catsuits and pleather)
8. Monster High Fashionistas (From Frankie Stein to Draculaura, time to channel that inner monster)
9. Zombies with Character (The gory looks are endless)
10. Magical Disney Princesses (Who wouldn’t want to be a princess for a day?)

Hawaii Opera Theatre’s ‘Madame Butterfly’

IMG_0048Passion, unrequited love and deceit – elements found in Giacomo Puccini’s beloved and iconic “Madam Butterfly.” This play, which serves as the opener for the Hawaii Opera Theatre (HOT) season, begins today and continues on Oct. 12, and 14.

HOT artistic director Henry Akina directs the play with his signature heart, humor and unique nuances. For those who haven’t seen a production of “Madame Butterfly,” it’s set in the mid-19th century, but the story line is timeless. Cio-Cio-San, Japanese for “butterfly,” is played by Lina Tetriani. She has a romance with American Naval officer Pinkerton (played by Eric Margiore), who seems too good to be true. This play inspired love stories popular in today’s culture; most notably, the Broadway musical “Miss Saigon.” Another main character is Anne Namba’s costume design — kimono couture that bridges the essence of vintage Japanese fashion with contemporary flair.

We had a chance to see a private viewing of the play. Here’s a look:

HOT's 2014 production of Madame Butterfly

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-Photos by Amanda Stevens  -

To learn more about this production and the rest of the 2014-2015 opera season, download the brochure: 2014-2015 HOT Opera Season.