VIDEO UPDATE: Zonta Hosts Three Nights of HI Fashion

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Zonta Fashion Frenzy provided three nights of exquisite local fashion from Feb. 9 to 11, 2017, at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo, with headline designs by 19th & Whimsy and Kojo Couture.

In addition, Hawai‘i Island designs by Alohiwai, Wehi Designs, Vested Interest Hawai‘i, Colors of Life, Simply Sisters and Hana Hou Hilo were featured in pūpū, teaser fashion shows and the Designer Runway Show.

Fashion Frenzy puts the Zonta club’s mission to empower women through service and advocacy into action by creating a venue for local designers and women-owned businesses to showcase their unique talents and products.

Zonta also hopes to use Fashion Frenzy as a vehicle to promote Hawai‘i Island as the ideal location for local designers to manufacture their garments and products.

This year’s Fashion Frenzy included the biannual night market and designer runway show, as well as a new event, Dine Like a Diva.


“We’re constantly thinking of ways to create quality experiences while driving our mission to empower women and girls further into the community, explained Fashion Frenzy Committee Co-Chair Ashley Kierkiewicz.

“A special aspect of every Zonta Fashion Frenzy fashion show is that we use a mix of women that is representative of our community to model designer wear,” explained Kierkiewicz. “While some of the models are over 6 feet and have experience modeling in Honolulu, New York and globally, the majority of our models are ‘real women.’”

“That’s an important and unique part of our show; we want the audience to be able to identify with someone walking down the runway,” she continued. “Our models are able to wear couture and feel glamorous, which does wonders for a person’s confidence and self-esteem.”

But it was not only the exquisite food at Dine Like a Diva and the Fashion Frenzy that drew people to the event; it’s Zonta’s mission and work in the community.

Nadine Robertson said she came out because Zonta is a wonderful organization that represents all women in the world.


“We’ve come a long way,” she stated.

Robertson explained that women are becoming more and more empowered thanks to organizations such as Zonta that play a role in that empowerment. It is important to “encourage both young women and men to understand we are all one world and that women’s lives count,” she said.

Dine Like a Diva, Feb. 9,  Wainaku Executive Center

Zonta Fashion Frenzy weekend kicked off with Dine Like a Diva, a fashion-inspired, locally sourced dining experience.

The menu was curated by Jasmine Silverstein of HeartBeet Catering and Casey Halpern of Café Pesto.


The menu was paired with wines selected by Ryan Kadota from Kadota Liquor in Hilo.

Accompanying the meal were chocolate fountains; fresh, local fruit and cookies; and fresh-brewed Ka‘ū coffee and espresso.

Throughout the evening, gallery-style fashion shows were held, affording a sneak-peek of what was to come on the runway later in the weekend.

Each dish incorporated a fashion element—silhouette, collection theme and fabric texture—from a participating creator in this year’s Designer Runway Show.

Chef Jasmine said designing the menu for the Dine Like a Diva event was one of the most creative things she’s ever done with food.

“The process started with studying each designers’ collection; observing the styles, colors, textures, prints and overall theme within their line of clothing,” she explained. “The inspiration for each dish came from the designers’ unique collections.”

The entire Dine Like a Diva menu was gluten-, dairy- and soy-free, and according to patrons, not lacking in delicious flavor, elegance or familiarity.

(See “Chef Jasmine’s Decadent Dine Like a Diva Menu” below.)

“The food was extremely creative and matched the upscale design of the event,” said attendee Julie Agno. This is culinary event is the first of its kind in Hawai‘i.

Friday Night Market, Feb. 10, Sangha Hall

An estimated 800 people took part in the Friday Night Market at Sangha Hall in Hilo, which featured 45 local designers, boutiques, artists and tastemakers.

In addition to vendors, there was a Zonta photo booth, specialty cocktails, beer, live music and teaser fashion shows every hour.

Among the tastemakers was Anon Shine, local baker and owner of Big Island Babycakes, who was serving organic custom cupcakes.

“I was honored to participate in a Hilo community event that was so fun and for such an amazing cause as supporting our women and girls,” said Shine. “It was great to see all my fellow female entrepreneurs there and inspiring to be furthering our businesses while strengthening our community at large.”

Designers Runway Show, Feb. 11, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center

The third and final night of the fashion weekend was the Designer Runway Show, which included Alohiwai, Wehi Designs, Vested Interest Hawai‘i, Colors of Life, Simply Sisters, Hana Hou, 19th & Whimsy and Kojo Couture.

“Our goal is to showcase emerging and leading designers on Hawai‘i Island as well as across the state,” explained Kerkiewicz. “We moved our night market from the Kekuanoa Street warehouse to Sangha Hall and curated a mix of more than 45 local designers, boutiques, artisans and tastemakers; some vendors participated in 2015, but many were new. With the night market, we’re creating a platform for local entrepreneurs to showcase their unique talents and products in a way that encourages the community to ‘Think, Act and Buy Local.’ As part of this year’s night market, we also added teaser fashion shows on the hour that featured two to three local designers and boutiques.”

Alohiwai by Yari Rogers, Hawai‘i Island The Alohiwai collection showcase included three signature prints—proteas, lauhala and liko lehua. Yari Rogers hopes to bring awareness by donating 15% of all liko lehua sales to Rapid Ohia Death research to help save Hawai‘i Island’s iconic ‘o‘hia forests. Yari’s dream is to share her effortlessly chic fashion globally, while giving back to Hawai‘i.

Wehi Designs

Model Kaleo Francisco wearing 19th & Whimsy during the Designers Runway Show on Feb. 11, 2017 at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center During the final night of the Zonta Fashion Frenzy in Hilo. Photo: Crystal Richard.

by Marcel Evans, Hawai‘i Island Wehi designs uses fabrics hand-dyed in Bali and apparel designed and made here in Hawai‘i. Designer Marcel Evans’ contemporary women’s wear incorporates the uniqueness of island living, including materials and styles and a woman’s natural beauty.

Vested Interest Hawai‘i by Elizabeth Kent, O‘ahu “It’s been quite a year for women, much of it stemming from the recent election. The art wear I will show reflects that,” explained Vested Interest Designer Elizabeth Kent. “I feel that women were under great scrutiny and at times were vulnerable. Two of my pieces address that—one with copies of X-rays in it and the other made of bubble wrap, a play on transparency.
Most of Kent’s pieces have a kimono in them. Almost all of her pieces use vintage or repurposed fabric. “The women who are involved in Zonta are an incredible inspiration in all they do for the community. They walk the talk,” stated Kent.

In addition to being a designer Kent is a mediator, meeting facilitator and conflict resolution teacher. Creating art wear is a pleasure that brings her balance. Kent’s business name is a play on words, she explained, “Mediators cannot have a vested interest in a case, but I am interested in vests.  ‘Vested Interest Hawai‘i’ is for my art side.”

Colors of Life by Patti Pease Johnson, Hawai‘i Island Colors of Life is a luxury women’s wear label. Patti Pease Johnson, designer of Colors of Life, creates two-dimensional work using pastel and watercolor. Her products and fashion designs are based on original pieces of art that can be found in galleries around the world. The Colors of Life collection presented in the fashion show featured handpainted silk; a celebration of life and craft.

Simply Sisters by Regina Miller Hawai‘i Island Simply Sisters showcased their island-inspired, handpainted and hand-screened designs. Designer Regina Miller designs her modern Hawaiian collection, which can be found in shops statewide.

Hana Hou Hilo by Michele Zane and Shadi Faridi (mother and daughter), Hawai‘i Island Hana Hou Hilo featured designers and artists from throughout Polynesia, including Hawai‘i. The collection in the Designer Runway Show featured handmade, culturally centric pieces that perpetuate the arts. “I truly believe that this event brings only good to Hilo, and we are so thankful that the many hands of this community, including ours, gets to be involved,” shared Michele Zane.

“We are constantly inspired by the plants, weather and environment that surrounds us,” Shadi Faridi said. “An outfit should exude the island air, the language and the people, and hands that cultivate this culture and land. The boutique shop fronting Hilo Bay features one-of-a-kind apparel from all throughout Hawa‘ii and Oceania.

Headline Designers

Kojo Couture by Koa Johnson, Maui Kojo Couture is designed by Maui native Koa Johnson, who is known for his luxurious gowns for both weddings and pageants. Koa is now a teacher at the University of Hawai‘i Maui College of Fashion Technology, where he earned his associate degree.

From ti leaves and newspapers to disposable table cloths, Koa has made a name for himself by using unusual materials—and turned many heads. He was featured as one of 10 designers recognized for using fashion to make a statement about how Hawai‘i is a place where the natural, urban, local and global aesthetics intersect.

19th & Whimsy by Lauren Hayashibara, O‘ahu: A Q&A Session with Lauren Hayashibara

Q: What are your inspirations for the designs that will be featured in the Fashion Frenzy?
A: It was really a mix of color, style and texture inspirations. I wanted a really clean and neutral color scheme for this Spring-Summer 2017 collection. Black, white, ivory, eggshell, oatmeal and gray—easy-to-wear colors, or non-colors—that can be easily worn together or separately. I loved this black fishtail sweater knit fabric that I used in one style last year. It has tiny fish/mermaid tails knit throughout and creates a great texture. I wanted to bring that fabric back in black and also in white and make more styles—a top and two dress styles. Then I went looking for more textured fabrics that would fit into the neutral palette and found a beautiful eggshell with gold embroidered semi-sheer knit fabric with a vintage birds’ nest design knit throughout to create great texture and a transparent white feather embroidered lace.

Q: How does living in Hawaii influence your designs and style?
A: Living in Hawai‘i greatly influences my designs and style. I’m much more resort-inspired than designers who live with the seasons. I do love to change up my colors according to the season, but I keep my silhouettes Hawai‘i- and resort-friendly. Since I live in T-shirts and shorts on a daily basis, I like to always keep those styles as staples in my collection. I make tanks, tees, shorts and short dresses all year long, and I love adding styles like muscle tanks and dresses that can be thrown over a bikini for the beach and then dressed up later.

Q: What is something unique/special you can share with our readers about your designs featured in this fashion show?
A: I designed, made the patterns, and cut and sewed all the styles on the runway.  I do work with a local manufacturer on select styles, but most styles are still handmade by me.

Q: What age did you start becoming fascinated with fashion?
A: I think it was in middle school—so around 13 or so—when I really got interested in fashion and I fell in love with shopping at the malls.  And then I started getting interested in fashion design later on in high school and even took a community college introductory class in fashion design.

Q: How do you prepare for a career in fashion design?
A: There are so many ways to prepare for a career in fashion. Some people master sewing and pattern-making, and others master design and sketching. There are plenty of jobs on the mainland—in LA and NYC if you’re willing to move. It’s much harder to find a fashion design job here in Hawai‘i. That’s why I decided to start my own business. I went to UH Mānoa and got my bachelor’s degree in the apparel product design and merchandising program, with a focus on design. I interned at St. John Knits in Irvine and after graduating from UH, I moved back home to Los Angeles and got a job as an assistant designer and assistant merchandiser.

Q: How do you stay updated on current trends?
A: Sometimes I look through fashion magazines and online. I do love to see what people wear to awards shows since it’s so beautiful and pure fantasy. But for my collection, I like to design styles that I would wear or want to wear as well as listen to my customers’ feedback and hear what they want.

Q: How important is Zonta Fashion Frenzy?
A: Zonta Fashion Frenzy was so important for exposure for the club and fundraising.  I actually didn’t know about the organization before this event & I’m grateful that now I know about the great work the Zonta Club of Hilo does locally in granting scholarships for women business owners and women pursuing an education in math, science, engineering, and nursing.  I’m proud to be able to donate 20% of my sales this weekend to the club.  I also learned about the incredible global work that Zonta International does in giving women healthcare, fighting for their rights to get married later, and giving them the tools and knowledge to be self-sufficient.

Q: Can you share with us about your designs featured this weekend?
A: The Spring-Summer Collection includes: textured knit and embroidered fabrics, a cuffed T-shirt dress, low armhole swing tank dress with pockets and a mid-length cuffed tulip-side tee top with gold buttons.
I also included some jersey styles in the collection in my super soft preshrunk rayon/spandex. New styles include the new 3/4 dolman sleeve cocoon-style cardigan, racerback midi-dress with side slits and 3/4 sleeve wide-neck tulip-side jersey tee with 24k gold plated and rhinestone buttons.  Styles that can by styles separately or layered together.

The last three looks were styles for a later summer delivery—flowy cold shoulder styles in an exclusive “rainbow pineapple” print I designed in crepe de chine.  Cold shoulder top, high-waisted shorts with pockets, short dress and a maxi-dress.

Q: What are some local trends you feel will never die, no matter what the era?
A: Tees, stripes and black! Those will never die anywhere.

Q: What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself taking your fashion career?
A: I hope to work with more U.S. manufacturers so I can expand my wholesale business. I started selling wholesale in 2015 and it’s been a great addition to my business, just difficult when I’m still sewing most items myself.

About Zonta Fashion Frenzy

The last three Fashion Frenzy events have been biennial. Fashion Frenzy Committee Co-Chair Ashley Kierkiewicz shared that Zonta believes there is enough interest from the community for more of these kinds of events, so they are considering doing Fashion Frenzy annually.

Kierkiewicz shared that the Fashion Frenzy is Zonta Club of Hilo’s major fundraiser.

The club started organizing fashion shows in the 1970s and in 2013, Club President Tonya Ozone branded the event “Fashion Frenzy.” Two years ago, the committee decided to add a couple of components and turned their signature fashion show into a weekend event.

All event proceeds go to the Zonta Club of Hilo Foundation to fund projects that benefit women and girls right here in our community. Some of our projects and special events include:

  • Hands are not for hitting – preschool reading project where we read a book of the same name with the mission of addressing/preventing domestic violence
  • Pay it forward – program to provide micro-grants for women starting or expanding a business
  • Scholarships – for young women seeking higher education in STEM, business and nursing
  • Girls engineering day – day-long workshop for girls ages 9 to 13 interested in STEM
  • Operation HIRE education – job readiness workshop
  • Denim Day – part of a global effort to stand up against sexual violence
  • Zonta says no – campaign to end all forms of violence against women and girls
  • Rose award – biennial recognition of women who have made a significant impact in the community
  • Weinberg projects – sweat equity project in exchange for $10,000 grant to chosen non-profit
  • Dress for success – currently in the development process; Zonta Hilo is working with other like-minded organizations to start this program which would benefit Hawai‘i Island women in need

The Zonta Fashion Frenzy committee is made up entirely of volunteers.

About the Zonta Club of Hilo

The Zonta Club of Hilo was founded in 1950, and is the only Zonta club on Hawai‘i Island. The Hilo club is also the largest club in the state with more than 45 members. Zonta International is a global organization comprised of nearly 30,000 members in 1,200 Zonta Clubs in 66 countries. Membership with Zonta is open to both men and women.

To learn more about the club’s service projects, special events, advocacy efforts and scholarship opportunities, visit www.ZontaHilo.org.

Chef Jasmine’s Decadent Dine Like a Diva Menu

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Among the 45 local designers, boutiques, artists and tastemakers at the Zonta Fashion Frenzy Friday Night Market was local baker and owner of Big Island Babycakes, Anon Shine, who served organic custom cupcakes, Feb. 10, 2017. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Ono-licious Fashion inspired by Hana Hou Hilo Macadamia Nut Curry Crusted Ono with a White Pineapple Jam and Green Onion Garnish. This dish was developed based on Hana Hou’s lauhala theme. The crunchy macadamia nuts represent the lauhala, and the white pineapple and green onion are quintessential to Hawai‘i and that old-plantation-days feel. Hana Hou is giving the ancient art of lauhala weaving new life with the many creative lauhala designs they are bringing to the fashion world.

Sushi Redux inspired by Vested Interest Nori Boat with Toasted Macadamia Nut Sushi Rice, Sweet Miso Sauce, Namasu Carrot, & Spicy Daikon Microgreens. Vested Interest’s unique collection of kimono-style fashion gave me inspiration to use Asian themed ingredients. This is how the ‘sushi-boat’ developed, using locally grown macadamia nuts and daikon micro greens, as well as traditional ingredients like sushi rice and miso. The colorful designs and beautiful fabrics are represented in the many colors and textures within this dish.

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Inspired by Alohiwai desgins the Island Spice pupu was a fresh Ulu (breadfruit) chip with Puna Goat Cheese, spicy liliko‘i ni‘ oi jelly and arugula garnish served by HeartBeet Catering during the Dine Like a Diva event at the Wainaku Executive Center, the first of three nights during the 2017 Zonta Fashion Frenzy Feb. 9. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Island Spice inspired by Alohiwai Spicy Lilikoi Ni‘oi Jelly and Puna Goat Cheese on Fresh ‘Ulu Chips. Alohiwai is an up and coming business based out of Puna, where we sourced the goat cheese, and where you can always find lilikoi and ulu in abundance. Her collection represents Hawaii in a unique and stylish way. The patterns and prints on the soft fabrics of Alohiwai are complex and smooth, represented by the spicy lilikoi jelly and goat cheese, respectively. The spicy element of this dish, from the ni‘oi chili in the lilikoi jelly, represents the way Alohiwai’s clothing makes anyone who wears it look hot.

Sweet Simplicity inspired by Simply Sisters Okinawa Purple Sweet Potato Truffle with Toasted Sesame and Avocado Bite. Simply Sisters designs are very much simple and yet elegant and each garment is usually bicolored—one base color, with a beautiful design (that represents something unique to Hawai‘i) in another color. This dish is also very simple, made from only five ingredients and two very bold and beautiful colors: Purple Sweet Potato and Green Avocado.

Coco Beet Swirl inspired by Colors of Life Beet Bisque with Coconut Cream & Fresh Kalo Fry. The collections by Colors of Life and Wehi Designs inspired this dish. Both designers integrate a lot of color onto silky smooth fabrics. The colors and textures of the beet bisque represented both designers’ themes. The kalo fry is an element that gives the dish an added layer of texture and represents our place here in Hawai‘i.

Kojo Complexity inspired by Kojo Couture Grilled Big Island Beef Tenderloin with Hibiscus Demi-glace, Spicy Chimichurri, and Coconut Feather Garnish. The unique collection by Kojo Couture inspired a very bold, rich, sensuous dish. The daring and haut collection was deserving of a dish that would give the eater an experience of depth, as Kojo gives to his fashion. Tenderloin is rich and satisfying, and the ‘haut’ element is represented in the spice of fresh chimichurri.

Chic Ceviche Bites inspired by 19th & Whimsy Kauai Prawn Ceviche with Big Island Avocado & Citrus, & Cilantro and Coconut ‘Bacon’ garnish. The collection from 19th & Whimsy integrates the cute with the chic, the casual with the whimsical. This dish developed from their simple and fun designs. The ceviche was a casual and yet unique dish, with simple elements of flavor and texture. The touch of coconut bacon represents the whimsical aspect of their designs.

Jasmine Silverstein, HeartBeet Catering  

HeartBeet Catering offers retreat catering, personal chef services, gluten-free and vegan wedding and birthday cakes, as well as classes on making your own fermented foods and gluten-free baking. Chef Jasmine’s family also runs Sweet Cane Café in Hilo.

“Many people are becoming aware of the idea of healthy food and realizing that ‘healthy’ does not have to mean ‘tasteless,’ explained Chef Jasmine.

Modeling Alohiwai signature print Liko Lehua by Yari Rogers at the 2017 Zonta Fashion Frenzy Designer Runway Show in Hilo on Feb. 11. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Model Naomi Ahu wearing headline designer Lauren Hayashibara’s line 19th & Whimsy during the Zonta Fashion Frenzy Designer Runway Show on Feb. 11, 2017 at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo. Photo: Crystal Richard.

A piece that caught nearly everyone’s attention was a bubble wrap kimono by Vested Interest Hawai‘i Designer Elizabeth Kent during the Zonta Fashion Frenzy Designer Runway Show, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Noriko Roth modeling Colors of Life designs by Patti Pease Johnson during the 2017 Zonta Fashion Frenzy Designer Runway Show in Hilo, Feb. 11. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Model Jasmine Kierkoewicz wearing a white floral Vested Interest Hawai‘i kimono by Elizabeth Kent during the Designer Runway Show at the 2017 Zonta Fashion Frenzy in Hilo, Feb. 11. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Models Raquel Balga, Nicole Matsuyama and Kalei Tam during the second night of the Zonta Fashion Frenzy Friday Night Market at Sangha Hall in Hilo, Feb. 10, 2017. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Model Malia Storm modeling Hana Hou of Hilo during the 2017 Zonta Fashion Frenzy Designer Runway Show, Feb. 11. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Model Naomi Ahu wearing headline designer Kojo Couture in the 2017 Zonta Fashion Frenzy Designer Runway Show, Feb. 11. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Model Vanessa Houle wearing a Kojo Couture gown at the Zonta Fashion Frenzy Dine Like a Diva vent, Feb. 9, 2017, at the Wainaku Executive Center in Hilo. Photo: Crystal Richard.

(From left) Models Malia Storm, Kaleo Francisco, Jasmine Kierkiewicz and Vanessa Houle wearing Kojo Couture by designer Koa Johnson (center) at the Dine Like a Diva event Feb. 9, 2017, the first event of the Zonta Fashion Frenzy in Hilo. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Wearing designs by show headliners Kojo Couture and 19th & Whimsy, (From left) Vanessa Houle, Kieryn Kaaihue, Liana Brouillette, Breanna Kubo, Noriko Roth, Angie Warren, Crystallene Pacheco, Brooke Loree, Kalei Tam, Nicole Matsuyama, Raquel Balga, Kaleo Francisco, Jasmine Kierkiewicz, Liealoha Hutchinson, Malia Storm, Naomi Ahu, Kelly Martin-Young and Noe Martin after the Zonta Fashion Frenzy Designer Runway Show at Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo, Feb 11, 2017. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Model Kaleo Francisco wearing a Simply Sisters dress by Regina Miller during the Designer Runway Show the final night of the Zonta Fashion Frenzy Feb 11, 2017. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Jasmine Kierkiewicz modeling a Kojo Couture dress by Maui designer Koa Johnshon during the fashion teasers at the Dine Like a Dive Event held at the Wainaku Executive Center Feb 9, 2017. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Models wearing Kojo Couture at Zonta of Hilo’s Dine Like a Diva event at the Wainaku Executive Center Feb. 9, 2017. Photo: Crystal Richard.

Onlookers oohed and aahed when model Leialoha Hutchinson revealed the back of her Wehi Designs top during the Designer Runway Show at Imiloa Astronomy Center, Feb. 11, 2017. Photo: Crystal Richard.

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