Ode to Hawaii: Hawaii Girls in the National Spotlight (Part 1)

June 2, 2010

Like how we like to claim Barack Obama as our own, it’s natural for every town, city, or country, to feel kinship and pride of any of their countrymen or women achieving great success. Hawaii is no different. Indeed, the obstacles appear far greater as Hawaii is an island in the Pacific Ocean, the 50th state of the USA, and culturally diverse where stereotypes and generalities can emerge. Yet, professional athletes, actors, models, businesspeople, musicians, and scores of others have reached national and international success. I want to celebrate it. I also want to share the paradise I live in. And nothing seems more appropriate than to celebrate Maui girl, model (she is also the face of Billabong, too), and surfer Tori Praver, who has a featured photo spread in this month’s Marie Claire magazine. The layout captures the ethereal, yet active energy of our lifestyle; the fashion what we should all aspire to. And thanks to Marie Claire for setting an example of authenticity from the inside out. Now, that’s style.


Photographed by Matt Jones; Styled by Isabel Dupre in Alexander Wang, Burberry, Mango and others.


SM road trip: Milano

March 11, 2010
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Milano is a business city; business first, fantasy second. It was our first stop after two red eyes from Honolulu, but jet lag could not curb the excitement to spend a day in beautiful Italy. Rather, it would hit me later like a falling 20 ton concrete slab. Well, we just had 24 hours before traveling again so we walked about even if the Winter Olympics were just underway! Walking from our hotel, the air was crisp, but not overbearing as sunlight swathe the city with pockets of warmth. The last time I was here was during late summer and groups of tourists populated the city centre, eateries, and streets with cameras, shopping bags, and tour guides. In winter, there are more locals and the cold weather wears on people. Yet, the duomo, the city’s prominent symbol, still stood majestically as people congregated in the city centre, roasted castagnias (chestnuts) filled the air and the feeding of the birds still ranked as an easy money-making opportunity.

Duomo in Milano

The birds scattered away. Of course, I did not have any feed in hand, yet.

Two birds pecking at my hand with the feed. Honestly, I love animals but I am not such a fan of birds. (Sorry, bird lovers). Pretty much, only the tourists do stuff like this. Well, we got the photos.

Scenes around the duomo in Milano:

Gelato! But it’s cold outside.

Like New York, black is a predominant color of choice.

In the Galleria with the Louis Vuitton store in the background.


Sunlight through the glass ceiling.

Milano style!


Surfing and Hawaii does not get better than this…Here’s the day before the Eddie

March 5, 2010
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I never tire of watching this. Rev it up without even getting off the couch. Some days you just need that extra kick. My friend posted it on his wall and even if the event is more than a month old, it is one of those events to reminisce for awhile. Thirty thousand were on hand at the North Shore, crammed along the highway and beach, to watch the Eddie Aikau contest and millions watched the live stream on the Internet.  Just a natural wonder that man is trying to conquer.


THEY’RE BACK! Humpback whale season in Hawaii!

January 29, 2010
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Photo courtesy of website

Spotted a couple of humpback whales at Diamond Head breaching and exuberantly playing with one another. What an absolute delight! It was not my first encounter as I also saw them (and a pod of dolphins, turtles, and fish) up close off the Waianae coast, where the waters are usually glassy. They’re massive and awe-inspiring creatures. It never gets old. Check this website for more info on whale watching tours in Hawaii! Enjoy!


Starting a tradition…showcasing the merchants of Queens’ Marketplace, Big Island Style

January 21, 2010
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When it is your first experience, you celebrate it: your first car, your first date, your first job, and all the emotions attached of experiencing something new for the first time. It’s momentous. Like a cover page of a chapter, it marks a defining milestone.

Opening of the show

With that said, welcome to the first fashion show at the Queens’ Marketplace in Waikoloa, Hawaii on the Big Island! I had the pleasure of attending the Queens’ Marketplace’s first fashion show to witness a first-rate production where the hearts and soul of all participants emerged as the stars of the show and fueled their desire to leave “no stone unturned.” Focus International, a modeling agency and producer of the fashion show, in conjunction with Queens’ Marketplace, one of the shopping centers located on the resort property that includes the Hilton Waikoloa and Marriott hotels, collaborated to produce an hour-long, first, fashion show showcasing 18 retailers, like Blue Ginger, Island Pearls, Hawaiian Quilt Collections and Island Gourmet, to just name a few. Throw in a local dance troupe; a local Hawaiian chanter and hula dancers; a “Michael Jackson” impersonator; a local harpist; a singer/musician, who during the day is a dentist in town; skillful guys operating the elaborate sound system and stage; 60 exotic models and precocious kids from Focus International working in Hawaii, nationally, and internationally; props; different, artistic themes displayed for each retailer’s product; two hosts; and of course,  a warm, balmy night set on the Big Island of Hawaii; and you have more than a “fashion” show, but live entertainment to keep you tapping to the beat and being captured by the creativity.


A local dancer performing Tahitian with Martin, one of the top models.


The segment is for retailer Island Pearls showcasing its Tahitian pearl jewelry.

This fashion show was not an easy task. It easily could have bordered on cheesy as the “fashion” ran the gamut from hair accessories, Hawaiian quilts, dive wear, Tahitian pearls, Hawaiian and surf wear. A fine line existed between being a “mall fashion show” and something more polished. But Focus International succeeded. It was pure entertainment and they nailed it. It’s a show that also could be taken anywhere: Honolulu, on the mainland, and internationally, because the audience would appreciate the integration of the Hawaiian culture, music, exotic models, and jubilant spirit of the children.

Featuring a segment for retailer Local Lizard & Friends and using a gecko theme.

From the opening, the show drew you in with horns blowing, beautiful chanting, hula dancing, flowers, and a sprinkling of anticipation of what was to come. My other favorite segments included the modeling by men, women, and children, combined with the Tahitian, hip hop, and jazz dancing by the local dance troupe Kealakehe Dance team. No one provided any reason to leave because all were so talented. If Queens’ Marketplace and Focus International continue to have a yearly fashion show of its merchants, I believe it can be one of the biggest events that both the locals and the tourists can look forward to as well as  a great opportunity to spotlight products from its retailers!

Segment from retailer Quiksilver. Not just bikinis and boardshorts.


Segment featuring the retailer Claire’s showcasing accessories.


The models for this segment all dressed in jeans and a white top, to showcase sunglasses from retailer Sunglass Hut.

Segment featuring bikinis from retailer Quiksilver.

The models dressed in black to showcase the retailer Pacific Nature’s jewelry (coral red here).

Models showing fashions from Savvy Butik.

Segment featuring quilts from the retailer Hawaiian Quilt Collections.

And of course, dancing with “Michael Jackson!

The participating merchants in the show included Blue Ginger, Local Motion, Blue Wilderness Dive Shop, Sunglass Hut, Reyn’s, Island Gourmet, Island Pearls, Giggles, Hawaiian Quilt Collections, Genesis Gallery Hawaii, Quiksilver, Perfumania, Lids, Exclusive Designs, Claire’s, Pacific Nature Jewelry, Local Lizard & Friends, and Savvy Butik.

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A Reflection of Christmas in Hawaii

January 7, 2010
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I lived where it snowed, and the season of “winter” is usually characterized by the cold and snow. And often times, the cold and snow may last well into spring, which may postpone the debut of flip flops and shorts for some time. Yet, if it is your lifestyle, someone probably does not blink twice, but hopefully revels in the beauty of fluffy ice, the crisp, clean air, and the warm smells of cinnamon and hot chocolate. However, I have spent most winters in Hawaii and the weather would remind me of the difference in lifestyles I experienced- the fact of no snow, no cold air, no heavy jackets, sweaters, scarves and boots, and no heaters inside. Rather, it is hot with tropical breezes, you can swim in the warm, Pacific waters,  and you just want to be outside. Since it is a tourist destination, Hawaii does celebrate Christmas with beautiful city lights, food, song, and basically anything you may desire…sans the snow and cold.

Here are some photos taken on December 22, 2009 at the Hilton Waikoloa on the Big Island of Hawaii. The palm trees were swaying in the wind as it was quite windy that day and surf was up! A statuesque Christmas tree stands in the lobby as in most of the hotels in Hawaii. Everyone should experience at least Christmas in Hawaii once! Obama just did!


A Peek into Kiting in Tel Aviv, Israel

January 7, 2010
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My friend Dustin, a great photographer and graphic designer (contact:, sent me some photos of a kite shop and the beach while he is in Tel Aviv, Israel. I hear kiting is popular even if we don’t see anyone on the water here! So if in Tel Aviv, we know we can try to kite! Thanks, Dustin!

The kite shop on the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel

Looks like a variety of twin tips and directionals!

Sunrise or sunset?

The photographer, Dustin, and what looks like a great car to drive!!



What would your video of 2009 look like? HawaiianRyan, deejay and video artist, shows us how to live it up in India, Vegas, and Hawaii!

January 6, 2010
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When my creative, comedic, and just downright fun cousin (aka HawaiianRyan) sent me his video of 2009 with his girlfriend Jenn, I marveled at the art, loved the song (love BEP!!), and  enjoyed watching his journey. A local deejay at 102.7 DaBomb ( with a shout out to Sam Da Man), he’s a video artist, producer, and director, and has always brought fun and laughter into the family. Good job Ryan showing us how to live it up in India, Sri Lanka, Vegas, and Hawaii! Experience the moments. Carve new paths. Live it up. Fully. Simply. Whatever way you can.


Give it up for trying something new…Skiing on Big Waves in Maui. Oh yeah!

December 28, 2009
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Check out this video…SKIING BIG WAVES ON MAUI

Give it up for those who think outside the box, try something new, and just go for it. These guys ski, kite, surf, and love big waves and found a way to enjoy it all by using skis to ride the big waves on Maui. I love it! The creativity, the drive, and their passion are evident and contagious. Not to mention, like I always say, “Come to Hawaii and you will find an ocean of rock stars.” That’s right. I am in awe of the talent and energy you see here. Use your talents and see yourself energized. Hope you find a part of your day to just do something fun. You have to or you risk shriveling away.



December 18, 2009
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Some guys dread even the word “shopping.”  It means being trapped in the mall, outlet, or department store causing mental hyperventilation. They have no interest in finding the bargain: the experience of exploration this way. So retailers need to find diversions to help this. A jewelry store on the North Shore smartly has a big flat screen tv mounted on their wall with the latest and greatest surf footage. What a great idea because it keeps his attention, while relieving stress for any woman to shop at her leisure. Other stores have comfty sofas, a plethora of magazines, and food and drink. Ah yes, get to his stomach and satiate him. That is another answer! However, what if he needs something, but always procrastinates because he rather be outside surfing, golfing, hiking, running, or heaven help you, working. Well, if you are catering to men, this store in San Francisco proved to be an ideal shopping model for men: Cafe Coton. The store I saw had rows and rows of beautiful, cotton shirts displayed and grouped according to prints. It was a small store, but I found it very interesting as men would come in, tell the sales clerk his shirt size, pick it out from the rows of prints, (most likely not even try it on!), buy it, and be out the store within 15 minutes or so. It certainly was becoming a sociology issue to ponder. The store had a niche: upscale, collared, long sleeve shirts; ties; socks; and briefs. Guys bought it even if it may be a little more expensive than I think most may be willing to pay for a long sleeve shirt because it was easy, a very quality product, standard in the sizing, and it just looked great. A sure confidence booster and versatile to wear for day, business, paired with jeans, or an evening event.  I loved all the shirts and I don’t even think Cafe Coton does much marketing in the US.

I think everyone -the guy with the affliction, the woman who has a guy like that, or the retailer itself- can learn from this model: make the experience easy with definite organization of the inventory, reasonable price points, planning, and diversions. No big heaps of clothes to sort through or racks and racks of inventory to browse. Easy. Simple. Uncluttered. Maybe this can be applied in real life as well?  As a minimalist at heart, it speaks to me, but it is just so hard to maintain. Observe the stores out there and maybe you will have some tips to share!


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    My Mantra

    DEFY FEAR™ Be open to change. Take risks. Revel in adventure and new experiences. Travel. Read. Engage your senses. Learn from your mistakes, your successes, and from the wisdom of others. Unravel a puzzle. Create and use your imagination. Be active. Find the positives. Keep it fun. Be EXTRAORDINARY. Love. Live the good life. Enjoy the ride. - I AM. Copyright 2009 by Stephanie Matsumoto STYLE. All rights reserved.