February 24th, 2019 / posted by paularath

Photo of Zain by Christopher Aoun for Sony Pictures Classics

This has been a good year for the movies. It didn’t start that way. There was seldom a movie I wanted to see until “Green Book” arrived, thanks to the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF).

But during the past few months some wonderful foreign films have finally arrived in Honolulu Theaters. My favorite among them is “Capernaum,” and I will be on the edge of my TV chair tomorrow night, anxious to see if this superb piece of art wins “Best Foreign Film.” It so deserves to win!

“Capernaum” means chaos, and refers to the chaos of refugee life in the slums of Beirut, Lebanon. The story is about a 12-year-old boy named Zain  who is suing his parents for giving birth to him. He grew up as a non-existent, invisible child because he has no birth certificate or any papers to prove he’s alive. And his parents just keep having child after child, when they are unable to afford any of them.

In a broader sense, it’s about the millions of refugee children who have fled from Syria with their families and are living an injustice every day in the slums throughout the region. They are a lost generation of children.

The uber-talented director is a Lebanese woman named Nadine Labaki. She did not use a casting company, but rather scoured the slums of the city to find the actors for every role.

The lead is played by a Syrian refugee child named Zain who grew up in the appalling slums of Beirut in the same way his character did, working in the streets and never being allowed to attend school. Smart, sensitive and resilient, Zain’s is a story of survival of the fittest.

Labaki considers the movie a totally collaborative effort. She listened to everything Zain and other actors told her about life on the streets, and incorporated their real-life experiences into the script. “It’s my duty to show it,” she said of the often brutal images.

A warning: This movie can be really hard to take at times. Although he is 12, Zain is about the size of an eight-year-old due to malnutrition. His life is unspeakable, or rather unthinkable. The situations he finds himself in are heart-wrenching.

The good news is that the real-life Zain and his family have now achieved refugee status in northern Norway and Zain is going to school for the first time in his life. He also has a bed of his own for the first time. And he’s traveling the world to promote “Capernaum,” in a little black suit, bringing joy to everyone he meets.

Go see it. It’s still playing at the Kahala Theatres. And join me in rooting for this gem to walk away with an Oscar.

-Paula Rath

February 20th, 2019 / posted by paularath

Photo by Andreas Rentz, Getty Images

Yes, there were moments when I shared a space with the late great designer Karl Lagerfeld. But of course, he took up all the space, and most of the oxygen, in the room. He is as magnetic and mesmerizing as the world’s fashion writers say he is. They also bear witness to his misogyny and the complex legacy he lived, and now leaves behind.

My moment was during a trip I took to Paris and London with the University of Hawaii Fashion Design and Merchandising students in 2001. We had been treated to a private tour of the (then new) Musee de la Mode. After the students left to go shopping, Karen Kamahele, who teaches fashion technology at Honolulu Community College, and I hung around to enjoy the museum some more.

We had it all to ourselves, so we made another round of the amazing couture creations from Madame Gres, Poiret, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior and other fashion innovators of past decades. We marveled at the originality, complexity, dignity and grace of these garments.

When we came to the Chanel exhibit, we were surprised to see there were no garments on show. Instead, it was a collage of marketing materials, such as TV screens, posters, fashion photography, invitations and ad layouts. Not a single Chanel fashion creation. “Oh my,” we exclaimed to one another. “What would Karl Lagerfeld think?”

Little did we know, we were about to find out.

Karl Lagerfeld was renowned for his highly original and over-the-top fashion shows held in venues such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We were sitting at the museum’s computers, watching a series of historical fashion shows parade past our eyes, when the doors opened and in walked three burly men in black suits, severe frowns and arms akimbo. Behind these imposing body guards was Karl Lagerfeld. We did our best not to stare, or at least not to allow him to see us staring.

But there he was, larger than life, wearing his signature black tailored suit with ultra-starched 4-inch tall shirt collar and black gloves. Impeccable and imposing!

As he walked slowly through the exhibition, we could hear soft murmurs in his lilting French: “Ah, oui, c’est jolie,” “Tres belle,” “Magnifique.”

Karen and I gulped when he approached the Chanel section. “OMG! What will he think when he sees electronics and photographs instead of couture and Chanel tweed?”

Lagerfeld walked back and forth in front of his, the largest section of the show, and nodded politely. He was smiling and commenting, but sadly he was beyond our earshot, so we’ll never know what he said. Or, for that matter, what he really thought. But I suspect, since Lagerfeld is known to have been outspoken and brutally honest, that he really was happy with the portrayal of his Chanel in this marketing manner.

No, we never tried to break through the barrage of his body guards and entourage to meet him. We were content just knowing that for a brief moment we shared a space with Karl Lagerfeld.

So, what do you think his heavenly conversations with Coco Chanel might be like? Would this clash of fashion titans create sparks and lightening or would they become the best of fashion buddies?  Let your imagination soar and please let us hear from you!

– Paula Rath

November 22nd, 2018 / posted by paularath

Paula brings the colors of Christmas to you with red dotted Swiss linen.


Lynda Sakraida of Hadji Baba Bags is having a pink moment.

Here are some of the bags, cards and watercolor paintings you can see at the Indige Black Friday and Small Biz Saturday sale. Details of the sale are below.

“Home Away from Home,” an abstract watercolor by Paula Rath.

Lynda fashioned this little gem of a bag from a vintage sari.

Paula’s “Iceberg, Antarctica” highlights the issue of Global Warming.

Pinks in pintucks and patchwork from Lynda.

Everything we create is one-of-a-kind, so come early or you may miss out. There is free parking behind Indige; enter on 9th Avenue. Here are the relevant details:

– Paula Rath

November 21st, 2018 / posted by paularath

Skip the masses at the malls on Black Friday and Small Biz Saturday. Join Lynda Sakraida, Ron Irwin and me at a sane and soulful holiday sale.

I have been creating cards that will make ideal gifts for the very special people on your list. Each card is one-of-a-kind, hand sewn in layers, with many featuring vintage fabrics, buttons and ribbons. A little love and a lot of passion goes into every card.

In addition, I will be selling original watercolor paintings, matted and ready for giving, for just $25 each. They are a highly personal and meaningful gift.

Lynda has been firing up her new industrial sewing machine and adding beautiful, supple leathers to her consequential fabrics and notions from every corner of the globe. Her one-of-a-kind creations become more personal and sophisticated every season.

Ron has recently returned from Indonesia with fabulous new textiles of his own design. (I adore the hand painted stripes!) He has also imported some beautiful rugs from Nepal, as well as home accessories that will make you smile.

Please join us as we celebrate the season together!

  • Paula Rath
November 19th, 2018 / posted by paularath

Producer Jim Burke answers questions from the crowd after the showing of his film “Green Book.”

Saturday afternoon Jerry and I had the great pleasure of seeing a film at the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) that outshone every other film we have seen in the past few years: “Green Book.”

Although the showing had a rough start – we had to wait for about 45 minutes for the projectionist to cue it up – even that experience contributed to the film, as one of the producers, Jim Burke, was there and graced us with an enlightening commentary about how the film came about, how star Viggo Mortensen gained about 50 pounds (“He ate and ate and ate…”) and as many insights as he could, without crossing into the realm of spoiler alert.

The comedy-drama benefits tremendously from the remarkable chemistry between the two stars: Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. I found Linda Cartellini’s performance as Mortensen’s wife to be spot-on as well.

“Green Book” is the true story of a real friendship that grew in 1962 and lasted a lifetime. It’s about an eight-week concert tour in the Deep South, a road trip that actually happened and stands as a sometimes caustic reminder of the racial inequality in our nation. “Live inside it and see how it changes you,” Burke said.

Of course it’s always fun to see the early 60s again, with the fabulous cars and clothes. And, oh yeah, the sound track!

Mortensen plays an Italian American, Tony Vallelonga, a bouncer at the Copacabana, who is hired to drive – and protect – Jamaican-American classically trained concert pianist Don Shirley. Tony has a sixth-grade education, while Don has several PhDs.

I don’t want to spoil the film by giving away any secrets, but I would like to share a few of the comments Burke made during the Q&A:

  • “It’s a handicap that I’m white. In the process of this movie I only knew what I knew. I talked to Octavia Spencer (an Executive Producer) and she caught (all of us) when we went off the rails. She kept us on target.”
  • “We carefully navigated what might have become a white savior movie.”
  • The two characters “Had nothing in common, but Tony was hired to protect him,” and he could certainly do that.
  • “People say this is a perfect time to be making this movie, but, unfortunately, it’s always a perfect time.” But I would say it’s especially important now.

I am rooting for three Academy Award nominations for this film: Best Picture and two Best Actors. And maybe a fourth for Best Director, Peter Farrelly. It opens in Honolulu on Wednesday. Don’t miss it!

  • Paula Rath