April 28th, 2011 / posted by paularath

It’s particularly hard being a U.H.-Manoa senior in the Apparel Design and Mechandising Department (APDM) this year. The competition for an audience has been fierce. Honolulu Community College (HCC) pulled out all the stops as Andy South, who teaches the fashion production class, invited four of his Project Runway Season 8 friends to join him on the students’ stage. Even Governor Abercrombie and his wife, Nancie Caraway, sat in the front row at the HCC show. They declined attendance at the U.H. show, the students told me with chagrin.

It’s a shame, really, because there’s a lot of talent in the 2011 senior class. I met with them and they walked me through one of their projects, Re/Denim.

The assignment was to take a pair (or a pile) of jeans that were seconds from Allison Izu’s first petite denim line and to repurpose them. I remember Allison telling me she was having a lot of trouble with her manufacturers, who couldn’t get the jeans perfect during the creation of her first collection.  How nice to know that they were given new life!

Each year the students create their own collections as well as completing three project assignments, sort of like Project Runway challenges. In addition to Re/Denim, there were two other categories assigned: One is called “Androgyny” and involves creating an outfit that could be worn by a man or woman; the other: “Nightmares,” is inspired by something that terrifies the student designer. It allows for an avant-garde, anything goes approach to fashion, something every student enjoys. I look forward to seeing this wearable art. Inbar Maor, for example, said she tore up stuffed animals to create her “Nightmare.”

Here’s what the seven senior students created with the jeans, just to give you an idea of how they think and design.

The back of Joelle's dress has a deep, sexy scoop.


Joelle’s inspiration was a ’60s mod dress. She began by stripping the denim of color and creating panels from the legs of the jeans. It’s a little hard to see in the photograph, but the dress has dozens of panels that are patched together and top-stitched. The sleeves were originally pant legs. She added the fish scales as a surface embellishment to tie the dress in with her collection. She also created matching fish scale earrings.

Her collection, called Beleza, which means “beauty” in Portugese, consists of  six pieces.

Jaclyn Santos is inspired by her semester in Florence, Italy.



It took a lot of bleach and dye and handwork to get those jeans to look like this. Jaclyn started with a spray bottle of bleach but she felt it didn’t transform the denim enough. So she tossed them in the washing machine with yellow dye. Each shape was painstakingly hand cut as she selected exactly which piece she wanted placed in each spot to create a gradation of color. On the right side of the deceptively simple looking sheath she turned the shapes into flaps that conceal a zide zipper.

Her collection, “Coal,” consists of nine pieces. It was inspired by European street blogs and an urban aesthetic.

Each patchworked piece is shaped like the back pocket of a pair of jeans.


“I hate denim. I don’t wear it,” Des-Brisay said emphatically. “It’s overused, overdone.” His line, he said, is all about shapes and hard lines. He wanted to use the jeans pokets but found they were too small so instead he began with the shape of a jeans pocket and created patchwork pieces in that shape to fashion this chic, shapely little blue dress.

Des-Brisay’s collection, “Dystopia Now,” consists of five pieces.

Pyle ripped apart the denim thread by thread to get this wooly effect.



Misha also hates denim, “So I wanted to get rid of it,” she said with a laugh. She cut the jeans into pieces then ripped them apart thread by thread. She then bleached the threads. Bleach didn’t make it light enough for her vision so she rubbed bottles full of Comet cleanser into the fabric to make it off-white.  She gathered the thread to create rows. The whole class said “You should have seen her hands! She ruined them!” To create the multi-hued patchworked shorts she took the white denim and used Rit dye in colors that coordinated with the colorway of her collection.

Detail of Misha's patchwork shorts.

Misha’s collection is called “Alpine High Tea” and consists of six pieces.

Samantha plans to move back to Boston and open a wedding boutique.



When Samantha saw how small the petite jeans were, she felt immediately drawn to the idea of patchwork. “It’s more about the shapes,” she explained. She used exposed metal zippers in her collection, so it felt like a natural to use them at the neckline and hem of her repurposed denim dress.

Her collection, called Samantha Ann, consists of five pieces.

Tori Nyberg favors upholstery fabrics in her collection.

Tory Nyberg  chose to make her repurposed denim project “Fit right into my collection. It has the same sheer asymmetrical Peter Pan collar as two of my other outfits. I used mostly navy and neutrals thoughout my collection,” she explained. The princess seamed shift is all strips of patchwork.
Tory’s collection, “Trouvaille,” which means “a fortunate find,” consists of five pieces.

A fashion sketch of Inbar Maor's repurposed denim outfit.

Designer Inbar Maor

Sadly, Inbar forgot to bring her repurposed project to school on Tuesday. She will send me her photo as soon as she can. NOTE: It just came in (Thursday) so check out the final product below. She said she followed her sketch exactly, creating a bustier and skirt with an architectural shape. She described the two-tiered skirt as looking like Chinese roof tiles.  The waistband is braided, a tie-in to her collection, which has some braided element in each piece. After she sewed the garments she went over the seams with a bleach pen to “paint” each seamline.
Inbar’s collection, “Powers of Three,” consists of five pieces.

Bustier and tiered skirt by Inbar Maor

There are still a few tickets left for the Sunday, May 1 shows of  “Paradox.” There are two shows, Paradox Blanc at noon (doors open at 11:30 a.m.) and Paradox Noir at 4 p.m. (doors open at 3:30 p.m.) at the East-West Center, 1601 East-West Road.
Parking at U.H. is plentiful and free on Sundays. Tickets are $25 and are available at Papa Luck’s cafe on the UH campus (between the Art Building and Miller Hall) and at the UH Campus Center ticket office.
– Paula Rath

Misha Pyle's "Nightmare" avant-garde piece.

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Jerry Mayfield
April 28th, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Good to see UH students also showcased for their work. Excellent photos.


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