May 30th, 2011 / posted by paularath

A ring by Bliss Lau modeled by Bliss Lau

 Designer Bliss Lau, a Punahou grad who went on to Parsons and has been living in New York City ever since, is a designer in the truest sense.

She’s outrageously creative.  Everything she does is original and artistic, never predictable or ho-hum. A true innovator, many of her design ideas are far outside the realm of anything that’s been done before. Do you know how rare that is? Most prognosticators say there is never anything new in fashion, it’s just recycled from a previous time. That simply is not true of BLiss Lau’s work.

I first met Bliss in a painting class in George Woollard’s studio when she was still a student at Parsons. I thought she was a painter because her painting was so beautiful.

From her first assignments at Parsons “I knew accessories were for me. I had to be an accessories designer,” Bliss explained in a panel presentation at Waikiki Edition put on by Hifi and Hawaii RED Magazine yesterday. I was also on the panel, along with Jessica O’Neill and Jennifer Kem. We had such a great time with an appreciative audience. The energy was contagious.

Bliss talked about her progression as a designer, which began with handbags then moved on to body jewelry. You can see her “Embraced” collection of body jewelry tonight (Sunday) from 6 to 8 p.m. (see below for details). It will be presented on local ballerinas rather than traditional models.

Bliss describes Embraced as “A study in transparency, motion, ballet and the use of leather as a pencil to draw lines on the body.” Here’s an example:

Body jewelry on a ballerina.

Bliss employs her skills as a fashion designer by draping these innovative pieces on the body. She uses her handbag expertise in cutting and weaving leather to create a Roman-inspired skirt, contoured jackets, shawls, and even jumpers. Here’s how Bliss wore one of her jackets yesterday. It’s a little hard to see because it’s black on black but you can get the idea of how “Embraced” actually drapes and embraces the body.

The back of the jacket, from the "Embraced" collection.

The jacket from the front.


The "collar" is as elegant in the back as it is in the front.

So what’s next for Bliss Lau? In addition to the brass chain and leather body jewelry, which is catching on with fashion magazines (Italian Vogue just requested some pieces for a photo shoot) and being sent to numerous celebrities, she is now creating fine jewelry.

As always, a lot of thought and a studied, philosophical approach are behind her jewelry collection. “It (jewelry) has a lot to do with sensuality, reminding a woman of her sensuality,” Bliss explained to our audience.

She calls the line “Mysterious Concealment” because it has tiny diamonds that offer a mysterious little glimmer but are concealed in a space facing the woman’s body, rather than facing the person she is with. It’s more for her own benefit than for anyone else. Unlike her brass and leather chains and strips, which are worn over the body, her jewelry is intimate, sensual, worn close to the skin.

After seeing Bliss’ innovative nail art, we all decided she should contact Deborah Lippmann to collaborate with her on original nail designs. Why not? Her designs are elegant and sophisticated, unlike most of the frou-frou nail designs seen elsewhere.

Cost for tonight’s event is $10. Presale tickets:

Today I had a wonderful experience, taping a 40-minute segment for National Public Radio’s “StoryCorps.” My focus was the story of my paternal granparents, James Arthur Rath and Ragna Helsher Rath, the founders of Palama Settlement.

I talked about the origins of Palama Settlement and the intrepid approach Nana and Grandfather took to their duties as Head Workers of the Settlement from 1905 to 1929. The tape will live in the Library of Congress and will leave a legacy of the Settlement there.

This year marks the centennial of the incorporation of Palama Settlement and I am chairing the various aspects and events surrounding the celebration. More about that later, as we draw closer to the November 20 event. I hope you will have a chance to participate in some way with our Centennial.

If you know someone who has benefitted from the services of Palama Settlement, please have them get in touch with me. I am collecting quotes for the “100 Voices” part of the event.

– Paula Rath

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