January 12th, 2022 / posted by paularath

This Banana Republic jumpsuit was a gift from my son, Duncan Scott Graham.

Sometimes the story behind a garment is even more precious than the garment itself. That was the case when my 11-year-old son, Duncan Scott Graham, gave me this fabulous jumpsuit for my 40th birthday.

Yes, it is a great jumpsuit, and I am still wearing it 35 years later. And, yes, he bought it with his own money, money that he had earned shooting a TV commercial for HMSA. And, yes, it came from my favorite shop at the time, the original family-owned Banana Republic. (You may remember their Honolulu store pre-GAP corporate purchase; it looked like a little hut in a Banana Republic, with a thatched roof and “family photos.” It was located right here in Ala Moana Center.) The shop appealed to Duncan because he knew he was “made in Lagos, Nigeria,” which he envisioned as a banana republic.

It gets better. A few days after my birthday (another great story, thanks to my fiance at the time, Jerry Mayfield), I received a phone call from a saleswoman at Banana Republic. She was anxious to tell me the story of Duncan shopping for the jumpsuit.

She reported that he came in with a mission, and he was very serious and studious in his approach. He wanted to find exactly the right gift for his mother. He explained that his mother has very particular tastes, but he understood what she liked and he would know it when he saw it. He also explained that he had his own money, and would she accept cash?

She said she followed him all around the shop as he nodded at some garments and asked for them to be put aside. He spent more than an hour making a decision: The khaki jumpsuit it was!

He then said he needed to find a belt to go with it. The saleswoman moved toward the belts, and he said, almost sternly, “No, I don’t need help with that. I know what will work for her.” He chose an asymmetrical dark brown leather belt, explaining that his mother always liked things that were asymmetrical. He said she would like the faux ivory toggle, as long as it was faux ivory. (Sadly the belt hasn’t survived my closets, which are deep in our house in the rainforest.)

This was a visit that the saleswoman has probably never forgotten, and I deeply appreciate her taking the time and effort to share the story with me. Duncan has always understood his mother’s taste better than anyone. He has continued to give me treasured and tasteful gifts right up to the present.

But Duncan himself is the greatest gift of all.

For the story about the sandals, please stay tuned. I promise that blog will be coming tomorrow!

Paula Rath

December 18th, 2021 / posted by paularath



I don’t pretend to be a TV critic, but I am pretty picky about what I watch, and I adored “Sex and the City.” So when I heard that there was to be a sequel, called “And Just Like That,” I was a little skeptical.

The first 20 minutes were a bit agonizing, then it began to perk up. By the end of the second episode, I was hooked.

Michael Patrick King, who wrote “Sex and the City,” also wrote this show. In addition, King, along with Darren Star, are co-creators and executive producers, so they knew the characters well and aged them pretty gracefully into their mid-50s, SATC women 20 years later.

Miranda tries to extricate herself from an awkward conversation she created with her professor, Dr. Nya Wallace.       Photo by Craig Blankenhorn

Yes, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) are back! Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is not on screen, but she is there in spirit. She is living in London now.

Yes, they are all still living lives of privilege, and they are all still haoles, but the show is now more au courant, inclusive and (mostly) racially sensitive. However, sometimes the nods to social equity miss the mark and the diversity attempts feel forced. Gotta hope that will improve in the coming episodes.

There are some fabulous new characters in this show to expand the definition of friendship, and they are brilliantly cast. Dr. Nya Wallace (Karen Pittman) is a savvy academic who gets to put sassy law student Miranda in her place, ever so gently. And oh my, Che (Sara Ramirez) is hysterical and launches Carrie into the 21st century social media milieu in her sexy and sometimes shocking podcast.

The costumes are still head turners. Now they are more quirky than sexy, more age-appropriate, and always true to character. I love that subjects addressed in the scripts are true to women navigating their ’50s; they include graying hair, discomfort with sex talk, difficulty with highly sexually active teenage children, awkwardness with social media and other matters familiar to many.

I laughed and I cried through these episodes, and now I have a show to look forward to each week, as HBO MAX releases new episodes of “And Just Like That” on Thursdays.

Paula Rath


December 2nd, 2021 / posted by paularath


If you ever met the late Barb Rau, you probably found yourself captivated with her accessories. I certainly was! Barb was part of our Sunday morning indigo group, meeting at the indigo vat of artist Darius Homay. We had so much fun, and so many interesting conversations, over that magical vat!

I am deeply saddened by Barb’s recent passing. We have lost a multi-talented woman with unique and sophisticated style. She leaves behind a massive treasure trove of jewelry, clothing and art, as well as the DAC Downstairs Gallery. A hui of art lovers is saving the gallery – more about that later.

Well, this weekend you can have access to some of Barb’s amazing treasures, as her close lifetime friend, Lynda Sakraida (a multi-talented handbag designer and woman of taste herself) holds an exclusive sale of Barb’s jewelry. An act of aloha, all the proceeds of the sale will go to Barb’s partner, Shoji Ledward.

I highly recommend that you make an appointment asap. A few close friends of Lynda’s have already stopped by and found Barb’s treasures irresistible. (Me included.)

Lynda has priced these items, many of which are antiques that come from all over the world, at incredibly low prices. Imagine finding a cute girlfriend gift for $5!

So grab a few girlfriends (or guy friends if you’re doing some Christmas shopping for a person of taste) and carpool to the top of Tantalus.

Here’s just a small representation of what you will find there right now:



Please see all the necessary information in the flyer posted at the top of this blog. And that includes Barb’s collection of amber, below, which she loved.

Paula Rath

November 1st, 2021 / posted by paularath

It’s been several years since Jerry, Duncan and I first read the screenplay for “The Big Bend.” All of us were speechless after reading it, and the general consensus was simply: “Wow”! The screenplay, a family drama with some adventure and excitement, was so insightful and multi-layered that we felt we knew the characters already.

So we followed that “wow” with an offer to writer/director Brett Wagner: “You have to make this movie. How can we help?”

And that’s how we became executive producers of a movie that has been a source of pride every step of the way.

Meet actors Delilah Wagner (Fiona) and Nick Masciangelo (Carl) on the road in “The Big Bend.” Nick lives on the North Shore of Oahu and Delilah is Brett’s daughter.

The movie was filmed largely in a house in Terlingua, a ghost town in West Texas, and Big Bend National Park. The house belongs to Aaron Brown, producer of the movie. Most of the crew came from Austin.

We could not be there for the shooting because there is, literally, no place where we could stay. But Brett and the crew did a great job of sharing the day-to-day sheets that tracked everything, and everyone, working on the filming.

It was, to put it mildly, a challenging shoot. But, oh my! The resulting movie is simply magnificent!

We just came home from attending the World Premiere at the Austin Film Festival, where “The Big Bend” screened to rave reviews and had to have an extra screening added to accommodate the demand.

Brett briefs crew and cast at the house in Terlingua.

Next stop: HIFF, the Hawaii International Film Festival. We’re not sure what is driving the demand at this point, but HIFF has had to add a second screening on Saturday night at Kahala. That sold out in 24 hours and now they’re trying to find another time slot and theatre to show it a third time.

Brett discusses a scene with actor Jason Butler Harner, who you may recognize from “Ozark” or many other TV and movie roles.

If you don’t already have tickets, please watch social media for information about the third screening: @thebigbendmovie

Actor Erica Ash, who plays Georgia, and is facing the camera in this shot, will be staying with us while she is in Honolulu for HIFF!

The cinematography is gorgeous, shot by Paul Atkins of Hawaii Kai. He and Brett have done many projects together over the years, and he was the natural choice for “The Big Bend.”

We could not be more proud of this movie. We signed on to help with a low budget indie movie – and ended up with credits on a magnificent work of art.

We don’t know where “The Big Bend” will go after Honolulu. I will blog as soon as I know, so please stay tuned.

Paula Rath

August 31st, 2021 / posted by paularath

I have never paid much attention to FB ads that just pop up out of nowhere, but when I saw an ad for a western style long sleeve palaka shirt, I simply could not ignore it. I admired it and thought about it often. One might even say I lusted after it.

Yet it didn’t feel right to order something from a company I knew nothing about, even if they did seem to have got the island style just right.

One morning at brunch with Hifi co-founders Melissa May and Toby Portner, I mentioned this palaka shirt and Melissa perked up right away and said “Oh, Dale Hope is involved with that company.”

Well, okay then. I will follow, and support, anything that Dale Hope is involved with. He is, after all, the world’s expert on the aloha shirt, having written the quintessential book on the subject, called “The Aloha Shirt: Spirit of the Islands,” published by Patagonia. He is also a man of tremendous integrity, taste and true grit.

Photo by Jerry Mayfield

I ordered the shirt in navy, and it was love at first sight, followed by more love after wearing it. It’s comfortable, lighter weight than the original twill palaka. It’s got all the appropriate style details for combining a western style shirt with an iconic palaka print: it’s tailored for a woman’s curves, with shoulder yokes, plenty of snaps and pockets with flaps. Find it at http://www.westernaloha.com

What’s more, the label and packaging are engaging. They have the Western Aloha signature surfing pig with Mauna Kea in the background, and a motto to love: “Take it easy, but take it.” (Hope told me that this was a battle cry when he was paddling canoe from Molokai to Oahu.)

So how – and why – did Dale Hope come out of semi-retirement in Waimea on the Big Island to become the art director for Western Aloha? Through a meeting with the company’s founder, Paul Sullivan. Sullivan is a former NYC attorney who fell in love with the Big Island while on vacation. A serious canoe paddler, Hope said Sullivan “fell in love with Island life,” especially upcountry Big Island life.

Sullivan probed Hope with questions about the fashion industry in Hawaii. “I told him, ‘Don’t do it,'” Hope said with a chuckle. “It’s a tough business,” and even tougher on the Big Island. But Sullivan was ready for a new challenge, and, hey, he had Hope on his side.

I wore my Western Aloha palaka shirt to Blues Night at The Pacific Club, where Jerry and I were able to enjoy a few dances under the stars.
Photo courtesy Val Ito of The Pacific Club

They put together a team, which includes designer Janice Lucena, an experienced pattern maker and designer from San Francisco who worked for GAP. Hope introduced Sullivan to Big Island artist Mayumi Oda, who is creating original aloha prints for Western Aloha.

The fabric is a long story in itself, ending with a fabric source in Taiwan that makes a light weight polyester cotton that doesn’t require ironing. “The original palaka was practical for stevedores, paniolos and pineapple workers,” Hope said. “But in today’s world it’s all about comfort and easy care. You never need to iron (Western Aloha).”

The heavy butcher paper-style envelop the shirt arrived in is totally appropriate and fun.

What’s next for Western Aloha prints? Hope is working with the art of John Keoni Meigs, who created more than 300 textile designs from his studio in New Mexico from 1938-51. To see more of his work, which is currently on tour in the University Art Galleries at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, go to www.eusa.org

As for Hope, he said with characteristic enthusiasm, “We’re just having fun again and working with our friends.” That joy – and hope – are sewn into every Western Aloha garment.

Paula Rath