July 24th, 2018 / posted by paularath

My fave from Mao Mam


Meet one of my go-to dresses for the season. It’s by Mao Mam, and I get endless compliments on it wherever I wear it.

One day I was walking through the airport on my way to visit my dear friend Cheryl on Maui and I ran into uber interior designer Marion Philpotts,, one of Honolulu’s most chic women. She loved this dress and wanted to know where to find it.

Mona Lisa tunic from Tapestries Studio.

Well, it’s not all that easy to score a Mao Mam piece. You can find it online at www.Tapestries-Studio.com, but if you prefer to touch the fabric and try on for size, you have to go to a trunk show.

Hey, this coming weekend you’re in luck. There’s a Tapestries Studio trunk show from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, July 27, and the same time Saturday, July 28. Look for it at boutique AllisonIzu/Ten Tomorrow, at 1114 11th Avenue in Kaimuki.

It’s a nice opportunity to say hi to Lori, former owner of Tapestries in Ala Moana, and Chie, creator of Mao Mam, Mona Lisa and You-Be.

Hope to see you there!

-Paula Rath

July 23rd, 2018 / posted by paularath

Cookie finds a treat

A few months ago, our “last cat,” EleEle, passed away. After living with pet cats for more than 30 years, we committed to being cat-less. It makes our travel plans much more flexible.

But I gotta say, it’s been really hard.

EleEle, and Scrimshaw before her, have been my constant companions.

Scrimshaw, our beloved cat of 21 years, always became quiet and serene at the vet’s.

Scrimmy lived until he was 21 years old, and he seldom left my side. He followed me from room to room and climbed on my lap every chance he could get. His purr could be heard across the room, and he loved to talk. He honestly seemed to be responding as I chatted with him while cooking, painting or sewing.

Once Scrimmy was silenced, so was I. The house became very quiet whenever Jerry was out and about.

Until Cookie came along.

Cookie is my “pet” gecko. I first met her when she crept up under my cookie cooling rack and started gobbling up the cookie crumbs. She’s one of the pretty geckos with the red spots on a green body. She’s put on a little weight since we met, which only makes her more adorable. She has become very social, and the sound of my voice causes her to pause and listen intently. She mostly lives behind a framed print near our kitchen windows, but comes out to visit whenever I’m cooking.

Now Cookie has a family, ‘Cado and Crax. They are far more shy, and they’re not good listeners. But oh how they love their avocado and their crackers!

Cheeky Cointreau will go to great depths for his fix – even diving to the bottom of a cocktail glass!

Cointreau’s cousin samples vodka, which was not a winner.

Jerry really was the first in the family to befriend a gecko. Cointreau the Gecko, who is ancient in gecko years, crawled up onto a Cointreau bottle one evening years ago and started licking…and licking…and licking…until the bottle cap was clean! Now a whole family of geckos comes out at cocktail hour to see what Jerry might be offering for their Happy Hour. He has tried lots of different liquors, but Cointreau, Fireball and Grand Marnier are by far the most popular.

Cointreau toddles off after a good lick of Fireball.

Jerry has long conversations with Cointreau, who is usually quite attentive, though the attention span lessens as he imbibes.

Do spiders make good pets?

We recently ran into (literally), this beautiful spider, who seems to appreciate guitar. But all she was interested in was weaving back and forth between the guitar and the desk. Not a social creature at all. Do spiders have the potential to be house pets? Shall we name her Charlotte?

Spiders, and their webs, are among the joys of living in the rain forest!

-Paula Rath


July 22nd, 2018 / posted by paularath

Left: Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, with Ben Foster Photo: Scott Green/Bleecker Street

Summer is generally a pretty bleak time, movie-wise. The screens are over populated with super heroes, violence, ridiculous creatures and screeching cars, planes, motorcycles and voices.

But right now, in the midst of this movie morass, there is a quiet little film that stole my heart: “Leave No Trace, the lyrical indie film by writer/director Debra Granik, who won an Academy Award for “Winter’s Bone.

I can’t think of a more chaotic time for our nation than the summer of 2018. Of course I remember the summer of 1968, but that was a very different kind of chaos, sparked by passion and commitment. So it is with gratitude and joy that I spent a few hours in the magical Pacific Northwest forest of “Leave No Trace”with two people I came to care about immediately. The world which this loving father and daughter inhabit seems to make so much sense right now. Their forest is serene and tranquil. It’s a picture of peace and I wanted to be there with them.

Of course, it makes all the difference that the lead actors are absolutely superb. The father, Will, is played by Ben Foster and the daughter, Tom, is the transcendent Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie.

Granik’s “Winter Bone” was a breakout film for Jennifer Lawrence. I think – and hope – that “Leave No Trace” will be a breakout film for Thomasin.

Give yourself a break from the insanity we are forced to endure and go see this movie. You’ll be leaving Washington, DC, far behind you. It’s playing at the Consolidated Kahala Theatre.

-Paula Rath


July 14th, 2018 / posted by paularath

Leah lands in the City –  NYC

L.A. designer Leah Redmond, creator of GORDON, a fresh new collection based on palaka, did not take a straight path to fashion design. She says she was just a little too local and low key for a career that usually requires a lot of time in the spotlight.

“I always felt like if you stood out, you were picked on,” Leah recalls of her small kid time in Honolulu. “You didn’t want to stand out. The most subversive thing I did was wear covered shoes. I was so painfully self conscious I ended up veering toward more subversive fashion like Japanese designers – not overtly sexy fashions. Love of fashion was there (in me) but I didn’t dress to stand out.”

So how does a painfully shy girl growing up in the casual atmosphere of Honolulu end up designing her own line in L.A.? Well, for Leah, life took lots of twists and turns, and she was willing to go along for the ride.

You know, sometimes fashion just happens to you, and it takes courage and creativity to hold on to it and let it take you where it – and you – need to go.

Leah’s first trip to Paris in 1998

After graduating from Punahou, Leah didn’t have a clear plan or path. She chose U.H. – Manoa and majored in French because she wanted to “get through college quickly” so she could travel. And travel she did. She studied for a summer in Annecy, France, where she found that “Speaking French to French people was scary.”

Rather than returning to finish her studies at U.H., she stayed in France, in the Loire Valley, and graduated abroad. She then joined an au pair agency on the Swiss border and “That’s where I really learned French. The three kids taught me.”

From France she moved to London, where she worked for nine months for Angela Stone, a wedding gown designer, in Parsons Green. “I was an intern and all-hands girl,” Leah explained. “The first day I remember she had me cut out a pattern in silk charmeuse. I had no formal training and I must have been horrible.”

Leah did have a little experience working in the costume shop at Kennedy Theatre at U.H.-Manoa, but there wasn’t a lot of silk involved there, and “I had never made a garment from start to finish.” While working on wedding gowns, she discovered a knack for beading. “I had a light touch, so I discovered hand sewing,” she explained.

Leah’s first sewing experience came at U.H. Manoa’s Kennedy Theatre.

Following her time in France, Leah returned to Hawaii “To make a little money” to enable her to move to NYC. “You’re too young to know you can’t,” she said with a chuckle. “As shy as I was, I knew I wanted to work with costumes. I loved clothes. The reason I got into costumes, it felt safer and less committal. I was still working with clothes, but not having to stand out or have a personal point of view. I always wanted to do fashion but didn’t have the confidence.”

On arrival in NYC, Leah simply picked up a Time Out magazine and perused a list of theatres. “I picked the first eight and sent my resume to those eight and one theatre responded immediately that they needed a wardrobe supervisor for a new play, “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told.” It was the Off Broadway Theatre Workshop and Leah worked there until 2000.

Leah’s first Off-Broadway play, where she worked as Wardrobe Supervisor.

The next play Leah worked on was “Dirty Blonde.” “It went to Broadway and I went with it,” she said. She worked in theatre for 17 years, until 2014. The job demands total dedication. There are eight performances a week. The Wardrobe Supervisor must maintain all the costumes for the cast. There are alterations to work on all day and you need to be on hand throughout the show in case of mishaps that can happen on the stage.

About the time she was working on “Aida,” Leah decided it was time to get some formal training in fashion, so she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology from 2000-2001. Through FIT she was given an opportunity to intern with Alexandre Plokhov, designer of Cloak. In this atelier she was exposed to Plokhov’s exacting tailoring techniques and “His minimalist, perfectionist details and fabrics,” Leah explained.

Leah was fortunate to be working with Cloak in 2004, when they won the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Foundation Fund Award, which is one of fashion’s pinnacles. Cloak won along side Thom Browne and Proenza Schouler. (Forgive me for name dropping, but hey!)

The creatives at Cloak. That’s uber designer Alexandre Plokhov in the center.

Leah met actress Debra Messing on Broadway and “We got along really well and she asked me if I wanted to be her dresser on her TV show, ‘The Mysteries of Laura.’ I loved it but it burned me out working more than 70 hours a week. I longed for warmth and consistency and a slower pace. If I’m going to put 75 hours a week into a project, I want it to be my project.”

The crazy hours and insane pace of her career were not what finally drove Leah to go west. It was the feeling that “I hit saturation level in New York City. When you stop enjoying your city, and wanting to explore it, it’s time to go.” L.A. was calling, and she moved west in 2016.

Leah gets a hug from actress Debra Messing.

Leah made her first palaka dress in 2015 and friends loved it. “They said ‘You should start a business with that dress,’ and I did,” she explained.

If you missed it, check out my previous blog about GORDON, Leah’s fab new line of palaka dresses.


For the moment, the only place you can buy GORDON is at www.shopgordon.co

-Paula Rath



July 5th, 2018 / posted by paularath

A navy GORDON mini by Leah Redmond      Photo by Elisa Chang

When my son, Duncan Graham, was a student at Punahou, he had a close cadre of friends who were artists of one sort or another: film makers, writers, photographers, musicians, actors, you get the picture. In the group was Leah Redmond, a young woman with a lot of style. I always enjoyed checking out what she was wearing and how she put it all together. And I wondered if she would choose fashion as a career.

I lost touch with Leah, although I had heard she was in New York City, working as a dresser in the theater. (More about her fascinating career path in my next blog.)

Now Leah has given up the glam and glitter of Broadway and is living in Los Angeles. And, happily, she has introduced her first fashion line, called GORDON.

Photo by Elisa Chang

GORDON is clearly a nod to Leah’s small kid time in Hawaii. The line is 100 percent palaka! She has, in essence, modernized palaka for today’s woman.

Inspired by the silhouettes of the ’60s, GORDON dresses resonate with me. And, of course, remind me of my designing days when I did a line of palaka shorts, tops, dresses and muumuus.

The introductory line is all about simple, easy to wear, go-to palaka dresses. It’s minimalism personified, largely inspired by Leah’s passion for Japanese designers. (Think Yohi Yamamoto and Comme des Garcons.) There’s a common thread here, as palaka in Hawaii was originally worn largely by Japanese workers in the sugar and pineapple fields, and it was popularized by the Arakawas, a local Japanese family.


GORDON dresses are perfect for Hawaii weather.        Photo by Elisa Chang


GORDON dresses accessorize beautifully and can be worn many different ways. I ordered a GORDON mini in black and red palaka and sometimes wear it with ballet flats and a fedora with my father’s feather lei. Or with a pair of strappy sandals and an armful of chunky bracelets. Or with capri-length leggings and red lace-ups. It’s so versatile!

As a designer, I appreciate all the work and attention to detail Leah employs. Seams are bound. Plaids are matched. Pockets are palaka lined. Sleeves are engineered so that when you roll them up, they stay. She’s such a perfectionist!


Designer Leah Redmond with a rack of GORDON dresses with contrasting white yokes. Photo by Carrie Gifford


Each GORDON dress is made to order. “GORDON’s objective is to limit quantities and promote minimalism, allowing customers to invest in a few multifunctional pieces that can be worn in many different ways, rather than consume fast fashion by mass manufacturers,” Leah explains.


GORDON dresses come in navy, red, black and gray palaka, all one shade or a combination. Photo by Simone White


You are probably wondering how GORDON got its name. Leah explained that “Gordon” is British slang for “nerd” or “awkward” and “I love the symmetry of the name visually.”

Find GORDON dresses, and a way to order them, at www.shopgordon.co

-Paula Rath