New York Fashion Week Collection
The Ehukaimaikaikane collection represents and is dedicated to my husband, Jairah-Owin Ah-Ping Ehukaimaikaikane Chun-Lai.
Ehukaimaikaikane is his middle name in Hawaiian which translates to "man of the red sea spray or the strong sea spray from the red sea".
Told by his mom, he got the meaning of his name by the experiences she had while pregnant with him. At eight months pregnant her cravings were unique as she always wanted fresh manini fish and her uncle would always grant her request. He would take her on daily walks in a town called Kapuna on the island of Maui. It was a rocky area but its river mouth came from Waihe'e Valley (where my husband was born and raised - on Maui). At the river mouth there was an old bomb shelter that the army would use back in the day. His mom would sit on the rocks while her uncle would throw net into the river to catch the fish and she would climb that bomb shelter to watch where the school of fish were to tell him where and when to throw the net. Hearing the waves crashing and feeling its sea sprays against her face was the feeling she enjoyed experiencing the most. When the rivers became rough from the rains and storms in the mountains, looking off from the cliffs she would see the red opae (or shrimp) glisten from the sun where it made the waters look red.
These experiences she had is how he got his middle name and the meaning behind it. And what is neat is my husband is all those things, a true local man who loves the water, rivers, seafood in general and just everything about it truly represents him. This is what I am hoping to depict in the new designs. This print depicts the river of Waihe'e Valley located in Maui where his Mom grew up and where she would spend her days pregnant with him experiencing things that led up to his name. It shows the valleys, river, rocks, waters and the red opae (shrimp) in the river waters.
The Anthurium print is dedicated to my parents, Darren and Sonya Ah Chong. The anthurium was their wedding flower, for decoration, centerpieces, and bouquets. It was the theme of their wedding. To me when I look back at their wedding video and photos, I see love, I see passion, I see partnership, friendship, and I see a lifetime. To me, this is what the anthurium flower, coincidentally shaped into a heart, represents. Growing up, my parents have always been the two most important people in my life and they are the ones that have shaped me into the woman that I am today. I always took notice of how their relationship as husband and wife were. It was a love that I wanted to find for myself one day. The love they have for one another is truly inspiring.
The Maile Lei in the Hawaiian culture is a symbol of love, respect, blessing, and friendship. The Maile Lei is usually gifted to a person in honor of congratulations or of thanks and gratitude. This design depicts the Maile Lei as a mahalo to the entire Ola Hou Designs team that was a part of the Journey to New York Fashion Week. To mahalo each and every team member, business, and sponsor that made the experience such a wonderful success.
The Lauhala Pāpale print was also a dedication to the Ola Hou Designs team that was a part of the Journey to New York Fashion Week. “Lau” means leaf in Hawaiian, while “hala” is the name of the tree that produces long, flat leaves ideal for weaving. When the two words are combined, it refers to the method of weaving leaves from the hala tree. When putting together this entire show, my family, models, hula dancers, entertainers, model coordinators, Kumu, film and photography crew, seamstresses, hair and makeup team, all came together as one. Woven as one, and becoming a true ‘ohana. We have a bond that we will forever be woven together as just as a Lauhala pāpale.
My Grandfather, who we call Dedo (which means Grandfather is Macedonian) was the smartest, kindest, hard working man I knew with the warmest heart and the greatest jokes. He was a master storyteller and linguist, known for his big heart, hospitality and cross-cultural expertise. He supported me when I first started Ola Hou Designs and inspired me to design and create, just as he did with his woodworking talents. He was a very artistic and creative man and I always loved sharing my ideas with him before producing a collection. Dedo loved to fly, he was a pilot and in fact had his own small airplane that he would fly just for fun. He jokingly shared with us that one day when he passed away, that we’d see him in the sky. The day he passed away, a large Pueo (owl) flew around our balcony, just gliding by slowly, and at that moment, we knew it was him.
The Hawaiian Quilt print was designed and dedicated to my paternal Grandmother, Bernadette Ah Chong. My Grandma has always been a homebody, taking care of kids, grandkids, the pets, and all things around the home. She is the one that truly brings our family together. I felt that the Hawaiian Quilt best describes her as the woman she is. Not only is she always cold and needing warmth, but she is the warmth of our family. In this print, I have designed different native Hawaiian plants here in Hawaii, that make up the square of each print. All different, but connected as one Hawaiian Quilt. To show each individual of our family, all connected to the one that made us who we are, my Grandma.
She is my last living Grandparent here on earth and I knew that I wanted to be able to represent her during New York Fashion week on the bright lights of the runway. When I first received the invitation for Runway 7 Fashion to be a designer in NYFW, she told me, “I am here, I am alive for this, and I want to be there to see you love what you do Sharayah.” That meant everything to me. To have her travel all that way, sitting in the front row watching the show was a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.