Gearing Up for the Gala

It’s that time of year again. Here in Hawai‘i, formal functions are o~ cially in full swing, so get party-ready with help from the experts.

WITH PARTY SEASON UNDER WAY, getting ready for the next big affair doesn’t have to be daunting. Admittedly, special occasions often require a bit more preparation time, so we picked the brains of some of Hawai‘i’s style experts—in the realms of fashion, hair and more. We also get a few tips from beauty guru Kate Sommerville and personal trainer Bob Greene.


The good news for this upcoming gala season is that the laissez faire dress we’ve seen as of late on the street has spilled over to the ballroom. From Hollywood’s red carpets to the summer’s Met Gala—known as the fashion world’s Oscars—film and fashion luminaries showed up in an astonishing range that included classic ball gowns alongside mermaid dresses, baby-dolls and pantsuits.

However, in the real world of island living, being all-too-telling may have year-round consequences; so most people should stick with traditions that work. For women, that often means opting for a full-length ball gown in black or eye-catching jewel tones.

Trends are fun, but remember that some can be problematic. Fall 2010’s palette-cleansing winter whites will help you make an entrance, but also may curtail your fun when you find yourself avoiding wineglasses and colored foods, from chocolates to strawberries. It’ll also add pounds to paparazzi photos that will remain as evidence.

Stylist Amos Kotomori reminds us that comfort is crucial for avoiding fashion faux pas and wardrobe malfunctions. He further attests that it’s also wrong to adhere strictly to mainland trends.

“I see a lot of women wearing fur now, and that’s fine if you’re in New York or Paris. But we’re in Hawai‘i. We have our own style,” Kotomori shares, adding that many people underestimate the power of details, from accessories to the right underpinnings that can cinch and smooth lines.

An example: One might choose to be safe with a gown, but accessories allow room for play and showing off one’s playful personality. Perhaps you may choose a clutch that’s sleek and sophisticated, or playful, even vintage-inspired.

And, for any Hawai‘i event, Kotomori adds you’ll never go wrong wearing fresh flowers.

For men, he recommends sticking with shades of gray and black. If it’s not a blackor white-tie event that calls for a tuxedo, fitted black jeans will work with a jewel-tone shirt. And, if you’re a fan of the head-to-toe black monochromatic look, take advantage of the fact that it makes a great backdrop for showing off jewelry.


Don’t be afraid to ditch the updo for formal occasions. “Just look at the Hollywood red carpet, a lot of celebrities are wearing their hair down,” says Joe Randazzo, co-owner of J Salon.

Key to wearing one’s hair down is to have a magic combination of flow, texture and finish that starts with a precise cut, complemented by the right products for one’s hair type, from shampoo to fixers. “Your hair still needs to be done,” he adds.

If it seems easier to hide your hair with an updo, Randazzo said to make sure it looks modern, with less severity than the standard Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s style.

“The typical French twist with the high crown looks dated. There are some people who can pull that look off,” says Randazzo, who has seen too many shellacked helmet heads to offer his approval.

The new updo is polished, with a tousled, unfussy vibe that makes it look fresh and modern. Start with a low side part, pulling hair into a loose bun on the side, and top it off with an accessory. Or simply pull it back into a loose, low chignon in the back.

For men, the look is polished and well-groomed. Start with a good haircut, and resist trying to dress it up with gel.

“Guys really need to move away from styling gel because it makes them look bald,” says Randazzo. “It stiffens each hair so you can see their scalp. The right cut can make it look like you have 10 times more hair.”

To get a polished Mad Men look, he recommends applying Extreme Urushi by Shu Uemura to damp hair, slicking it back with a low side part. Let it dry naturally.


When it comes to jewelry, opulence is in, so don’t be afraid to go bold with chandelier earrings, necklaces that might double as armor and large-jeweled bangles.

There is no doubt that summer’s Diamond Jubilee, marking the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne of England, had its impact on the regal

(and retro) air of fall’s jewelry designs. With a strong lean toward warm-toned metals like gold, bronze and rose gold, this season is teeming with vintage appeal.

With color running strong in fashion, gemstones are popular in every hue, from deep purple amethyst to royal blue sapphire, ruby reds, carnelian orange and emerald greens. But the newest color for fall 2012 is no color at all. Recalling jewelry from your grandmother’s jewelry box, chunky Lucite and clear crystal necklaces add evening sparkle to any look, with the sexiness of bare skin beneath.

Nature also provides inspiration, through the presence of turquoise, coral, leaf and flower motifs, feathers and pearls.

Cartier has even reinterpreted its Trinity design with the introduction of the Trinity Pearls Collection, uniting the three rings with pearls that cascade or punctuate tassels and necklaces, as well as blooming into petals on a ring.


Although long-term lifestyle changes are preferable to the quick fix, simply following the sleep and nutrition advice offered in Bob Greene’s “20 Years Younger” regimen will go a long way.

A personal trainer whose best-known client is Oprah Winfrey, Greene is one of the few fitness experts who preaches quality sleep as a part of a wellness regimen.

“Most of us are sleep-deprived and we don’t take the steps to protect our sleep. More people are concerned with how much they can squeeze into a day,” he says, noting less than seven hours per day disallows the body to repair itself, not to mention accelerating the risk of disease.

If you’re not already watching your diet, start replacing sugar and meaty meals with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fish.

Greene is big on “super foods” like acai, blueberries, blackberries, pomegranates and grapes, each rich with anti-imflammatory, antioxidant polyphenols and phytonutrients.

Breakfast might feature a banana smoothie and multigrain crisp bread; lunch a goat cheese, tomato and arugula sandwich with whole-grain bread; and dinner a serving of vegetarian chili with kale and polenta.


Hollywood’s “Guru of Glow” Kate Somerville knows that regular maintenance goes a long way in keeping skin healthy. She recommends regular facials not only for beauty reasons, but to keep tabs on changes in your skin health.

Since most are not diligent about skincare until weeks before a special event, she shares that it’s a mistake go overboard with emergency fixes.

“Never have a new procedure or treatment, or begin using a new product, right before a big occasion,” she says. “You don’t know how your skin is going to react.

“A red, irritated face or even an outbreak of hives is not the look you’re going for.”

She recommends testing a new product three to four weeks before an important date.

One product worth trying is her new Dermal Quench Liquid Lift ($95), a home-use version of her most popular spa treatment, which is available at The Spa at Trump Waikiki.

“My celebrity clients particularly love the Dermal Quench Oxygen Therapy, especially those who are about to hit red-carpet events. It ups the hydration level in their skin, keeping it supple, hydrated, smooth and dewy.”

For herself, she might also apply an egg-white mask to her face before a photo shoot, for tightening and firming her complexion.

Her advice is the same for men, noting, “The skin structure is exactly the same [whether male or female].”

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