Couture for a Cause: The student behind the gown, Anna Kahalekulu

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Imua Family Services is privileged to partner with UH Maui’s Fashion Technology Program each year to show at #imuaball. Students work through the semester (and Spring Break) to create what has been termed “couture for a cause.” Anna Kahalekulu (Pictured on the left) is class president, an expecting mother (she has less than a month left!) and returns to Fantasia Ball for the second year in a row. We got to pick Anna’s brain on her life passion, fashion and on why she supports the keiki of Imua.

1.       What sparked your passion for fashion?
I’ve been passionate about what I wear since I could walk.  My mom still loves to share stories of how I used to throw the worst screaming fits as a two year old when I couldn’t wear what I wanted to – so she let me figure things out for myself, even when it meant freezing my buns off in forty degree weather in a skirt.  My love of clothing and steadfast opinion of what I want to wear has never waned.

2.       Is this your first year showing at Fantasia Ball? What do you look forward to?
This will be my second year showing at Fantasia Ball.  I am most looking forward to sharing the runway with 13 other talented designers.  We all have strong individual voices and tying us together with the black and white thread will create a such a great show.

3.       Why do you think it’s important to support our keiki?
I think our keiki are the most important thing of all.  They are our future and all of them, no matter the circumstances to which they are born into, deserve the best care, attention and love that nurtures them and shapes them into the precise image of what our future will be.

4.       Can you relate to not picking up on something as quickly as your peers? Can you explain?
Absolutely – it’s frustrating to not be able to pick up on something as quickly as your peers.  I remember sitting in high school Algebra with a blank mind totally not being able to grasp positives and negatives, feeling embarrassed because I didn’t understand.  Even as an adult it’s still something that I experience from time to time and it’s definitely humbling.

5.       Can you describe your design aesthetic?
My design aesthetic is very clean.  I love simple silhouettes that highlight the figure and showcase intricate design details.  I strive to keep comfort a priority while executing beautiful cuts and garment lines.

6.       3 wardrobe tips for our guests getting ready for Fantasia Ball 2014?
While there’s always room for black and white classics, don’t be afraid to mix it up:
– Combine black and white patterns for a truly unique look.
– Play with different fabric textures to add some visual interest and depth.
– Think about your mood – black and white can be either bold and graphic or soft and feminine.

7.       How many hours have you spent working on this look?
Let’s just say that the hours I’ve spent pale in comparison to the hours I will spend 😉

8.       When you graduate where do you see yourself?
I see myself continuing to expand my sewing business and putting together my first ready to wear collection for retail distribution.  I also want to contribute to the community in our island home of Maui by focusing on the resources and infrastructure that other young designers need to pursue a career in fashion without having to leave home.

9.       How can fashion make a difference in today’s world?
Our world would be boring without fashion!!  The world around us is increasingly visual and one of the first ways you are able to communicate who you are and what you’re about is through your wardrobe choice.  In this way, fashion can definitely empowers us as individuals.
But, further, the fashion industry encompasses a global community that includes humans of all walks of life with their own dreams and aspirations.  In emerging economies where a lot of the factory labor is executed, these people often work in extremely rough conditions.  As designers and even as consumers of fashion, we have the power to help their cause through the companies we choose to support.

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