Like a precious scarce bloom in the arid wasteland of fashion mediocrity, the haute folks—the style friends, the happy-core kids—are few and far between. Fashion is sneered upon as pure vanity and a superfluous surplus of ego, the fodder of the petty bourgeois.
Not so, I declare!
Style is your best friend. Do not turn frumpy because the world is in upheaval! Frump kills, frump is dangerous; more dangerous than you know. It'll shrivel your soul and harden your heart, it will smoosh your spirit and it will only attract more frump, more like-minded dark frumpy energies that feed on the age-old slogan, "Frumpery loves company."
Slathered in sad hues of putrid puce, fetid olives and omnipresent muddy ochers, stale cowardice mixed with unwashed froideur create a Sartre-esque hell. There is innate evil in frump.
Warm waves of salty ocean licked my knees as I waded into the infinite electric aqua waters of Lanikai. My husband was born in the most spectacularly verdant valley on the island of Oahu, and "unreal" is an apt description. Waterfalls and mountains of bright limey green and glowing emerald kiss your retinas, triple rainbows greet you in a psychedelic splendor and the doves coo in their honeyed soft song. The rich scent of deep fecund earth and sweet bubblegum is everywhere. The sugary essence comes from the tropical blossoms dripping and spilling their perfume into every subatomic particle you inhale. Mist hugs the mountain peaks. "No Exit" indeed from the love and light of Mama Nature.
I was overwhelmed with a sense of "I have found the happy!" The people who live here, as well as the visitors, reflect this energy. They exude giddy joie de vivre and absolute fun. The latest crazes, the wildest trends—all embraced with effervescent glee. Sartre would put down the cigarette and absinthe to dance naked under the bright moonbows without a care for the "Other."
This is why we are here.
Honolulu is a virtual ube (ultraviolet-colored sweet potato) ice cream sundae of chic and cutie-patootie delights. High-end couture (Chanel and Balenciaga, et al) to radical street-surf looks. Many tourists from Japan come from the Harajuku district, the epicenter of nano-trends and micro-waves. This area of youth-gone-wild has always had it all: from the overplayed look of Lolita to baby-hued fairy kei; primary rainbow-splashed SpongeBob-esque decora to black-and-white gyaru and mopsy-flopsy vintage dolly kei; politically incorrect ganguro (my fave!) to Muslim Lolita (Lolita with a headscarf?) and on and on. They love overkill and sometimes it verges on cosplay, so be warned.
My absolute favorite Japanese micro-trend of the moment is an aerobic dance fever-dipped boy-friendly look called kawaii boys or, as the media calls them, genderless kei. Like a demented phoenix, this wild 'n' weird trend has risen from the phosphorescent, glitter-strewn ashes of kawaii style. Perhaps it is a male version of kawaii—cute and bright bowl haircuts curling over acid-hued sweatbands in pinks, peaches and purples with jaunty caps and berets and colored contacts and bold lipstick.
But back to my secret spots in Honolulu. 88 Tees (88tees.com) is perhaps my favorite shop, bar-none. A frequent stop for kool kid tourists and rock stars, A-Listers and freakazoids, 88 Tees features unique day-glo postmodern wild style fun-as-heck genius tees and the like littering every nook and cranny. With a certain island brilliance I have never once witnessed outside of this postmodern paradise, Trinky, the brainchild and owner, is an absolute genius and has created the most delicious boutique.
At North Shore-based Happy Haleiwa (happyhaleiwa.net), one of the funnest candy-coated, surf-inspired streetwear spots in town, the hubbie and I snapped up rad poi-themed tees and key rings with slogans like "Enjoy Life One Wave at a Time." Yup. Can do!
LeSportsac and Hawaii have a very special relationship, and I was lucky enough to design a LeSportsac Hawaii exclusive a while back (oh yeah, and four other Amy Davis Artist Editions … shameless plug!). Their newest release is a Hawaii bag dubbed So Ono (ono means "delicious") and baby, these bags are drool-worthy. White with simple marker drawings of fruity shave ice, traditional coconut puddings called haupia, freshly fried Portuguese donut holes called malasadas, and, of course, spam sushi aka musubi—All on your bag! Really!
Joanna Beall of Rebecca Beach (rebeccabeach.com) has a veritable smorgasbord of style crammed into a wee sugar-pie cottage in Kapahulu, a stone's throw from Waikiki. I grabbed a Race Skelton-designed trucker cap with the pidgin term "Shoots" written across the front. Shoots means: Rats! or Rad! or Hey! or What's up? But mostly shoots means shoots. Say it in a falsetto for true effect when the waves are really big. Shoots is as local as the Chicken Lau Lau at Highway Inn or the mayo-laden California roll at the long-gone Pee Wee Drive-In. This quaint, spiffy shop is high-end and local at the same time.
After munching down on some hoji (roasted tea) ice cream, I dipped into Moni Honolulu (instagram.com/ monihonolulu) in Waikiki where I found the weirdest tan Snoopy bags. I mean, all the Peanuts kids were tan. It was so wrong that I couldn't leave the boutique. They put 'em on beach towels, totes, iPhone cases, coffee cups … so stupid, but stupid-fresh! I wanted it all (still do), but I treated myself to a tote with the bronze beagle kissing a Coppertone Lucy.
There is always a choice in life. We have it daily and at every millisecond. Judging and pointing your knobby fingers at the "Other" and murmuring that "Hell is people," suddenly—voila! There really will be "No Exit" for you in this life. You will always be sad, mad and a big old frumpy meanie-poo. Why not rise above? Why not choose to be truly happy, to live as joyfully as possible in very uncertain times? I say, choose the hard one: Smile. Be uber-cool, cuz people are petrified. They need a big chunk of love. Even if they frustrate you, be kind. Kindness is the greatest wisdom, so says my fortune cookie.
In the islands, the word aloha means hello, goodbye, love and compassion. Aloha is also a way to live, a joyful sharing of life energy in the present. This is the gift: To be completely present in this moment. Aloha also means to sparkle and sour and create, to ferment all of life's gifts and challenges in a way that makes something wonderfully pickled and magically unique that uplifts and inspires.
And finally, the oldest Hawaiian meaning of aloha is "God in us." Adios means "to God;" they are similar, no?
And with that I move onwards to a new life path. You can find me instead on my website, amydavis.com. With aloha, I bid adios to SFR and my fab style fiends of Santa Fe. You have all turned away from frump and have chosen to shine way bright—blindingly, even—and I see you. I see you in your colors and panache and shimmering clouds of giggles as I pass you in the probiotics section of Whole Foods. I sigh and smile and know my job is done.