9 Unforgettable Moments from Manaola’s New York Fashion Week Show

Designer Manaola Yap and his team share a behind-the-scenes look at their incredible NYFW 2017 experience.


Hawai‘i designer Manaola Yap made a dazzling New York Fashion Week debut in Manhattan on Sept. 8 with a glamorous runway show rich in Hawaiian culture. Yap presented Kōlani, a collection of womenswear and menswear designed as an homage to Hawai‘i’s beloved ali‘i, representing the designer’s vision of what modern-day monarchs would wear today. 


The whirlwind experience went much farther than the show, however. The busy days leading up to and after the main event were filled with hectic show prep, countless press interviews, traffic-stopping photo shoots on the New York City streets and joy-filled celebrations with family and friends. Here, Yap and his team share some of their favorite, unforgettable moments from their NYFW experience.


Manaola New York Fashion Week

Photos: Courtesy of Manaola

“Throughout Manaola’s eventful week, Hawai‘i News Now reporter Mileka Lincoln, a cousin of our designer, and photographer Jared Apilado documented every step of our journey, covering at least six live spots a day on local news as well as livestreaming the show on HNN's Facebook page. This capture was taken on the lānai of our runway venue Studio 450 probably an hour before the show.” 


Manaola New York Fashion Week

“A heartfelt interview for Hawai‘i News Now with our dear friend and mentor, Lynne O’Neill, whom we had the pleasure of working with as the producer of our HONOLULU Fashion Week runway show in 2016. Lynne was instrumental in our New York Fashion Week debut, guiding us through the process and offering her insights throughout.”


Manaola New York Fashion Week

“Manaola hosted an intimate media brunch with bloggers and editors from the likes of CBS, Forbes and Fashion Week Online. We were thrilled to share about our traditional design process and the cultural elements that make Manaola’s perspective so unique.”


Starr Kalahiki

“Award-winning jazz singer Starr Kalahiki moved the crowd to tears with a powerful rendition of “Makalapua,” written for Queen Lili‘uokalani, that began the fashion show. For Kalahiki, this song was her offering of mele inoa for the beloved mō‘ī wāhine, especially for a collection created with the ali‘i in mind.”


Manaola New York Fashion Week

“Designer Yap took a moment to share about the purpose and practice of his design process as well as his foundation in hula. He also shared his deep mahalo to all who contributed to his journey, including the local designers who came before him and inspired him, such as Sig Zane, Mamo Howell, Nake‘u Awai, Ari South, Kini Zamora and Danene Lunn (who attended).”


Manaola New York Fashion Week

“To set the tone with cultural tradition, the fashion show opened with oli (chant) performed by designer Yap, his mother, Nani Lim Yap, aunt Lorna Lim, and sister Asialynn Yap, who performed a traditional dressing ceremony as they wrapped Asialynn in her pā‘ū skirt. Immediately following this protocol, Asialynn performed a powerful hula kahiko to honor their foundation of culture and tradition.”


Manaola New York Fashion Week

“The moment this look hit the runway an audible gasp was heard throughout the crowd. Billowing trains are a Manaola signature and both male and female versions were featured on models who embodied the power and grace of this eye-catching look.” 


Manaola New York Fashion Week

“A quiet moment amid the chaos. Manaola captivated passersby in the middle of busy Times Square with a photo shoot immediately following the fashion show. Live footage was captured by photographer Calvin Canha and local (Hawai‘i) filmmaker Etienne Aurelius for an upcoming documentary he is working on in partnership with Manaola.”


Manaola New York Fashion Week

“In the late hours after the runway show, family, friends and guests gathered at the Home Polish office headquarters founded by O‘ahu-born Nainoa Santos. The theme of Hawai‘i celebration continued with some of the most iconic voices in Hawaiian music taking the stage to perform. Kumu hula Nani Lim Yap offered several hula alongside some of her haumāna (students), children Manaola and Asialynn, as well as nieces Wehi and Wēkiu.” 


Snag Manaola fashions for your own closet at manaolahawaii.com




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