Spring Fashion Feature: Proud Hawaiian Model Mahina Florence Inspires Murals
Not willing to change her identity to be part of the industry, Mahina Florence is at the height of her career because of her flawless Hawaiian complexion, strong athletic build, and friendly aloha spirit.
“I am over a quarter Hawaiian, reigning from the Mahi ‘ohana,” Mahina Florence says. “My nana and late papa [grandfather] were the epitome of family, culture and heritage. They taught me to be proud of who I am.”
This firm foundation helped the North Shore-based model walk tall when “brown” girls could barely get a foot in the door, let alone on the runway. “I remember my agents telling me that I wouldn’t book many jobs. [At the time] they were right,” she says. “I knew it wasn’t my mindset that needed to be broadened, it was the rest of the world that needed to grow.”
As demand for inclusion increased, so did demand for her beautiful confidence, cheekbones that could cut glass and aloha spirit—“when people ask me where I’m from, I would say ‘Hawai‘i,’ and they’d respond with ‘aahh, that’s why.’” Florence landed jobs with Target, Lululemon Athletica, Nike and Coca-Cola as well as in the pages of British Vogue, Shape and Forbes. Impressive. However, the project that commands the most attention is a local mural portraying Mahina as a Hawaiian moon goddess (obviously a nod to her name) that Kamea Hadar painted on a 14-story apartment building in ‘Aiea. “It holds the state’s record as the largest portrait in Hawai‘i.” With that, it’s safe to say she’s made it big.
“I knew it wasn’t my mindset that needed to be broadened, it was the rest of the world that needed to grow.”
Eugenia Kim Blaine Fedora, $375, Neiman Marcus, Ala Moana Center, (808) 951-8887, neimanmarcus.com. Esse Studios gathered rib dress, $584, We Are Iconic, 1108 Auahi St., #155, (808) 462-4575, shopweareiconic.com. Sensio Studio straw tote, $135, Neiman Marcus.
Dior Club Shield sunglasses, $600, Saks Fifth Avenue, International Market Place, (808) 600-2500, saksfifthavenue.com. Tibi Italian sporty nylon shirtdress, $495, We Are Iconic. Stella McCartney Loop transparent sneakers, $595, Neiman Marcus.