Honolulu’s C.S. Wo and Neiman Marcus Throw a Bash and Give Back to the Community

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The valet parking line stretched down the block for Honolulu-based lux furniture store C.S. Wo’s annual “Home for the Holidays” bash for its top-tier customers and designers. This year’s event marked the 16th anniversary partnership between C.S. Wo and Neiman Marcus.

The event, in conjunction with Neiman’s HeART corporate charitable giving program, featured some 60 exclusive holiday items from the Love to Give Collection. Ten percent of proceeds will be donated to the Honolulu Museum of the Arts.

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On the surface, this was an event like many others … until you noticed cross-cultural Pacific catering snapped up by attendees that included a pair of roast suckling pigs served Chinese style, a poke (po-kay) bowl of seasoned fresh ahi with kizami and tobico served on warm sushi rice or the pork and vegetable encrusted shrimp served with chili sauce. Rounding out the menu was a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing, perhaps a nod to Neiman’s Texas roots?

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We also enjoyed the singing of the Diamond Head Theater’s 45-member Shooting Stars children’s choir regaling with holiday songs. The theater, nicknamed “Broadway of the Pacific” celebrates its 101st anniversary this year.

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Of special interest to me was the surprise meeting of the multi-faceted photographer, stylist, luxury innkeeper and textile designer Amos Kotomori. He’s won a Clio, a Governor’s Fashion award and is a Rockefeller Fellowship recipient. He’s garnered recognition from the Los Angeles Film Review for production design and costuming. He’s consulted with hotels like the Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt, St. Regis and Dallas’ own Rosewood.

I “discovered” Kotomori’s menswear collection a couple of years ago at Neiman’s in Honolulu. Like the islands he was raised in, his designs are a cross-cultural mix that are as much tropical as they are eye-catching. I got to meet the man at C.S. Wo where he was showing a new collection as well as a newer line of bedding.

Ethnic, but hardly "Aloha"
Ethnic, but hardly “Aloha”

Eager to please his customers, when I asked if a certain shirt would be available in a long-sleeved version, I was told “no.” Kotomori overheard the exchange and interjected that he’d happily make one for me. And that’s how we met. (I prefer long-sleeves as they’re more versatile for “mainland” wearing.)

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Meeting Neiman’s Honolulu Men’s department provided the (champagne-fueled) opportunity to gently rip into Neiman’s overall men’s department failings (ho-ho-ho, Merrrry Christmas LOL). I get around a bit, and I do a bit of shopping. I explained that what was once a special experience has over the decades become as tired, safe, and boring as every other high-end shop around the world. Men are stuck with either buying staid classics like Brioni and Zegna or $600 ripped jeans and rumpled t-shirts. No midpoint, no verve; little unique or certainly local.

I don’t even bother looking at the formerly show-stopping Christmas catalog.

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Although he favors blues for his first bedding line, Kotomori’s prints are a riot of indigo, silver, brick, green, red and the rest of the Crayola box. With the expansion into bedding, it’s an even bigger mystery why Neiman’s only sells his wares in Honolulu. Some call his prints “aloha wear” and I think it’s a disservice. They’re cross-cultural and in long sleeve form, wearable in Dallas most of the year.

But enough …

At the end of the evening, I’d noshed and tippled and made the acquaintance of a clothing designer I’m a fan of. I also chatted with many of the wonderful hosts and hostesses associated with my favorite furniture store in Honolulu … C.S. Wo … who will make your “second shelter” first on your list.


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