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Fashion // Fashion Flash
Yu Shing Ting

Shaheen Exhibit At Bishop Museum

The ground-breaking aloha wear designs of Alfred Shaheen return to its birthplace of Honolulu for an exhibit at Bishop Museum Nov. 10, 2012, through Feb. 4, 2013.

“HI Fashion: The Legacy of Alfred Shaheen” tells the story of how a Honolulu-based designer elevated the aloha shirt to the world of high fashion and made aloha wear a clothing trend that is here to stay. The exhibit at Bishop Museum represents Shaheen’s work over a 40-year period, and will be the largest collection of Shaheen designs ever shown with more than 200 pieces, including aloha shirts and the famous Hawaiian Bombshell Dress.

An earlier version of this exhibit debuted in 2010 at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, and it is the first major traveling retrospective of Hawaiian textiles and aloha wear. The exhibit also features archival photos and ads that recall how his textiles were designed, manufactured and marketed.

The collection comes from Shaheen’s daughter, Camille Shaheen, and her husband, William Tunberg, who have been collecting Shaheen’s designer wear since the late 1990s as a way to document family history.

Of Lebanese descent, Shaheen and his parents settled in Honolulu in 1938, establishing a custom dress shop. Wanting to branch out into ready-to-wear fashion, Shaheen opened his factory in 1948, and built one of the most comprehensive textile printing, garment manufacturing, and retail-companies Hawaii would ever see. By 1959, he employed 400 workers and grossed more than $4 million annually, dominating the local garment industry. His designs were carried in his own chain stores, as well as Liberty House, Andrades and McInerny. Shaheen’s designs also were featured in national stores such as Bullock’s, Macy’s and Bergdorf Goodman. The museum also will host a series of lectures and presentations exploring Shaheen’s legacy, his cultural influences, the emergence and propagation of multi-ethnic identities within the fashion industry, and how his approach to design and business forged a new model reflecting ethnic integration.

For more information, visit bishopmuseum.org or call 847-3511.

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