HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Big Island fashion designer Sharayah Chun-Lai takes inspiration from everything around her and turns it into clothing and accessories under her signature brand, Ola Hou Designs.
“The way I design is based on my family, my friends, my culture, my life, my love. That’s what I do as a designer. I take that and make these footprints become a story,” she said.
Chun-Lai developed her fashion sense when she was a child playing dress up and watching her grandmother get ready.
“I watched her get ready from head to toe, I watched her put on the clothes, the skirts, the jackets, the shoes, combine everything, the jewelry, from head to toe. She loved me. She would sit me there in awe seeing her own style,” she said.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in fashion design and merchandising from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and later opened her clothing line.
“I was able to launch my first collection in 2019,” he said.
Through it all, he has kept his eye on the grand prize.
“I would tell my family, ‘If I could ever make it to New York Fashion Week, that would be the ultimate goal,'” she said.
That goal became a reality when she received a call inviting her to present her aloha outfit on Runway 7 at Sony Hall during next week’s Fashion Week.
Runway 7 representatives told her that they were following her through Instagram and her website and were impressed with her unique designs and the stories they tell.
Next Wednesday is her big day in Times Square and she’s both excited and nervous.
“I really wanted to show that I can do more and that I can bring that side of fashion and that side of high-end fashion to the runway. I’m excited for people to see that,” she said.
Chun-Lai balances her design work with being a wife and mother.
Other native Hawaiian fashion designers have appeared at Fashion Week, but she is the first native Hawaiian woman to accept an invite to Runway 7.
“I feel honored,” he said.
Chun-Lai will bring with her a team of assistants, models and hula dancers to help her tell her story, and the eyes of the fashion design world will be on the lookout.
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