Evening of Elegance

HANALEI — Break out your tuxedos, polish up those dancing shoes, and get your auction bids ready for The Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay’s Black and White Celebration on Dec. 12.

The event boasts an evening of drinks, live music by Group Therapy, silent and live auctions, and a fashion show. There’s an open bar for the first 90 minutes and guests get to dress to the nines while supporting the club’s multiple projects.

“This is the first time we’ve done this twist on the event,” said Michael Dexter-Smith, the club’s president, . “We’ve traditionally done a dinner, but this year we thought we’d give it a real show.”

Representatives from various cultures that have contributed to Hawaii’s history will be in the audience, dressed in the traditional garb of their countries.

“We have ladies from the Polynesian Islands, Japan, China, Korea — all in traditional dress,” Dexter-Smith said. “That’s sort of the community side of the event.”

The fashion show will display 30 outfits from local lines.

“It’ll be little bit of a first time through for the group that’s running the fashion show, but it should be great,” Dexter-Smith said. “We’ve got some great designers, beautiful designers and the cultural show will be great.”

Chanterelle Chantara, one of Kauai’s local designers, said she’s thrilled to be part of the upcoming show.

“I was contacted this fall and asked if I wanted to be part of it and I was like, yes,” Chantara said. “I think it’s so wonderful that they’re doing a fashion show.”

Chantara will be debuting her 2015 Fall Runway Collection, and folks will be able to see snippits of every category of her work from every-day casual to red-carpet gowns.

“I can’t reveal the theme of the actual line because it’s a secret,” Chantara said. “It’s a special theme to fit with the rotary and there will be some exquisite beaded gowns.”

Everything that Chantara sends down the runway is Kauai made, and many of the designs are tailored to specific local women.

“I get my inspiration from the women I am designing for,” Chantara said. “I design for all shapes and sizes and they tell me what makes them feel beautiful and what insecurities (they want to hide). I listen to that and create the best meld for their form and figure.”

She’s inspired not only by the beauty of her neighbors and friends, though. Chantara said the beauty of the island itself sparks creativity.

“My island speaks to me,” Chantara said. “I walk on the beach every day and I feel the sun and hear the birds and I put that sense of sophisticated island (into every piece that I make).”

The event’s auctions are another colorful addition to the annual fundraiser.

“We want this to be an upbeat celebration and thank you to the community and members for doing all that they’ve done, and talk with this ohana about how we’re moving forward,” Dexter-Smith said.

The annual fundraiser provides money that fuels The Hanalei Rotary Club’s multiple projects including things like roadside trash pick-up, book giveaways to school children, and placing rescue tubes at beaches.

“We’ve saved something like 60-plus people with the rescue tubes over the years,” Dexter-Smith said. “We also do food pantries in Kilauea, the Growing Our Own Teachers (organization), and we’ve started Staying Alive with Wilcox.”

Growing Our Own Teachers is a nonproffit that focuses on creating a local workforce for elementary schools on the island. Staying Alive is an event that teaches folks to use IED machines and how to do CPR. The club has also helped rennovate the Hanalei Pier and they hand out dictionaries annually to the keiki.

Looking forward, Dexter-Smith said that the club is developing a micro-loan prgram for Kauai women and youth who would like to start their own businesses.

“We are great believers in lifting up the community not by handouts, but by empowering the women and youth, they lift up the rest of the community,” Dexter-Smith said. “If you lift them up, you lift up the entire community.”

The club is also gearing up to help with hair lip and cleft palate surgeries for kids both on and off-island.

“We’ll be asking for people to support that event as well, because kids’ lives are completely changed,” Dexter-Smith said.

Island issues like mental health, spousal abuse, and human trafficking are also in the club’s crosshairs.

“(We are looking at) what I call the issues in between, those things that people don’t always talk about,” said Dexter-Smith. “We’re as well positioned as any organization across the world to ask questions and start the conversation. About 20-some-odd years ago, we asked what are we going to do with this thing called polio and we erradicated it.”

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at the St. Regis Hotel, and the open bar will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Group Therapy will kick off their show at 6:45 p.m.

General admission tickets are available online at hanaleirotary.org and dinner tickets are available by member invitation only.

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