Honolulu Modern: A Post-Election Week In Paradise

Honolulu Modern: A Post-Election Week In Paradise

Contributing writer Nick Remsen offers a photo diary of the diverse and progressive people he found in American paradise.

Contributing writer Nick Remsen offers a photo diary of the diverse and progressive people he found in American paradise.

Text: Nick Remsen

The state of Hawaii was an unexpectedly thought-provoking spot to be this past week; I did not think it would help me reckon with Hillary Clinton’s loss. Paradise, in theory, serves as escape: no matter where one’s allegiances lie, a getaway usually functions as a break from the “real” world.

But I found myself considering that Hawaii—Honolulu in particular—might be a preferred reality, in some ways. I did not know that the state is among the bluest in the country. Yet progressive policies and governance aside, what struck me about it was an overarching sense of peacefulness and open-mindedness. It’s like the collective Hawaiian temperament—“island time”—functions as an ostensible air freshener perfuming the already lovely clime, the bloom-and-salt hung breeze. (To note: Hawaii has eight main islands. I only visited Oahu, the most populous in the archipelago, where Honolulu is located).

What I came to notice, past Hawaii’s idyllic geography—its jagged mountaintop contours and curving azure horizons, the shallow hums of Waikiki’s waves or the bone-stirring thunderclaps of North Shore’s breaks—is that its people are exceptional (including Barack Obama, who was born in Honolulu). Honolulu is diverse, in regards to both inhabitants and visitors, and the community is friendly. How refreshing. I’m not kidding. I can’t believe I am writing this in 2016, but it’s newsworthy to me that a cumulative group of people can be inclusive and warm and caring. I met people from Honolulu, from Curitiba, Brazil, from Frankfurt, Germany, from New Orleans, Louisiana, and more. Everybody had something kind to say; everybody had something optimistic to say. No exaggeration. I couldn’t help but think that much of the mainland might benefit from taking a page from Honolulu’s playbook. Here’s this relatively little outpost thousands of miles from anywhere else, with what seemed to feel like a pretty healthy social fabric (of course, nowhere is without it's issues—nowhere is utopia). Back on the mainland, said social fabric is in need of a damn good seamstress.

This story was going to be about street style, but somehow that now feels trivial. Rather, here are some of Honolulu’s—and Hawaii’s—myriad faces, and a few stories behind them.

Here’s someone I chased down for a picture at Honolulu Fashion Week, which took place over the weekend. Iron Maiden Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld as Steve Harris. Can someone send me this? (Also, every single person I asked graciously said yes to having their picture taken. I am going to be friendlier about this in the future, not that it happens all that often to me.)

Here’s a young woman named Talea Lischetzki—born in Germany, based in Los Angeles, and raised in Hawaii—wearing a design by the local Hawaiian label Manaola Hawaii, from Manaola Yap. I saw her at the Modern Hotel, one of Honolulu’s boutique-iest spots, and had to ask for a photo. Yap himself then invited me to stop by his show, which was to take place at Honolulu Fashion Week the next day. Sweet.

I went to a gay club called Scarlet in Downtown Honolulu with a few friends on Saturday night. I didn’t catch her name, but I loved her tattoos, and asked her if I could take her picture for V Magazine. “Do you know V?” I inquired. “Of course I know V,” she said with a laugh.

This is Auntie Dina, a waitress at the Moana Surfrider in Waikiki. I mentioned to her that I wanted to get a tattoo when I was in Oahu (I didn’t, in the end) but she recommended a shop and then told us the stories behind hers. Each dragonfly and butterfly represents a member of her family.

“Can I take your picture, you’re amazing!” I screamed as Ariana Grande blasted. “Of course!” she screamed back.

Alex, Travis and Koa Smith, originally from another Hawaiian island called Kauai, but here shown on Oahu’s North Shore. Koa, far left, won VMAN’s modeling contest last year!

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