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Hale Pai
Pacific American-News Journal

Kepakemapa - September 1996 Volume 2 Issue 9

 The Holoku

by Carol Kelly

Holoku pictureIn regards to the Holoku Ball, we thought we would begin with an explanation of what a holoku is.

When missionaries arrived in the Hawaiian Islands, they found that the natives were rather scantily dressed. Men wore malos and the women wore pa'u skirts made from bark.

The native women admired the missionary clothes which was reminiscent of New England fashions of the early 1820s. Queen Kaahumanu's first dress was designed from a nightgown because her ample figure was not enhanced by the fitted lines of the newcomers. It is said that the new garments for the island native women caused the new garments to hike up in the front and dip in the back causing a train-like effect.

Eventually, the holoku became a part of the Hawaiian wardrobe. Prior to the arrival of the missionaries, Hawaiians traded sandalwood for fabulous silks from China. As time passed these fabrics were used for the new type dresses.

Natives adopted the white man's mode of dress and beautiful gowns were imported from abroad. Today gowns are cherished possessions reflecting this era. With so many races living in Hawaii their influences are apparent in the variety of styles seen.

In regards to the attire for the Holoku Ball this November. The event is a black tie affair. Holokus may be worn, but if you are not comfortable with a holoku or do not own one, a formal gown may be used in its place. There are no rules governing your holoku/formal gown design, but we recommend that you wear what you feel most comfortable with and/or design your dress to you desire, that would include fabrics such as sequined fabric, velvet satin, silk etc.

As for the men, suit and tie, tuxedo, or formal Hawaiian attire is recommended. Formal Hawaiian attire is black pants, white shirt and a sash.

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Copyright 1996 Hale Pai Pacific American-News Journal
Last modified: February 28, 1998

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