Pacific American-News Journal
Kepakemapa - September 1996 Volume 2 Issue 9
by Carol Kelly
In 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
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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