CTAHR NEWS
13 October 2020

A Book of Beauty

Alumna pens an insider’s look at historical and everyday designs

A Book of Beauty

By: Marissa Nash, FDM undergraduate and CTAHR Student Ambassador

Ever wondered what it was like to be a student at UH Manoa back in the day? Agnes Terao-Guiala, an alumna of CTAHR, was more than happy to tell us. She was a Home Economics major from 1964 -1968, which is now known as the Family and Consumer Sciences department at CTAHR. Her experiences and education from CTAHR has brought her many opportunities over the course of her life, such as teaching at private and public schools in the islands, to publishing a book, Hawaiian Women’s Fashions: Kapa, Cotton, and Silk.

Although she was a Home Economics major, Agnes had friends in the Fashion Design Program here at CTAHR. She enjoyed hearing them talk about their assignments and projects, and was fascinated by their illustrations and designs. Being a Home Economics student and in the circle of her Fashion Design student friends, it was the perfect cornerstone of her interests. Decades later, she finds herself writing and publishing a book with the same interests in mind. 

Hawaiian Women’s Fashion: Kapa, Cotton, and Silk is a 296-page softcover book that takes you back in time to the traditional kapa pa’u, the muʻumuʻu, and even to the aloha shirt that we all know and love. She also talks about current day designs that have been seen on runways in Milan, Paris, London, and New York. Flip through the pages and you’ll find historic photos of nearly 200 authentic garments, and even garments she found at garage sales, thrift stores, and on auction websites, which are modeled by her family members, friends, and former students. 

The inspiration for Agnes’ book takes place in the Maui College library when she was in the midst of reading, marking and scoring 87 research papers as a British Literature teacher. When she took her “mental healthy” breaks, she would wander around the stacks of books within the library. Naturally, as a lifelong hula dancer and student of all things Hawaiian, she found herself attracted to the collection of Hawaiiana books.

What intrigued her most was Hawaiian women’s fashions, however, she couldn’t find much information on this topic. She did, however, come across an article about Richard Goodwin, one of the main designers for Alfred Shaheen. Within the article, Goodwin mentioned that he was planning to write a book about Hawaiian women’s fashions with links to the history of Hawaii. Unfortunately, Goodwin passed soon after the article was published, so his book was never written. “The article inspired me to start researching Hawaiian women’s fashion and the Hawaiian women who were the fashion leaders in the Islands,” Agnes explains.

In an exciting interview, Agnes describes heartwarming memories from when she was a Home Economics student at CTAHR. One of her favorites is when she lived in the Home Management house on UH Manoa campus. Located near what we now know as Campus Center, the house was home to year-four students who majored in Home Economics. There were five students who stayed there for three weeks at a time. Their tasks were to clean the house, prepare meals, bag lunches, and plan events weekly. She remembers fondly the time when they didn’t buy enough groceries for everyone, so they all had to eat only an orange for lunch. She also remembers planning an event for the students to watch a play at Kennedy Theatre and later on having a fun night out in Waikiki. Being in CTAHR programs and courses like this one gave her valuable experiences that have helped her in her future endeavors and she is very grateful for that.

You can purchase her book online or at the Bailey House or gift shop, with 10% of sales donated to the Wailuku Museum.

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