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Catching a break at Malaekahana, on O‘ahu's windward coast.
Vol. 11, No. 3
June/July 2008

  >>   The Giving Tree
  >>   Green Chic
  >>   Town & Country

Green Chic (Page 2)

“We’re about completely saving the world in stylish eco-chic fashion,” says Deb Mascia of Mu‘umu‘u Heaven, and a tour of the celestial-themed boutique leaves no doubt that the proprietors, Deb and husband/co-owner Eric Mascia, are putting their money where their mantra is. Mascia delights in sharing the joyfully no-budget provenance of her surprise-filled shop’s fittings: garage sales, dumps, demolition sites, serendipitous strokes of luck. The theme of creative recycling continues, colorfully, on the racks. One-of-a-kind skirts, tops and dresses are confected from exquisite vintage aloha wear, sometimes combined with bamboo fabric.

And the clothes virtually sell themselves. “If I don’t want to get stopped by strangers on the street—whether it’s Kalakaua or Melrose Avenue—I don’t wear my own designs,” Mascia says. The Australia-born eco-diva (whose favorite color, naturally, is green) is a completely self-taught designer. A lifelong thrift-shopper, she was working at the Honolulu Academy of Arts when she started remaking old aloha wear into contemporary garb for her family. Her bedroom floor was wall-to-wall with deconstructed secondhand mu‘umu‘u, and when a visitor exclaimed, “This is mu‘umu‘u hell!” Eric Mascia retorted, fatefully, “No, it’s mu‘umu‘u heaven.” The business that ensued is a runaway success (clients include Eva Mendes, Jada Pinkett Smith and Mrs. Kevin James), but Mascia still knows every dress by heart.

“I think some of my mu‘us have danced with Marlon Brando—or maybe Elvis,” she says dreamily, then adds, “I really believe this is heaven for things that otherwise might have reached the end of their existence.”