Click on photo to enlarge.
I recently posted a video essay that had a photo of a beautiful dress my mom wore to go to a party in Honolulu in the 1950s. Turns out my sister-in-law Francesca's boyfriend Cy's mother was an important dressmaker there at the same time.
"Here's some back story. In the 50s, the Miss Chinatown contest was a big deal in Honolulu. Brenda, Cy's mom, made beautiful silk cheongsam (also known as qipao) dresses for the contestants. (That's the tight style you see her wearing in the photo. It originated in Shanghai, where she grew up, in the 20s.) Her husband, Wyleon Lo, was an artist. When she finished making a dress, he would paint it with all kinds of decoration. Soon it was de rigeur for a Miss Chinatown contestant to have a dress made by Brenda Lo and painted by Wyleon Lo.
The restaurant Brenda is in is Lau Yee Chai in Honolulu, said at the time to be the most beautiful Chinese restaurant in the world. Wyleon painted the columns, outside & inside. The table she is standing on is by the bar (with mirror behind) on the 2nd floor."
"In the photo with Linda & Cy, she is standing in the courtyard of the same restaurant. The column they are standing beside was painted by Wyleon. That occasion was the wedding of Wyleon's brother Waituck (also an artist), 1959. Cy, age 5, is wearing a Chinese outfit made by Brenda. He had wanted to wear his cowboy boots, and put them on for the actual wedding.
The restaurant is now gone. It was at the beginning of Kuhio Avenue and the junction of Kalakaua Avenue on the spot now occupied by the Ambassador Hotel. Who knows, maybe your parents went there when they lived in Hawaii?"