Hawaii woman works her way up to become respected NY fashion producer

O'Neill guides models during rehearsal. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
O'Neill guides models during rehearsal. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK (HawaiiNewsNow) - Designer Manaola Yap isn't the only Hawaii native making strides at the 2017 New York Fashion Week. A Hawaii woman, small in stature, is playing a huge role during the globally renown event.

Her name is Lynne O'neill.

"In the fashion business, in the fashion industry, she is the number one," Manaola Yap, the designer behind the company Manaola, said.

O'Neill is a fashion show director and producer born in Honolulu but living in New York City. There, she helps to brings designs from some of the top fashion houses to life on the runway.

"I've been producing and directing fashion shows for over 35 years. I started at Macy's in Special Events in San Francisco and worked my way — I don't know how, it all kind of snowballed and everything," O'neill said. "I've had the great fortune to be producing fashion shows at New York Fashion Week since the very beginning."

She oversees 14 to 17 fashion shows per season during each New York Fashion Week through her company, Hula Inc.

Some of her notable clients include BCBGMaxazria, Tommy Hilfiger, Gianni Versace and more recently, Manaola.

"I've had the great honor to work with Manaola in Honolulu Fashion Week which was last year and they did such a outstanding collection. It was one of the highlights of Honolulu Fashion Week and that's why Oxford Fashion Studio actually found them," O'Neill said.

O'Neill won't be able to work on Manaola's show here NYC because she has another show she's directing at the same time, but she says she's rooting him on.

"I'm very very proud that Hawai'i is represented by Manaola," she said. "It's like a big aloha to New York City. Everyone aspires to it but he's doing it. Hopefully it's going to inspire others in Hawaii...If you have the dream it can happen."

O'Neill has served as the fashion consultant on shows that are credited with setting trends and changing pop-culture. Trends seen on Gossip Girl and Sex in the City just to name a few.

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