Filipino fashion designer recreates historic royal attire for Iolani Palace, Merrie Monarch festival

Iris Viacrusis is a Filipino fashion designer who's work will be on display at Iolani Palace for Merrie Monarch's coronation ball.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 9:15 PM HST

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hilo-based Filipino fashion designer Iris Viacrusis is known for recreating the historic royal attire of the Hawaiian monarchy on display at Iolani Palace and Washington Place.

This year, the internationally trained designer is spearheading the return of the Merrie Monarch festival’s Royal Coronation Ball -- a beloved tradition that kicks off the week-long festivities.

Viacrusis and his team are recreating gowns and suits that will be worn by this year’s Royal Court.

“I have like more than 25 years of experience in regards to creating gowns. And I’ve always loved creating unique dresses. And in this case, because of my involvement with the reproduction gowns here at the palace,” said Viacrusis, who compares the process of producing period pieces to designing theatrical costumes. “There’ll be something that’s a little bit more exaggerated and things like that to be seen. The details will still be you know, recognizable when you look at the picture, that was the whole goal to actually make sure that when people see the royal court this year, they will see the portrait of the king and the queen and say, there they are.”

“My kumu that assisted in the peacock gown for two years. She was actually the very first Merrie Monarch queen. So that was Auntie Doreen Henderson. So during the 50th, we actually have a peacock gown that I made for her... in a different styling and I got to escort her on stage. So the peacock gown, Iolani Palace and the Merrie Monarch actually have this full circle embracing moment for me in regards to recreating these things,” he said.

The ball takes place on Sunday, April 9, at 4:30 p.m. at Nani Mau Gardens in Hilo.

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