Reproductions of the formal suit Hawaii’s King Kalakaua wore at his coronation on February 12, 1883, along with his masonic apron, made their official debut at Iolani Palace on what would have been Mo’i Kalakaua’s 185th birthday, on Tuesday, November 16.
Created by designer Iris Viacrusis, the Coronation Suit was unveiled in the Palace’s Throne Room, while the Masonic Apron is now on display in the King’s Library on the second floor.
“It’s a fitting tribute to introduce King Kalakaua’s Coronation Suit and Masonic Apron on his birthday, just as we dress Iolani Palace each year to commemorate his 50th Jubilee,” said Paula Akana, Executive Director of The Friends of Iolani Palace. “While the originals have been lost to time, through the talents of Iris Viacrusis we are able to enrich the stories shared with guests with these garments that have been meticulously recreated with incredible historic accuracy.”
The two garments are the latest from the Palace’s Alii Garment Reproduction Project. Viacrusis also created four other items in the collection, including Queen Kapiolani’s lei hulu and peacock gather gowns, as well as Queen Liliuokalani’s ostrich feather gown and ribbon gown (which are shown in her official portrait in the Blue Room).
“Though King Kalakaua was inspired by Western and European fashion, he incorporated Native Hawaiian elements creating a style that was unique to our monarchs,” said Viacrusis. “Throughout history, fashion has been a form of expression that everyone can relate to. Bringing these pieces to life allows a new generation to connect with Hawaii’s royal past in a tangible way. It’s an honor to help bridge the gap between past and present.
Viacrusis studied Edwardian and Victorian fashion in Paris and has historic costumes for the Merrie Monarch court. He conducted extensive research of historical documents and photos, as well as similar Victorian-era attire to recreate the detail in the original garments.
The Coronation Suit was funded by the Grand Naniloa Resort Tower Development; the Masonic Apron was funded by Paul Crisostomo.
Additional donations were also received from Ani Lontoc, Junior Grand Warden Lodge of Hawaii, and Sis Eva Trinka, Worthy Matron Harmony Chapter No. 4-Order of the Ester Stars.