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The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort to Feature Matson Archives Exhibit: “Fashion Aboard Matson’s S.S Lurline And the Royal Hawaiian”

September 6, 2018 Visit Hawaii No Comments Email Email

Matson Navigation Company, Inc., the company that helped inspire generations of travel to Hawaii by building The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, is once again sharing rare treasures from its archives in a new exhibit at the Pink Palace of the Pacific.

Fashion Aboard Matson’s S.S. Lurline and The Royal Hawaiian – a collection of fashion from 1920s – 1960s opens to the public free of admission on Tuesday, October 16th in the Coronet Lounge of the Royal Hawaiian. Featured in the exhibit will be a vintage fashion program and 46 fashion photographs and illustrations ranging from cruise attire to bathing suits, cocktail dresses, evening gowns and Hawaiian holoku with a long elegant train.

Matson Lines, as the company was known during this period, loved fashion, and so did their cruise ship passengers. Steamer trunks were packed with a generous baggage allowance of 350 pounds per person.  Passengers could consult Matson fashion experts who were readily available onboard the S.S. Lurline en route to Honolulu, Waikiki. At The Royal Hawaiian, dress shops had weekly fashion shows.

During the spring of 1941, Matson Lines and The Royal Hawaiian hosted a fashion show in Honolulu at Liberty House department store. The program, “Aloha Hawaii, A Fabric Fashion Show” included 26 fashions. One of the gowns, Dancing at The Royal, donned a sheer bolero with long soft ripples of Celanese rayon for the skirt of the dress. Playful five-piece jumper sets included shorts, halters, skirts and blouses. For a nautical look, slacks with a middy top were worn tucked in or out. A bathing suit with a matching sarong was worn as a cape in place of a beach robe.

“Bathing caps were fashionable back in the 1930s,” said Matson archivist Lynn Blocker Krantz. “They were sleek and chic. And there was another benefit…one could ride a Waikiki wave, and their salon hairstyle would be perfectly preserved under that rubber cap. They’d be ready-to-go for an evening at the Royal,” she continued.

This is the seventh Matson exhibit at The Royal Hawaiian for Krantz and it will be on display through 2019.  Earlier exhibits included Amelia Earhart in Hawaii, Hollywood’s Golden Age in Waikiki, Boat Days, The Waikiki Beach Boys, The Vintage Menu Exhibit and The Travel to Hawaii Ads Exhibit.

Matson Navigation Company was instrumental in the development of tourism to Hawaii and the South Pacific.  A fleet of Matson Lines cruise ships, the most famous being the S.S. Lurline, traveled between the mainland and Hawaii from the 1920s to 1960s.  Matson built The Royal Hawaiian in 1927 so that luxury accommodations would be available to their customers both afloat and ashore.  Matson photographers took thousands of snapshots of celebrities and world-class travelers who traveled on its ships and vacationed in Waikiki.  Matson Navigation Company Archives encompass a vast collection of photographs and artwork from the company’s celebrated passenger and hotel era from the 1920s to the 1960s.

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