Nordstrom Gala 2016

Nordstrom Ala Moana's annual gala greeted VIP customers and media personnel with bottles of mini Champagne! (with a genius idea of lipstick-friendly straws!)

┬ęKristen Nemoto

Of the many jobs that I've had after graduating from college, my time as a sales gal at Nordstrom Ala Moana's Dresses department was by far the most fun. It was February, 2008 and I was in utter fashion bliss. I had just left my temporary gig as a full-time substitute teacher at Kailua High School and I was looking for something with less paperwork, a fun atmosphere and - above all - health insurance. 

Not only did I find all three, my time spent working at Nordstrom came with an entire range of experiences and unforgettable moments. I helped find the perfect wedding dress. A first prom dress. A dress for a Miss Aloha Hula contestant. An inauguration dress for President Barack Obama's sister. And a dress for the late James Gandolfini's (yes, Mr. Soprano himself) future mother-in-law for the star's Kahala Hotel wedding reception (which - long story short - I ended up attending and coerced into being the mother-in-law's son's date!)

I love Nordstrom because of its dedication to customer service. Not only do they hire the best of the best (if I say so myself), they genuinely seek out employees who are willing to go the extra mile in creating memorable experiences. (Side note: let's count my wedding attendance to the Soprano wedding as the exception to that rule. I didn't know I was to be someone's blind date. That was embarrassing. I was going strictly for the free food and booze, a chance to gawk at James Gandolfini and his beautiful wife, and - most importantly - a promised meet and greet with "Vogue editors" who were supposedly "invited." They didn't show up, by the way. But my date sure did.)

Nordstrom Ala Moana's new Ewa wing location is exquisite and fresh. It has floor to ceiling windows along the makai side of the walls, inviting our beautiful island scenery in and a part of the overall shopping experience. Wooden panels on the ceiling create a warm and welcoming vibe while the natural light accentuates Nordstrom's latest fashions and trends.

My co-worker and I were fortunate to be able to attend Nordstrom Ala Moana's Aloha United Way Gala on Tuesday night. There was amazing food stations, eager and ready caterers with ice-cold beverages in hand, models donning the latest spring fashions, and - of course - shoes, shoes, shoes!

Here is a recap of the evening from the viewpoint of my trusty Samsung:

If I ever become Beyonce and Jay-Z rich, I would love to have these amazing people greet me at my front door.

From left to right: gorgeous live models; my date for the evening, Mrs. Brittany Kevan.

First stop, shoes.

Again ... B&J rich? I'm talking Manolo and Valentino everything.

Show me your kicks! Loving the sales team member's taste in shoes! (left is Vera Wang).

From left to right: photo bomber and salesperson Desiree wearing an ASOS dress, Steve Madden shoes and J. Crew earrings.

From left to right: Customer Lynnsey wearing an Eden in Love dress and a friend's hand-made bag. Sales team members: Amy and Tina. Amy is wearing a See by Chloe dress and Manolo Blahnik shoes. Tina is wearing a French Connection dress and Vince Camuto shoes.

Yummy horderves! 

Fierce. Love it!

Loving the table decor.

And the live models!

From left to right: Sales gals Yiana and Beth. Yiana is wearing an Alexander Wang dress and Zara shoes. Beth is wearing a vintage dress and Steve Madden shoes. Gala attendees Jasmine Lombardi and Nova Rizzo. Jasmine is wearing Cynthia Rowley. Nova is wearing Sam Edelman booties and a Florencia Arias dress.

So here's a cool idea: a bar that's smack dab in the middle of a department store. Insert Nordstrom Ala Moana's Habitant. There's only six Nordstrom Habitant bars within the country, and I'm so very excited that one of them is here at Nordstrom Ala Moana! Somewhat dangerous when you pair my love of fashion with a titillating drink but it's OK. I'll live.


From left to right: customers Jean and Kam. Jean is wearing Nike and Kam is wearing Levi's and Nike. Sales team members Allison, Rosanna, Sean and Shawn. Allison is wearing Ted Baker and Steve Madden shoes. Rosanna is wearing McQ by Alexander McQueen dress and Lanvin shoes. Sean is wearing a Hugo Boss suit and Allen Edmunds shoes. Shawn is wearing a Forever 21 suit and Adidas shoes.

Now my turn. I'm wearing vintage Forever 21, Coach shoes and a vintage clutch (my grandmother's!). The hat is from B.P. It's not mine, yet.

We're loving the abundance of local designers!

From left to right: Customers Laureen Smith and Brian Fukuhara. Laureen is wearing Alice + Olivia, Marnie, Alexander Wang, David Yurman and Cartier. Brian is wearing a custom made vintage suit. Customers Felix and Condesa. Felix is wearing a DKNY suit and Magnanni shoes. Condesa is wearing custom Versace shoes and a BCBG dress.

Selfie time!

And strike a pose time!

From left to right: customers Natalie Schack and Taylor. Natalie and wearing Young, Broke and Fabulous. Taylor is wearing Reyn Spooner. Nordstrom store manager Brian Tatsumura (wearing lei) celebrates a successful (sold-out!) Nordstrom Gala celebration.

My favorite part of the evening: sunglass selfies!

One more, minus the tag in my face.

We bid farewell to the store until it reopens to the public this Friday. Can't wait to come back! Mahalo, Nordstrom!

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Kristen has got the remedy to help cure those blues. Follow her as she shares her retail discoveries and adventurous buys. When she's not hunting down those perfect flats, she loves to practice yoga, eat healthy and lounge with a good book or a Tom Hanks movie. 


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