HONOLULU (KHON2) — Local fashion designer and events planner Eric Kamakahiaai Eugene Chandler died Thursday at Hilo Medical Center.
He was 67 years old.
Chandler, who is from Puyallup, Washington moved to Hawaii at age 17 to attend University of Hawaii’s Hilo campus.
He later went to Japan to study Japanese at Tokai University. He then moved to Honolulu, where he worked at Bagwell’s 2424 as a sommelier.
He was also a talented artist and designer, and served as president of University of Hawaii’s special events art gallery in Manoa.
In Honolulu, he and Takeo founded 2Couture, a design and special events company.
He was also a mentor and life coach for many successful actors and models, including Jason Momoa of Aquaman,
Known for his pageant gowns and red carpet styles, Chandler is also credited with discovering actor Jason Momoa.
Mamoa called to express his love for Chandler and his family.
He also discovered Miss America 1992 Carolyn Sapp, international star and ambassador of Hawaii Aureana Tseu, Miss International Nadine Tanega Hogan and many others.
He is also credited for designing gowns for many beauty pageants and red carpet events, including the Emmy Awards; and dressed many local celebrities and Hawaii First Ladies.
He also produced countless fashion shows and special events, and was sought-out by top Waikiki hotels to do its Christmas decorations, including the Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Waikiki and Hilton Hawaiian Village.
His design awards include the prestigious Governor’s Designer of the Year. He was also featured in the national TV drama Miss America: Behind the Crown.
In 2014, he moved back to Washington state, where he continued to give back to the community, and directed a charity fashion show for Rainier State School, which he was very proud of.
In 2017, Chandler moved back to Hilo, where he enjoyed retirement and was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Eric was known for his outlandish humor and personality for those who loved and knew him well.
He was truly a local boy at heart, and embraced Hawaii’s melting pot of diverse ethnic groups. He also traveled with world, promoting Hawaii with the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau.
He made Hawaii his home, and chose to live and pass in paradise.
He is survived by lifetime partner Takeo and Chibi, their baby queen Pomeranian.
He also has a brother and sister who live in Washington.
Funeral services are pending.