On Sunday, August 21, the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) concluded its Santa Fe Indian Market festivities with the Indigenous Fashion Show. The venue was the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. This is the ninth year that Amber-Dawn Bear Robe (Siksika), produced the event. Bear Rose is an independent curator and art history professor at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Presented to a full house, the SWAIA runway featured new designs by Orlando Dugi (Navajo), Lauren Good Day (Arikara/Hidatsa/Blackfeet/Plains Cree), Skawennati (Mohawk), Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo), Sho Sho Esquiro (Kaska Dena/Cree), Jamie Okuma (Luiseño/Shoshone/Bannock), and duo Catherine Blackburn (Dene) and Melanie LeBlanc (Dene). The collections ranged from everyday to formal wear, and, in several instances, blurred together seamlessly to defy any rigid categories.
Dugi’s new line focused on men’s couture, blending hints of gothic and Venetian fashion with Japanese Aikido wear. The style juxtaposed white blouses with black draped pants and comfortable, sporty shoes. Dugi took chances with allowing athletic wear to comingle with formal ensembles. These reflect elegance and practicality that could easily be integrated into upscale events.
Sho Sho Esquiro
Esquiro’s focus put her own spin on business casual. She showcased a sage and tan women’s pantsuit that fit the model in a relaxed, yet sleek manner. She achieved this by allowing the jacket to fit a little loosely. T coupled with pants that featured an open seam at the calf. The effect is a mashup of sophistication and comfort that could readily be applied to social events or the workplace.
Michaels emphasized the need for semi-formality and loungewear in a push toward the everyday. In a women’s shirt and pants combination, she paired moccasins with an aqua long-sleeved blouse and black-and-white, wide-legged pants. The blouse features geometric patterns in layers of circles and lines, while the pants’ patterns evoke feathers and rain, creating a connection to the landscape.
These three artists reflect a desire in the current moment for a combination of stylish adornment with activewear. This approach lends itself to the flexibility of one wearing one of these multipurpose ensembles from the early day into the evening with ease. It also collapses the distance between the runway and everyday life.
Photographs by Michelle J. Lanteri, PhD.