Tuesday, April 25, 2017


David Gaussian + Wayne Nez Gaussian (Navajo / Picuris Pueblo), Postmodern Boa (2009) / #NativeFashionNow

'Diversity' in fashion waffles between ignorance in interpretation and shoddy stereotype, frequently missing the mark on 'true' cultural significance. For the American Indian, misappropriation of totem poles, feathered headdresses and 'Navajo' branded items more-often-than-not accentuates the misnomer of assumed understanding. This Spring, the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in NYC presents NativeFashion Nowa look at American Indian designers and their influence on fashion. Aptly expressed by Kathleen Ash-Milby, Associate curator at the museum,“We wanted people to see that Native designers are not just subjects but participants in the field of fashion." Keep reading to see more…

Exhibit entrance. dress by Orlando Dugi (Navajo) for his Desert Heat collection (2012)

Delving into divergent schools of thought (Native-inspired design versus work by Native American designers), Native American 'fashion' acclimates wearable art in an ever-evolving environment. With 70 works from 67 artists, NativeFashion Now showcases a range of Native communities and an artists’ choice of whether and how to represent their culture. Pathbreakers, Revisitors, Activators, and Provocateurs segment the viewer’s focus on expansion of tradition, technology and technique, stylistic symbolism and experimentation.

Installation view of 'PathBreakers: A New Dawn"

Originating at the Peabody Essex Museum in Boston, the exhibit has landed in its third and final venue. Karen Kramer, the show’s curator and curator of Native American and Oceanic art and culture at Peabody Essex Museum notes, “This exhibition really fills that pressing need for Native artists and designers to represent themselves, and represent their communities themselves and to celebrate their voice and creativity….; “it’s the fringe, it’s the beads, it’s the buckskin…. Contemporary Native fashion uses that as a platform, but then expands on that.” Beyond 'fringe and feathers,' technology--whether Social Media or access to high tech fabric and creative processes--has become a game-changer, allowing Native designers to elevate their design affinity, while keeping elements of traditional craft.

Installation view of a new take on traditional dress

Displaying an eclectic mix of items spanning 50 years, the exhibit projects a new perspective on individuality, amid a cohesive Native American culture. Native Fashion Now  is free and open to the public until September 4, 2017. Click here for details on how to visit, media coverage and associated events.

Kenneth Williams Jr. (Northern Arapaho and Seneca), He Was Iconic (2014)

Sho Sho Esquiro (Kaska Dene / Cree), Wile Wile Wile dress, Day of the Dead Collection (2013)

Installation view of 'Revisitors: Evolve, Reflect, Adapt, Repeat'

[L] D.Y. Besay (Navajo) Binighadziltl'oni serape (2012) / )[M] Juanita Lee (Kewa), dress + belt ('70) / [R] Margaret Wood (Navajo and Seminole), Bill blanket dress ('80s)

Jamie Okuma (Luiseno and Shoshone-Bannock), boots (2013-14); Glass beads on boots designed by Christian Louboutin

Pat Pruitt (Laguna Pueblo); Tahitian Bondage necklace and earrings (2008)

Layered leather piece

Mylar dresses by Wendy Ponca


Installation view of 'Provocateurs'

Installation view of 'Activators'

Stop by for a visit!

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