March 15, 2011

Heard Indian Market 2011 - The Gaussoins

The Gaussoins: High Street Fashion Jewelry

As I was zipping around the booths at the Heard Indian Market, I came around the corner to see brothers Wayne Nez and David Gaussoin - two of Indian country's most avant-garde jewelry-makers.

The first thing out of my mouth was, "Where's the ribbons?!"

I was, of course, referring to the lack of blue ribbons (or any other color ribbons) on their table. I assumed they would have won something - an honorable mention at least. Come on.

David responded "We're too much for them Jessica! We're on the naughty list!"

But I'm biased. I've worked with the Gaussoins before (for MIAC's Native Couture II exhibit in Santa Fe). They were great to work with, and they know a surprisingly lot about the history of Native jewelry and fashion (I say 'surprisingly' because their jewelry seems so fresh - it departs greatly from the other Native jewelry that we have come to know - a.k.a. "Hello turquoise ring").

For my own selfish reasons, I hope they continue to show at the Heard Indian Market - I'm curious to see how many years it takes for the judges to catch up to them (Note: Excellence runs in the family - their mom is the amazing and award-wining jewelry-maker Connie Tsosie-Gaussoin).

The jewelry they brought with them to the Heard had a distinctive 'street vibe.' Not only did most of the pieces reference the street in some way, but they were also displayed on squares of black 'asphalt.' These guys are way ahead of the game. I mean, they totally just curated their booth space.

The piece they submitted to the jury for competition was an elaborate necklace made from the metal pieces that fall off of street-cleaners. You know those machines. They are loud and ugly, but the necklace is rather elegant and pretty, with long silver strips flowing away from the neck.

Other earrings, purse handles, and bracelets were cut from diamond plated steel. Another street reference, diamond plate is often used on stairs and catwalks in industrial settings (the added texture reduces the risk of slipping), but it is also used on the interior of ambulances and on the sides of firetrucks.

While they had many references to the street, their pieces are clearly high fashion - this stuff belongs on the runway.

Here are some images from their collection:

Check out their website at