Yesterday I went to an amazing photo shoot.
Jewelry designer Wabanoonkwe Cameron-Hernandez of Turquoise Soul invited me to meet up with her for a behind-the-scene look at her latest stuff, and of course I jumped at the opportunity. Designers Sho Sho Esquiro and Virgil Ortiz were also bringing their gear.
Photographer Thosh Collins was shooting, and Wabanoonkwe’s younger sister Miigwaans was modeling, along with Winnipeg-based model Amberae Wood and Navajo ‘mixing legend’ Matt Manymules (aka DJ Young Native).
I love doing ‘behind-the-scenes’ posts, because it gives readers a chance to see all of the effort that goes into Native fashion (and fashion in general). Not only is there a lot of prep work, but when the ball actually gets rolling, it’s a lot more work!
What really stuck out for me was the fact that this shoot was such an awesome collaboration – everyone pitched in where they could (as you’ll see in the pictures below). So, a model became an assistant, a designer became a hairstylist, a photographer became a set designer, and a DJ became a model. But it was all so natural. When it comes to this world, you have to wear many hats. And this crew does it well.
You’ve probably heard me say this before, but I know I don’t say it enough – I have so much respect for Native fashion designers.
Not only do they produce objects that are aesthetically cool, but they also have amazing skills in producing items that look good on the body (and you know all of us have different body shapes!) and the clothes and jewelry look great in motion (to produce something that looks good when it moves requires an intimate understanding of movement). This takes a unique combination of talents acquired through years of experience, trial and error, and taking risks when it comes to creativity.
In addition, these guys (and gals!) spend hours upon hours designing this stuff, then, when a collection is complete they spend hours upon hours prepping for fashion shows and getting models ready for photoshoots. THEN, they spend hours upon hours selling their work at events like the Gathering of Nations (this weekend in Albuquerque!). Thank goodness awesome individuals exist who step up and support each other with collabs like this.
Below are the sneak peek images. It is important to note that these are amateur/candid shots. Once you see Thosh's photos, you will be blown away at the sheer talent that this guy has. In addition, I have so much respect for the models. It was cold and windy, and it was a long day of switching locations. They never complained, and they helped out a great deal (all the while keeping a fun and playful attitude while they were pinned, dressed, and had their hair and make-up done and re-done). They rocked out the gear with great poses and positive energy, and I can't wait to see the final images.
(Miigwaans wears a red Virgil Ortiz dress at scenic Tent Rocks National Monument)
(On location - hiking to great sites and dodging cow patties)
(Thosh giving direction)
(Matt practices his Magnum look, while Wabanoonkwe styles Amberae's hair)
(And on to the lashes! Insider glue secrets revealed. We all refuel with coffee. This was about 5 hours into the shoot.)
(Matt rocks the Sho Sho zipper hoodie and beaded cap)
(Sho Sho gear)
(Loooong Turquoise Soul Indian Bling)
(Great shoots are all about the right photographer, the right designer, and the right model getting the right angles, the right lighting, and the right background)
(Amberae with a purple jacket by Sho Sho and white Turquoise Soul beaded earrings)
(Virgil Ortiz fixes up model Amberae while the rest of the crew helps out)
If you're in the ABQ region for GON, check out the upcoming fashion show featuring the designs of Sho Sho Esquiro and Wabanoonkwe Cameron-Hernandez!: