May 17, 2011

Review | Fifth Annual Highland Native Leadership Council Fashion Show

Fifth Annual Native American Fashion Show Review
by guest post writer Cheyenne Beardsley

I attended the “Fifth Annual Native American Fashion Show” held at the UNM Continuing Education Building on March 24th, 2011. The event was sponsored by the Highland Native American Leadership Council.

This was only the second Native fashion event I have ever attended. When I first arrived right at 6pm when the show was supposed to start there were not many people there. However when the show started one of the MC’s mentioned that usually people trickle in as the show progresses and sure enough by the end there were a lot more seats filled.

One thing I noticed right off the bat was that most of the MC’s were young people—high school age mostly. I thought that really reflected an investment in youth and leadership from the people who were running the show.

The show included four main designers who were Shayne Watson, Shirley Pino, the Glacsy Company, and lastly Penny Singer. There were over thirty models, including men, women, and children who were showing off the designer’s work. The show began with pieces by various designers and the first category was “Traditional”. It was a man’s traditional outfit but unfortunately I didn’t catch which tribe the outfit was from. The MC said the outfit was meant to reflect a “proud heritage in the US marine corps”. Following that was a woman’s traditional outfit from the Potawatomie tribe. It was inspired from the 1930s era and I noticed it included a lot of floral designs.

The first designer, Shayne Watson (an award-winning designer), had really beautiful pieces. I think his designs were my favorite. His models wore contemporary pieces inspired by traditional designs from the Navajo and Potawatomie tribes and Santo Domingo Pueblo. His outfits included broom skirts, velvet and silk tops, silver beads, evening wear, and my favorites Pendleton jackets with hoods. I want to buy one of those!

The second designer up was Shirley Pino. The first models to come out modeling her designs were two little Cowboys wearing western style clothing that was according to the MC “inspired by George Strait”. I liked that she had designs for men, women and children. Some of her most interesting pieces were her men’s pieces, such as the shoulder collar with feathers. I had never seen anything like that, but it seemed very Native couture. I also really liked one of her male feast shirts that had “rasta” colors (red, yellow, and green). The description given for that shirt was that it was for an “unafraid” Pueblo man to wear—unafraid to express a unique style I’m guessing.

Next was the Glacsy Company which seemed to be a conglomerate of various designers rather than just one. Most of the Glacsy designs were really modern. Many of there weren’t obviously tied to traditional designs, but they were all by Native designers I believe. Lastly there was Penny Singer. Her designs incorporated a lot of animal motifs and she seemed to draw inspiration from a lot of sources. She had things such as a ribbon shirt inspired by turquoise jewelry, a vest that was inspired by “goats that love corn”, a butterfly vest, a ribbon shirt with the Steelers logo, and a jacket inspired by a Navajo rug.

Fashion shows are not necessarily something I would normally go to just for fun, but I’m glad we had to for this class because I really enjoyed it and I think I might go again next year if I get the chance. I think my favorite part was seeing the multitude of ways in which Native designers are expressing their creativity and reflecting their culture and traditions through their clothing designs.