April 29, 2010

Designer Profile | Mildred Carpenter

Mildred Carpenter

Mildred High Elk Carpenter is Minucoujou Lakota from the Great Cheyenne River Sioux Nation in Eagle Butte, SD. Married into the Crow Tribe, she currently lives in and operates her company, Mildj Native Fashion & Design, out of Lodge Grass, Montana.

Her clothing lines fuse Western wear and powwow chic with high fashion. Much of her designs are made from Pendleton material – presenting the blanket in fresh new ways on the runway. She has made a Pendleton sheath dress, mini skirts, fitted tops and cropped jackets.

Carpenter decided to start her own line in 2002-2003 with the encouragement of her husband. Her family continues to play an integral role in her fashion business – her daughter started a modeling group, another does photography, and her nephew does hair and make-up for the fashion events. She explained, “We are a family that works in the fashion industry and it is rewarding to have a team like ours be successful in Indian Country.”

Carpenter and her team have hosted fashion shows throughout the country - in large Native-owned Casinos, at universities, or in conjunction with powwows. They have also done shows at pageants, rodeos, hip hop shows, and drug and alcohol free events.

Mildj Native Fashion Designs have been featured in numerous publications including the Lakota Times, Billings Gazette, Navajo Times, Rapid City Journal, Idaho State Journal, Indian Country Today, and Say Magazine.

Carpenter wants her line to influence young people to "Dream, Believe, and Pursue.”

Her website [mildj.com] is currently under construction, but she can be contacted on MySpace or via email at mildjcarp@gmail.com

(all images below are my own - many thanks to the models for stopping and allowing me to snap some good shots)