February 27, 2011

Donna Karan Collaborates with Australian Artist

(Nomad: Two Worlds photography exhibit)

Donna Karan does it again! -

Back in 2002, New York fashion giant Donna Karan collaborated with Cochiti fashion designer Virgil Ortiz to create garments that fused her tailoring with his pottery designs. Now, she has collaborated with artist Clifton Bieundurry, a Walmajarri artist from the central Kimberley region of Australia, on 10 one-of-a-kind batik-print cashmere-and-silk scarves.

(Donna Karan and Virgil Ortiz collaboration)

(Donna Karan/Clifton Bieundurry scarf)

The collaboration is part of a larger art exhibit called "Nomad: Two Worlds" which features the art of Australian photographer Russell James who partnered with Indigenous artists to create new works of art.

About the Nomad show, Karan said, "To experience the spirit of these people, to see and feel the craft and wisdom of their traditions, is to understand why we must bring their artistry to the world. We must illuminate, educate and raise awareness while cultures like this still exist."

The show is currently on display in Los Angeles, and Karan will speak in a panel discussion with UCLA professor Jessica Cattelino, and Richard Walley, a Noongar Indigenous Australian elder, on additional topics relating to the challenges faced by Native cultures in the modern world.

Some of the proceeds from sales will benefit Karan's UrbanZen foundation, which helps preserve Native cultures, among other endeavors.

There's two main reasons why I love Donna Karan. First, she collaborates with Indigenous artists and she names them. She doesn't do a generic "oh I'm inspired by the beautiful cultures of Native Americans." She collaborates with individuals, and she gives them credit. Secondly, she supports various programs and organizations that benefit Indigenous peoples. Many non-Native designers profit greatly from their Native-inspired collections, yet they never give back. They continue the colonial legacy of profitting from the packaging and selling of Native cultures. I hope other non-Native designers will follow Karan's lead.

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