May 8, 2013 - Natives Taking Fashion World by Storm -Danielle Miller
Natives are taking the Fashion World by Storm
By: Danielle Miller
Patricia Michaels took the fashion world by storm during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week 2013 in New York.
Drawn inspiration from trees, her collection was ripe with innovation and cultural heritage. From the delicacy of feathers, to coarse horse hair, her collection offered a plethora of unique silhouettes. Michaels, of Taos Pueblo tribe, earned her spot in fashion week by competing on Season 11 of the Lifetime television program, “Project Runway”.
During the show, judges on Project Runway described her designs as “intriguing”, “pure” and “outside the box”.
Although Michaels did not win the competition, she expressed her appreciation to have had the opportunity, and she was voted fan favorite by viewers.
Designer Zac Posen, one of the judges, has asked Michaels to collaborate on a textile project, the Associated Press reported. Her work will also be the subject of a retrospective for the Smithsonian Institution. Michaels is also working on a new collection for New York Fashion Week this September.
Michael’s journey is representative of many other Native American designers who are breaking boundaries with their unique cultural perspectives and making emergence into the contemporary world of fashion.
Jessica Metcalfe is another Native American designer who promotes the Indigenous influence in fashion with her website “Beyond Buckskin”. Launched In May 2012, Beyond Buckskin was the first ever Native American-operated online store specializing in Native-made fashion, jewelry, and accessories. Beyond Buckskin empowers and promotes the talents and creativity of Native American designers.
Through the Facebook boutique, fans can enter giveaways and purchase authentic Native American creations. They can also learn about cultural events and other discourse such as the evolution of Native American fashion or the controversy of cultural appropriation.
All items sold are hand-selected by Beyond Buckskin author, Jessica R. Metcalfe, Ph.D. (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) and represent a variety of styles, regions, and price ranges. Among many creations, even some of Patricia Michael’s designs can be purchased through the site. “A primary mission of the Boutique is to bring Native fashion to the forefront and reclaim the label ‘Native American’ in fashion. Now is the time to refocus the attention back to the Native artists who produce fashion, jewelry and accessories.” –Beyond Buckskin
Reclaiming the Native American Image is not only an action which will leave a mark on history and the fashion industry, it is also an action which will challenge all of society with the symbolic assertion of Native American Identity.
Beyond Buckskin allows anyone the opportunity to shares the excitement of Native American designers making history with their innovation and Patricia will certainly continue to change the fashion world with her collection in September.
Danielle Miller (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate) is 23 years old student at the University of North Dakota majoring in Communications and Indian Studies.