Sunday, December 15, 2019

VIFW 2019 Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week: RED

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Written by Colleen Tsoukalas
Photos by Peter Jensen

Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week was an outstanding showcase of Indigenous Fashion Design, Art and Performance. I was fortunate to see the first one, here in Vancouver, in 2017. I also met many of these designers at IFWTO (Toronto) here.

When I heard that VIFW had set its dates for Nov. 18-23, I knew I had to get there. I couldn't make  the opening night, Nov. 18th, at The Orpheum, but when I saw the explosion of Social Media, particularly the photographs by Peter Jensen, I wanted to reshare the Red Dress dedication to the memory of the murdered and missing Indigenous Women. I also wanted to salute the Designers: Debra Sparrow, Evan Ducharme, Morgan Asoyuf, Lydia GardinerPam BakerPIQSIQ (Throat Singers) and Yolanda Skelton. As you will see, this night, as well as all of the other nights, were filled with outstanding displays of local and regional Indigenous talent, skills and achievement. Thanks to Joleen Mitton and her team, Indigenous Fashion Week is a strong, dynamic expression of enduring language, culture and creatives. The models, in all of the shows I have seen, are the Youth, strong, confident and well trained to be and share the rich legacy of who they are.

This first photo shows all of the Red Dresses that set the stage for a historic first night. Many of the audience wore red, raised fists, stood, to honor the memory of lost and murdered Indigenous Women.



Debra Sparrow is a Coast Salish Graphic Artist. Since 1983, she has been combining textile and Coast Salish Design through geometric, hand spun blankets and hangings. She also designs jewellery and murals. Her latest project: Blanketing the City, is a series of murals under the Granville Bridge and at Granville Island Market as well other sites across Vancouver.


Evan Ducharme is a Metis Designer, originally from Manitoba but now in Vancouver. He says, "I make clothes about our stories, our struggles and our happiness and joy."



Morgan Asoyuf is Tsm'syen from Northern B.C. A Blanche Macdonald Fashion Design Grad, she is also a Jewellery Designer, whose current work, Royal Portrait, salutes the Matriarchs, with gorgeous crowns and accessories and is on display at The Bill Reid Gallery, until January 2020.


NIPII Designs - Lydia Gardiner is a Cree Designer, from Saskatchewan, renowned for her bead work and ribbon skirts.


Pam Baker, is of Kwaguilth and Squamish ancestry and is located in North Vancouver. Her life long goal is to showcase Indigenous Arts and Culture and to provide a platform for others to do the same. Her TOC (Touch of Culture) showcases her designs (clothing, jewellery and art).



PIQSIQ - Sisters: Kayley Inuksuk and Tiffany Kuliktana Ayalik share their confusion with cultural identity, through songs via the challenging art of throat singing. Their name, PIQSIQ means storms, like those found in Nunavut, very unusual because during the storm, it looks like snow is falling back up to the sky.



Yolanda Skelton - Sugiit Lukxs Designs, is from the Gitxsan Nation and House of Hax-be-gwoo-txw of the Fireweed Clan. A textile Artist, she designs both traditional and contemporary styles. Her robes of power are one of a kind, functional, wearable Art.




This was an awe inspiring beginning to an extraordinary Indigenous Fashion Week. Each evening was expertly timed and beautifully showcased at The Orpheum, Queen Elizabeth Plaza and The Museum of Vancouver. Culture, Language, Music, Dance, Art and Design, completely welcoming, accessible and inclusive. As Yolanda Skelton says, "Red is the colour of our life's blood; it connects all human beings."

Once again, a big thank you to Joleen Mitton and team and to Peter Jensen, Photographer.

See more posts from Indigenous Fashion Week on Clothes Line Finds Facebook Page:


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