The culmination of Idyllwild Arts’ annual week-long Native American Arts Festival will be, for the first time, a Native American Fashion Show at 7 p.m. Friday, July 5, in the Idyllwild Arts Foundation Theatre.
The show’s producer, Dr. Jessica Metcalfe, assembled 10 of the top Native American designers for the show. A Turtle Mountain Chippewa, she combined native art, education, story telling and anthropology — a new concept — into her master’s thesis. Further research led her to a doctorate in Native American fashion.
Last year she launched an online store, Beyond Buckskin Boutique, bringing 30 designers together and more than 300 items. Dr. Metcalfe’s lecture on Native American fashion was Wednesday, July 3 on campus.
Another nationally known designer is Patricia Michaels, current star and second-place runner up on Lifetime’s popular reality TV series, “Project Runway,” season 11, who will show her line. Michaels, a member of the Taos Pueblo, gained instant fame and is in much demand. The Smithsonian Museum will hold a retrospective show of her designs in October.
Dorothy Grant, a Canadian from the Haida aboriginal group, has been an artist and designer since 1993. She is known for combining myth with fabric. Museums around the world display her art and designs. Grant’s Feastwear label includes gowns to tuxedos, while her Red Raven label is less expensive and trendier.
The fashion show will lead with Alano Edzerra’s street-wear designs followed by couture designs by Consuelo Pascual, Pilar Agoyo, David Gaussoin, Bethany Yellowtail, Patricia Michaels and Dorothy Grant, with jewelry by Kristen Dorsey and Wayne Nez Gaussoin, and purses by Maya Stewart.
The idea of bringing non-traditional Native American fashion designers together who are leaders in their field fits with the theme for the week, “Continuum“ according to Heather Companiott, Idyllwild Arts Native Arts Program director.
“Their work reflects their own personal heritage while exploring exciting new directions in contemporary fashion,” Companiott said, who is now involved with her 23rd summer program.
“When I started, the festival centered on the classes. In 2000 we added free lectures and performances to encourage more participation from the tribes and community,” she said. “Now local tribes help fund the program. In the past the classes were mainly filled with non-native students, now native students are in every class.”
The Cahuilla Bird Singers will kick off the fashion show. All the daily events are free and feature tribal elders, visiting scholars and artists who will explore a wide range of topics on “Continuum.” Visit: Idyllwild arts.org/summer.