Content warning: brief mention of displacement of Indigenous Peoples
Hey everyone! This week, I wanted to switch gears a little bit and explore one of my interests through the blog, and that is fashion! I have always been fascinated by the world of fashion and how we can use it as a tool for self-expression and representation. For this first post (in what I would like to become an Indigenous Fashion series!), I wanted to explore a major, contemporary Indigenous figure within the fashion industry. And who better to start with than Han Gwich’in-Ogala Lakota model Quannah Chasinghorse?!
Quannah Chasinghorse is a pioneer for the fashion industry and truly taking the world by storm, with her utmost dedication to seamlessly bridging together her career with her activism. She is a self-described Eco-Warrior and Land Defender, and she has been advocating for climate justice, Indigenous sovereignty, and MMIW since her youth.
Her commitment to advocating for her community and Indigenous Peoples everywhere is incredibly inspirational, and this politic of hers is showcased throughout her work as a model. Thus, I thought it would be a super fun idea to go through some of her most notable looks and highlight the Indigenous designers, weavers, and beaders that Chasinghorse supports!
1. The Met Gala (2021)
This gorgeous look marked Chasinghorse's very first appearance at the annual Met Ball, where she challenged the theme "In America: The Lexicon of Fashion." Chasinghorse has gone on record to say that she used this opportunity to commemorate her Han Gwich’in and Ogala Lakota heritage, rather than to celebrate America or any American historical legacies. This was a courageous choice, and it was only emphasized by Chasinghorse wearing silver and turquoise Navajo jewellery from her aunt, Jocelyn Billy-Upshaw, a former Miss Navajo Nation winner. This was a beautiful display of Chasinghorse honouring her family and nation, and an extremely bold Met Gala premiere.
2. Vogue Mexico (2021)
Chasinghorse's vibrant Vogue cover debut opened more doors for her to celebrate Indigeneity and Indigenous fashion. In her interview with Vogue, she reaffirmed the importance of Indigenous visibility within the media, and specifically, within the fashion world. This cover also features earrings from the contemporary Tanana Athabaskan artist, Melanie Titus or "Melanie from Minto." You can view and support her work here!
3. The Met Gala (2022)
It comes to no surprise that this captivating look went viral during the 2022 Met Gala. The theme for the year was "Gilded Glamour," inspired by the Gilded Age in New York during the 1870s-1890s. While this was a period of "economic expansion" for settler populations, it was at the detriment and displacement of Indigenous Peoples all over Turtle Island. This is why Chasinghorse's implementation of Indigenized "Gilded Glamour" is so vital — it both challenges the very idea of the "Gilded Age" in its existence, and it serves as a reminder that Indigenous Peoples are still very much present, resisting colonial ideals, and thriving within their communities. Chasinghorse's look featured astonishing accessories from Lenise Omeasoo, a Blackfeet and Cree designer. Omeasoo's beautiful work can be seen and supported here!
4. The Green Carpet Fashion Awards (2023)
This last look was one that I immediately fell in love with because of all of the subtle but very significant and detailed accessories! This was at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, where Chasinghorse served (and slayed) as a cochair for the show. Her incorporation of Indigenous pieces, specifically for an event that honours sustainable fashion innovations, points towards the importance of highlighting Indigenous sustainability within the fashion industry. Her accessories for this look featured a beaded bracelet by Kaylyn Baker, a Northern Tutchone and Tlingit artist, who you can support here! She also featured earrings by Ame Manon, a Mazahua-Nahua-Osage beader, who you can support here! To top it all off, she wore moccasins that were handmade by her grandmother, Adeline Juneby Potts.
I am very excited to continue supporting Quannah Chasinghorse and seeing the amazing new heights that her intellect, passion, dedication, and beauty take her! Also, stay tuned for more fashion-oriented blog posts in the future!
Author: Misha, ITMP Blog Coordinator
Photo Credits, in order of appearance: Evan Benally Atwood via Atmos Earth, Taylor Hill via Wire Image, Inez & Vinoodh via Vogue, Getty Images, Keri Oberly via Vogue