On Feb. 16, Schema interns attended the Ravens, Eagles, Polka Dots fashion show at Skwachàys Lodge. The collection was a collaboration between Dahlia Drive and Reg Davidson. It was wonderful to be at Skwachàys Lodge and see clothes with Indigenous designs worn by models of Aboriginal heritage. The clothes were brought to life by some gorgeous models who varied in age and body type.
After the show, I had the pleasure of speaking with some of the models.
Joleen Mitton is a model and business owner. She owns ALL MY Relations Entertainment and produces fashion shows, including this one.
Joleen became aware of Dahlia Drive clothing when Wendy reached out to her. As a model with Cree heritage, she was glad to hear that the collection was a collaboration with respected Haida artist, Reg Davidson.
“There are a lot of people who steal our art. You don’t have to steal it; you can work with us. As long as you work with us, we’ll work with you. And we can make something beautiful, like today.”
The fashion show wasn’t just a platform for Reg’s art or Wendy’s garments, it was also a showcase for the models. The models had Native heritage, were different ages, and had varying body types. Joleen’s casting of the models was apt and inclusive. It was an opportunity for First Nations art to be represented ethically as Joleen explained that oftentimes, First Nations art is misappropriated.
Additionally, Joleen feels a sense of purpose when modelling clothes that feature Haida Gwaii art. She wants Vancouver to become a fashion hotspot and hopes to bring Native art and fashion to mainstream audiences. She supports Native designers such as Sho Sho Esquiro, Alano Edzerza, Pam Baker, and Dorothy Grant.
The second model that Schema interviewed was Jennifer Preston.
“I’m just really happy that there’s a lot more Aboriginal fashion and we get to have our Aboriginal models come out,” she says of the fashion show.
Jennifer is a fan of the bustle dress, which has the option of being gathered up in the back. The bustle dress can be also layered over a bathing suit or pencil skirt depending on the occasion.
Joy Chalmers’ involvement in the show draws from her belief that art and fashion promote positive aspects of Aboriginal culture. Bringing awareness to Aboriginal culture is important to Joy, as is her work with Pacific Association for First Nations Women (PAFNW). The association promotes Aboriginal culture to children, brings elders together, and finds work for Aboriginal women.
Joy manages a home-care agency which employs First Nations women around the community. Her fellow colleague and model, Ruth Alfred, is an elder support worker at PAFNW.
Joy Chalmers likes that the Dahlia Drive collection can fit any body type at any age. “It’s ageless because a 16-year-old can wear it, a 63-year-old can wear it, anyone can wear it and it still looks really beautiful.”
Overall, the reoccurring comments by models were that the garments were practical, chic, and elegant.
To find out more about the Ravens, Eagles, Polka Dots designer, Wendy Van Riesen, click here for Fatima Ahmed’s interview.