“Native Fashion Now” opens Friday, Feb. 17, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York and features the work of 67 Native American designers. Image: Orlando Dugi (Dine [Navajo]), cape, dress, and headdress from “Desert Heat” collection, 2012. Silk, organza, feathers, beads, and 24k gold; feathers, beads, and silver; porcupine quills and feathers. Model: Julia Foster. Hair and makeup: Dina DeVore. Photo by Nate Francis/Unek Photography.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center in New York will host the final showing of the first large-scale traveling exhibition of contemporary Native American fashion, celebrating indigenous designers from across the United States and Canada, from the 1950s to today. “Native Fashion Now,” originally organized by the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., explores the exciting and complex realms where fashion meets art, cultural identity, politics and commerce.
The exhibition opens Friday, Feb. 17, during New York Fashion Week in the museum’s East Gallery and runs through Sept. 4.
Through nearly 70 works, “Native Fashion Now” explores the vitality of Native fashion designers and artists—from pioneering Native style-makers of the mid-20th century like Charles Loloma (Hopi Pueblo) to maverick designers of today such as Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo). The exhibition immerses visitors in all aspects of contemporary Native fashion—its concerns, modes of expression and efforts to create meaning through fashion. “Native Fashion Now” is the first show to emphasize the long-standing, evolving and increasingly prominent relationship between fashion and creativity in Native culture.
The exhibition’s four themes—Pathbreakers, Revisitors, Activators and Provocateurs—reflect how designers respond to ideas and trends in the world of Native fashion. All of the designers express their artistic agency, cultural identity and their unique personal perspective. “Native Fashion Now” is a dynamic, contemporary fashion scene that showcases both roots and cutting-edge, new paths. Runway footage, artist interviews and fashion photography communicate its immediacy throughout the exhibition.