Last month, I was invited to host the 2nd Annual Nizhoni Arts Market Invitational Fashion Showcase in Window Rock, AZ! If you would have asked me a couple of years ago, if I would ever host a fashion show, or let alone get up on a stage and speak to total strangers, I would have said NO! Hahahaha! However, from styling fashion shows, to being part of the audience, and coordinating a fashion show in college, it seemed fitting that hosting a fashion show would be next! I was so used to being behind the scenes of a fashion show, I had to convince my introverted extroverted self to say YES to this opportunity and I was sooo happy I did!
The fashion show was a two day event on the second Friday and Saturday of September and took place at the 70th Annual Navajo Nation Fair (NNF) in Gorman Hall in Window Rock, AZ. It showcased a variety of Native fashion designers representing their unique takes on fashion. I was excited to be there, it had been 10 or so years, since I had been to the Window Rock Navajo Nation Fair. Yeah… it had been that long! Although not much had changed since then, the spirit of the people and smell of mutton roasting in the air fueled my day. Also everyone was dressed in their fair best! From the tiniest of tots to the effortlessly chic grandmas and grandmas decked out in turquoise.
So now to the exciting part! The designers!!!! The way the designers were shown was a progression of Native fashion throughout the years, starting with more traditional Native fashion which transitioned into more modern day looks. The show included Navajo fashion designers Mae Mallahan, Genevieve Hardy, Dine Couture, Jennifer James, and Suite JSG. Crow designer, Designs by Della and Acoma Pueblo designer, ACONAV also dazzled everyone with their unique designs! There was a variety of styles to keep the audience entertained.
Part of my hosting duties required, that I took a little bit of time before each show to get to know each of the designers. It was so enlightening to hear their stories and how they get their inspiration for their designs. They welcomed me into their creative spaces and even let me wear a few of their fancy designs for the show!! I had a total of 4 outfit changes!! I am the Fancy Navajo right??? Hahaha!! I was so honored to share the stage with these talented designers!! I encourage everyone to check them out on their social media sites and to buy from these talented Native designers.
Since I was hosting the show I was unable to take pictures of the event, so I asked a few of the photographers who were at the event if I could use their photos for this post. Thanks photographers! They did such a wonderful job. I like seeing all of their different perspectives of the show! You will have to let me know your favorite photographer. Also which designer is your favorite!
- Mae Mallahan (Navajo)
- Mae’s designs were classic Navajo style silhouettes blended with hints of modern day fashion. Her signature designs included the Navajo basket design that grace the hems of her designs. I really liked the colors and fabric choices. I love the floral prints of the dress below. It is very soft and romantic, a modern twist on the classic Native Grandma floral print and pleated skirts.
- You can find Mae on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mae.mallahan.7
- Genevieve Hardy (Navajo)
- Genevieve is a talented fiber artist! She weaves traditional Navajo rug dresses, that are so intricate and beautiful!! I really enjoyed how she transformed the traditional rug dress into modern day fashion, with her woven camisoles with a corset like backing. When I saw this, I was in awe by this creation! I need one of those as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I did not find a picture of this lovely top, but the rug dress below is so beautiful!
- You can find Genevieve on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/genevieve.hardy.980
- Dine Couture – Michelle Silver (Navajo)
- Michelle transforms your typical Pendelton dress into jaw dropping couture designs. She combines leather and Pendelton fabric, to make the most flowy dresses out of some of the most dense fabrics so effortlessly. I had no idea you could drape wool and leather so beautifully. These dresses are definitely for the bold and fierce!
- Designs by Della – Della Bighair-Stump (Crow Nation)
- I fell in love with Della who came from the Crow Nation of Montana to be at the show. Her colorful creations take you to such a happy place. Her intricately placed geometric designs, fringe, elk teeth, and high quality wool are every gal’s dream!! My favorite of her pieces was a blush wool shawl that transformed into a skirt!!! Della also let me wear one of her dresses for the show. It had sequins and was a dreamy pastel color with a gorgeous belt which represented the belts sun dancers wear.
- You can find Della on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/designsbydella/
- Instagram https://www.instagram.com/designsby_della/
- Jennifer James (Navajo)
- Jennifer had a blend of traditional and modern Navajo styles. I really like how her garments showed off feminine silhouettes, which can often be a daunting task when working with velvet like fabrics. Her signature designs were vertical pleats which move your eyes away from traditional horizontal pleats. She also let me wear one of her gorgeous designs. A form fitting gray velvet top and skirt that were so comfy and stylish!!
- You can find Jennifer on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/choshjames
- ACONAV – Loren Aragon (Acoma Pueblo)
- If you follow me on other social media channels, then you know I am basically the ultimate ACONAV fan. It was so great to see Loren show his couture designs at the NNF. He opened his show with Acoma Pueblo Enchantment dancers who blessed the stage with the buffalo dance. You can watch it on YouTube here. Loren’s designs are aesthetically pleasing to the eye with all of the geometric designs and the soft silk fabric. Loren let me wear his Silk Scarf dress which was an empowering red color that made me feel like I could conquer anything! ACONAV will also be taking the stage this Saturday (October 7th) at Phoenix Fashion Week in Scottsdale, AZ. If you are in the area, check it out and support Native Fashion.
- You can find Loren on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ACONAV/
- Instragram https://www.instagram.com/aconav/?hl=en
- Website https://www.aconav.com/
- Suite JSG (Navajo) – Sherwin Gishy and JR Dumarce (Navajo)
- This duo of fashion designers really know how to make fabric flow! I really enjoyed the simple silhouettes and the vibrant colors of their dresses. I could imagine a top model wearing these designs on the streets of New York. My favorite was this kimono style dress.
- You can find Suite JSG on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/suite.jsg
I had so much hosting the show and met so many fabulous designers, models, DJ’s, photographers and fellow fancy Navajo’s. Thank you to the sponsors of this event, the Navajo Nation Fair Committee, the Navajo Nation Gaming Department, the Navajo Nation Museum, and Marco Arviso Jewelry. It was so wonderful to see a space for all these creative fashion designers and models to showcase their work and I was so happy to back on the Navajo Nation!! I can’t wait for next year!
Also a huge THANK YOU to Marco Arviso for all of his hard work in coordinating this event. I had so much fun working with him and I hope to work with him again soon. Go check out his jewelry! https://www.marcoarviso.com
Which were your favorite designers? Let me know in the comments!