‘The whole fashion business has changed’: N.W.T. designer helping train Indigenous artists

Fashion is no longer about runways and shows, says D’Arcy Moses, and that’s good news for emerging indigenous designers.

Moses, an artist from Dene of Pehdzeh Ki First Nation in NWT, has spent over 25 years building a reputation as a northern stylist.

She is now preparing to conduct a fashion residency at the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity in Alberta, where she will teach indigenous textile artists how to design and make patterns for haute couture: high-end fashion.

It is part of a series of seven workshops planned over three years in which he will pass on the decades of knowledge he has accumulated, along with other traditional craftsmen and senior guests.

“It means a lot… just being able to share knowledge – and I know there’s a lot of interest from First Nations across Canada and the US who want to get into fashion,” she said.

Those future designers should know the fashion industry isn’t what it once was, Moses said: Social media platforms and online sales have revolutionized a line of work famous for its dazzling fashion shows, expensive publications. and magazine collections.

In many ways, the industry is more accessible than ever.

“The whole fashion industry has changed,” she said. “Today it is almost easier than it was many years ago … I would just like to encourage young people to use the tools at hand, which is the Internet.”

Contemporary and traditional

Moses is entering his fourth year of designing full-time at his store in Enterprise, NWT Like many companies, his slowed down just as the pandemic began, but is now expanding the bags side of his business.

He can’t wait to get back to tan skins this spring.

“Most of them come from my relatives in Wrigley – there are a lot of moose and [caribou]”He said. His family leaves the skins of the animals they pick up on their doorstep as they walk through the Enterprise, and they have a couple that just need to be soaked, ironed and smoked.

It receives many requests for moose leather bags and vests, he noted, from people who want that link to their heritage.

“There is a whole renaissance of young people now that they are returning to traditional arts and crafts, but in a more contemporary way,” he said.

High fashion

The first program Moses teaches at the Banff Center runs from March 7-26. Other sessions will cover vests, ribbon skirts, bags and more.

Moses said he received a lot of interest from people to participate before the deadline ran out this week.

In an email, Reneltta Arluk, director of the center for indigenous leadership, said that the intersection of traditional materials and processes and contemporary fashion is what makes the program important.

“[Moses] he has been doing it competently for many years and we are thrilled to bring his skills in this committed way, ”Arluk wrote.

Moses said it is important to note that the center has offered scholarships for indigenous applicants to cover the costs of tuition, meals and accommodation.

“It’s just to get as many people [as possible] involved throughout his process, “he said.

The Banff Center said there were 10 places in the program and all indigenous participants would be offered a full scholarship.

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