A sea of red opened Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week 2022.
The red dress was the theme of opening night and attendees were asked to wear the colour in remembrance of MMIWG2S.
Musqueam elder Cecilia Pointe opened the evening with a traditional welcome. Lorelei Williams, who was also MC with Mandy Nahanee, sang the Warrior Women Song while her team who go in search of missing women, girls, and two-spirit people, held photos of the loved ones they had lost. Behind them, a procession of models in red dresses stood on the second-floor balcony and as they raised their fists in the air. The emotion in the room was palpable. It was a powerful and important start to a week that celebrated Indigenous excellence through fashion and performance.
Squamish and Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw fashion designer Himikalas Pamela Baker joined Cree model Joleen Mitton as a co-producer of VIFW this year along with 32 Indigenous designers who displayed an incredible array of talent that included menswear, regalia, formal gowns, casual coordinated sets, and stunning party outfits all of which incorporated designs and art from different nations.
Yolonda Skelton of Sugiit Lukxs Designs covered all of the above in her runway show on opening night. One of her standout pieces was an open-back eagle top made of metal discs that's wings wrapped around the model's lower back. She had Jules Koostachin director of the residential school documentary WaaPake in the show walking with her mother Rita and her son Asivak. Skelton worked on the costume design and regalia making for the film.
Every night had a different theme
Each night had a different theme. Night two was All My Relations where designers like Heather Bouchier played around with textiles, opting to use traditional materials such as horsehair, dentalium and smoked moose hide.
And on night three, Indigenous Future, Mitton, who also manages the basketball team All My Relations (AMR), walked the runway with fellow teammates as part of a collaboration with Oka Fashion and AMR. The team won the championship at this year’s All Native Basketball Tournament and the fashion which took inspiration from their uniforms was a celebration on the catwalk.
Musqueam Indian Band elder Shane Pointe began the final night, themed "Spirit Of The West Coast," with a traditional welcome and message for the youth, followed by an Indigenous dance by the Coast Salish family group of singers, dancers, and drummer called Tsatsu Stalgayu, which translates to Coastal Wolf Pack.
The first designs to take the runway were by Debra Sparrow which saw woven textiles and designs. An Indigenous spinning machine was placed in the middle of the runway to close the show, with a model briefly spinning yarn in front of the audience. Designers Kaylyn Baker, JB the First Lady, and Rebecca Baker-Grenier followed after.
A performance from SNRK introduced the latter half of the show, including designers Tishna Marlowe, Ay Lelum, D'Arcy Moses and headliner Pam Baker.
The final show of the night opened with a series of designs with Orca visuals, a symbol of protection and community. The first look astonished the audience twice as the model revealed the full design down the runway. The closing model wore an Eagle headdress with a detailed gown.