- Category: news
- Created: Monday, 09 September 2013 14:47
- Published: Monday, 09 September 2013 14:47
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By Kerry Benjoe, Leader-Post
It was seven years in the making, but one Regina resident has taken First Nation fashion global.
"It was overwhelming," said Chelsa Reil, co-director of Couture Fashion Week in New York. "I was busting at the seams. I was so happy."
At exactly Friday at 6 p.m., powwow music blared from the speakers and three powwow dancers performed on the catwalk in New York during one of the most prestigious events in the fashion world.
"It went amazing," Reil said Saturday morning from her New York hotel room. "As soon as the dancers came out and some of the models came out, everybody's cameras went up. I was watching from the balcony up top and was taking video."
To be part of the show was a dream come true for the local fashionista.
"The best part of it all was to watch it all come to life," Reil said. "I had tears in my eyes to see the reaction of other people as they watched the show."
Although she is not a fashion designer, she loves fashion and knew there was a niche for First Nations designers.
About seven years ago, Reil began networking with those in the industry and two years ago she launched National Aboriginal Fashion Week in Regina.
Launching her show in Regina was just the beginning. Last year she began looking for other shows to partner with and was both surprised and ecstatic that Andres Aquino, director of Couture Fashion Week was interested in partnering with Reil for a show.
He invited her to New York to help co-direct his show and as part of the partnership she was able to invite three First Nation designers to showcase their work.
Reil said Sho Sho Esquiro, Lynda Kay Peters of Ringing Bell Robes and Linda Lavallee of Cree Nisga'a designs stole the show. "They were swarmed after the show by media, by people in the audience and by the other models," said Reil. "The next show started at 8 p.m. and the designers and models were still on the red carpet doing interviews."
She chose the three designers not only because of their ability to be cutting edge in terms of fashion, but the fact that culture is incorporated in all that they do.
Lavallee wanted to pay tribute to her heritage, which is why the powwow dancers were part of the opening ceremonies for the event.
Prior to the show, the designers prayed and they smudged themselves, which is a traditional First Nations cleansing ceremony.
Then before the models hit the stage, the lead powwow dancer blew an eagle whistle in the four directions as a way to honour First Nations culture, said Reil.
She said it was great to be able to show the world what First Nations people have to offer.
Reil said her work is far from over and is staying in New York this week to help plan another fashion show.
She said next year's Aboriginal Fashion Week in Canada will be even better because of all that she's learned in New York.