Aboriginal Fashion in Edmonton

'I Heart' newbie Julia Horn takes in Alberta's most established Fashion Week event and discovers a new admiration for Aboriginal-inspired couture

BY JULIA HORN

Western Canada Fashion Week is the longest-running
fashion event in Western Canada, and helps promote local
to international designers. Photo by Ben Chen. 
ANOTHER Western Canada Fashion Week took place in Edmonton last month from September 13-20. The great thing about this event is that it offers opportunities to young and local designers. At WCFW they have the chance to present their collections, make contacts, and probably get discovered by a famous company. Our fashion week was full of talented newcomers, like the alumni of the Fashion Design Program at Marvel College (MC College).

The twelve young women presented their final collections at the Graduation Fashion Show at TransAlta Arts Barns on Thursday, September 13. The young designers showed a great variety of styles and ideas. The collection "Ruff and Honors" by Kaylah Emily Prakash appears as strong, confident and almost dark with its features like studs and corsetry. Sarah DenOtter presented a fun, fresh and feminine collection named "Wild Harmony" that focuses on free spirited women. But one collection attracted my attention more than every other.

Jaime Morin Poitra's collection "Little Pieces" consists of a mixture of rich Aboriginal culture and innovative trends. Her most important influence was her Native American culture, because she feels a tight bond to the Enoch Reservation, where she was raised. Jaime was born in Edmonton, but raised on the reserve. The Stony Plain 135 Indian Reserve on the western edge of the city of Edmonton belongs to the First Nations band Enoch Cree Nation. The Aboriginal culture and traditions are alive there and influence the inhabitants in a very positive way. That is probably what makes the collection "Little Pieces" so authentic and special.


The most significant parts of Jaime's clothes are Navajo prints and fabrics such as suede. Her collection really creates that atmosphere of a close bond to nature like the First Nations have, and that is a great topic for a fashion collection.

In the future, Jaime wants to show people how the First Nations culture can be a motivation for fashion as well. So far it was mostly used as inspiration in the field of art. Lawrence Beaulieu, an artist who was born and raised since the age of eight in Edmonton, always uses Aboriginal art to get ideas. With that he was really successful. His work was on display at the Winter Olympics in Calgary in 1988, and at the moment he's working on his book Life and Art.

Aboriginal culture has become more present and valued throughout the last century and is still increasing. The St. Joseph Catholic High School started to offer a Cree language course this year and is greatly approved by the students. We should all show more interest in the Aboriginal culture, a closer look to Aboriginal fashion is especially worth it, and like this we can help Jaime "to inspire other Aboriginal youth to look at fashion for a goal in life."

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