ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

‘First of its kind’: Indigenous fashion week coming to Salt Lake City

Apr 13, 2023, 6:00 AM

Rhianna Russell walks past Aldean Ketchum as he plays a flute during rehearsal for an upcoming Indi...

Rhianna Russell walks past Aldean Ketchum as he plays a flute during rehearsal for an upcoming Indigenous fashion show at the Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 9, 2023.

SALT LAKE CITY — Artist and designer Jessica Wiarda saw a gap as she observed different fashion weeks taking place in Utah.

“There was no Indigenous-specific fashion week this year. I was seeing all these other cultures represented, but Indigenous wasn’t there,” said Wiarda, who is Hopi/Tewa.

The realization came as Wiarda began wrapping up a yearlong artist in residency program through nonprofit Utah Diné Bikéyah and the Leonardo Museum. Instead of a farewell event celebrating just her residency, Wiarda decided to gather other Indigenous artists and models for Utah’s first Indigenous Fashion Week.

This year’s fashion week will consist of one night featuring work from artists representing half a dozen tribes — including Hopi, Navajo (Diné), Ute, Northern Ute, Apache and Anishinaabe Ojibwe — as well as a section featuring powwow regalia. But Wiarda hopes the show will be the start of an annual tradition.

“It just is going to get bigger and better,” she said, adding that the event is entirely Indigenous-led and -run.

“There are no stereotypes here; it’s just us as ourselves — and that’s why it’s a really important event,” she said. “It’s open to everybody and it’s a rare look into something that I feel like a lot of people are afraid to ask questions about because it’s such a marginalized community. We’re still here and we’re reclaiming our culture through fashion.”

Michael Haswood, a Diné artist who is helping organize the show, said although the event will very much be a modern fashion show, many of the pieces will incorporate traditional designs.

Please read Sydnee Gonzalez’ complete story on KSL.com.

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‘First of its kind’: Indigenous fashion week coming to Salt Lake City