By Cynthia Arnold~
There is a new generation of Native designers and models creating a fashion renaissance on runways, in top fashion magazines, across the Internet and in specialty stores. Today’s Native designers and models are expanding their creations and breaking the mode of all styles of designs within the fashion world.
“You don’t have to be Native American to buy Native American garments,” explains Norma Baker-Flying Horse, owner of Red Berry Woman, “just be sure the garments are truly created by a Native American designer.” If there is no designer name or is for sale at a mall or national retailer, chances are it’s not authentic, she adds.
Red Berry Woman designs vary from Native American traditional garment styles into elegant, contemporary couture attire for both men and women. Her inspiration for designing clothing originates from her cultural background as well as her love for fashion. As a member of the Hidatsa Tribe of the Mandan, Hidatsa & Mandan Nation (MHA) Nation, as well as the Dakota Sioux and Assiniboine Tribes, she grew up making cultural attired based on the teachings of how to sew and bead from her mother and grandmother. She often incorporates elaborate beading and designs symbolizing nature, families or even societies and clans within the tribe.
Her designs have walked the runways of Paris Fashion Week, Dress to Kilt – a fundraiser for The Navy Seal Foundation hosted by Steven Seagal in NYC as well as the Vancouver Fashion Week. Even more impressive, she plans to honor the memory of her daughter who passed away 23 days after birth due to the Trisomy 18 condition.
Red Berry Woman is a powerhouse, a mother, serves as a government staffer for the MHA Nation, owner of Red Berry Woman and making strides to inspire young Native women to follow their dreams. That’s how the “Models of Native Ruckus blossomed.
Norma encouraged three sisters to audition for “Native Fashion in the City” which is held in Denver.
Impressed with their natural beauty and abilities, Norma began working with the sisters – Cin, Cadence Bracklin and Shawnee Fox. Just as the name “The Models of Native Ruckus” implies, these three sisters, of the Hidatsa & Ojibwe Tribes, are breaking the mold for models in the fashion world.
“Our Creator is in every reflection of our culture, spirituality and heritage,” explains Cin, the eldest of the three models. “We express who we are through our cultural traditions,” she explains, “We show grace, integrity and strength, in every project we do.”
They are using fashion as a platform to address social issues. While traveling throughout the U.S., they experienced the poverty that too many Native children, teenagers and elders endure. In response, they created “Cadence’s Project,” to give back to those who need the most help.
“We’re clothing children in hopes & dreams.” To donate to this project, please visit www.oneearthunited.org.
As young Indigenous women, they also educate others that Native Americans are still here, that they are innovative as well as making positive change in the world.
Editor’s Note: Register at oneearthunited.org to stay up to date on the latest couture fashions for men and women by Red Berry Woman! You’ll receive LookBooks and updates on the upcoming People of the Earthlodge Virtual Fashion Show.