West coast fashion took off on a raven's wing during Canada's first national Aboriginal fashion show.
Two British Columbia designers took the top awards at Winds of Change, a fashion show and competition organized by the Canadian Council for Native Business. Dorothy Grant, of Surrey, B.C. took the best professional designer award, while Edith Newman of Sooke, B.C., won best new designer during the March event, held in Toronto.
"Winds of Change has clearly demonstrated the exciting and marketable fashions being created by Aboriginal designers," said CCNB president Patrick Lavelle.
Grant's stunning 12-pice collection included dresses, jackets and evening wear exalting Haida art. "It's innate for Haida to express their culture by wearing art. We interpret our culture through clothing," said Grant.
Achieving national recognition for her designs thrilled the Kaigani Haida. The win was a true statement of where the Haida are as a people, entering the mainstream but retaining Haida culture, said Grant. The fashion show was doubly important because it showed Native design by Native people, not Aboriginal art expropriated by non-Natives.
Grant's expertise and attention to creative detailing landed her a $5,000 prize plus a trip to Paris. Her creation will be viewed by an international audience during a fashion show at the Canadian embassy in France.
Newman will also travel to Paris and win $1,000 prize money.
The fashion show and competition was co-chaired by actor Tantoo Cardinal and designer Alfred Sung. The 13 professional and new designer finalists entered in the competition were judged by peers such as Holt Renfrew buyer Anne Lockhart, and Alfred Sung representative Cheryl Rice-Miller.
On the tail of Winds of Change, the CCNB has committed $225,000 from its Native Business Internship program for three internships in the fashion industry.