Indigenous Haute Couture

Abstract:
Indigenous artists of today utilize new materials to display their traditional art forms in innovative ways to uphold and maintain their unique cultures. The various one­of-a-kind garments created by Native designers Pam Baker and Margaret Roach Wheeler re-present the traditional beliefs of adornment and status, offer a means to express identity, and reinforce traditional honoring practices. Haute couture, as created by Indigenous designers, offers a vivid opportunity for designers and their patrons to communicate varied attitudes about traditional Native cultures.

Through two designers, Baker and Wheeler, various aspects of Native high fashion are spotlighted, including the use of clothing as a communicator, the use of clothing in tribal perseverance, and the use of clothing in honoring, and expressing status and identity. When high fashion and Native culture combine, Indigenous traditional symbolism and importance of clothing mesh with contemporary cuts and technology to create unique and highly sought-after Indigenous haute couture.

Author: 

Jessica Metcalfe

Chair: 

Nancy Parezo

Publication: 

thesis

Year: 

2006

Arizona State Museum: 

M9791 M468i
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences