The Yaamava’ Resort & Casino in San Manuel in Highland, California, east of Los Angeles, hosted two days of collection presentations by Native American designers on April 20 and 21.
Produced by fashion publicist, bestselling author and television personality Kelly Cutrone, the event featured a show by Jamie Okuma, the first Native American fashion designer to be admitted to the Council of Fashion Designers of America, along with performances by Indigenous creators Jennifer Younger, Orlando Dugi and Section 35.
Freak City LA, Custo Barcelona and others also showcased collections, with models strolling around the resort pool and guests seated on either side.
Paris Jackson, “Prey” star Amber Midthunder and TV host/stylist Jeannie Mai were among the guests who attended Yaamava’s Fashion Daze, which the property hopes to make an annual event.
“To me, it’s very important that more people have the opportunity to showcase their work, and that’s not just for fashion, it’s for all of art…the more diverse, the better,” said Jackson, dressed with a “naked” Jean Paul Gaultier. dressed and admiring Okuma’s collection.
Known for her silk dresses and robes with beaded prints, floral motifs and ribbons, Okuma went more graphic and streamlined for this collection with stretchy minidresses and matching leggings mixed in with her breezier styles.
“Black and nude is something I love, it’s based on our parfleche designs on our luggage and cases. There’s a really specific aesthetic, very bold and graphic,” she said backstage of the artistic inspiration that brought pieces of him to her.
Becoming a new member of the CFDA, the first Native American designer to do so, he said changing the rules to allow applications by those who sell only through e-commerce helped pave the way. Next, he’ll be showcasing another new collection in August at the annual Santa Fe Indian Market Fashion Show. There’s also a New York fashion show on his wish list.
“I edged them myself. It’s something my dad taught me when I was 8,” said Freak City LA cofounder Valerie Campbell, sporting an alien-shaped beaded necklace from the vibrant Y2K-Look Collection, which featured the pink Barbie slogan “Real and “Fake” overalls, graffiti and “I Love LA” graphics. “And then we made Minnetonka loafers with crystals because I grew up wearing Minnetonkas too,” said the mixed-race Japanese and Comanche designer of bringing her legacy to the runway .
Tlingit artist Jennifer Younger, who arrived from Southwest Alaska, displayed her armor-like jewelry and shields. “I was envisioning empowering women, showing protection… and I wanted to incorporate Formline design, which is a Northwest Coast art style,” she said of her inspiration.
The play was the theme of a panel discussion at the event hosted by Ojibwe author and Vogue magazine contributor Christian Alliare with actress Amber Midthunder, Okuma and others.
“I had a designer that I didn’t like one bit and now she’s gone,” Midthunder said of having to convince her team to mix Native American designers with luxury brands during her press tour for the film “Prey.” “It’s about making people understand even if it’s something that hasn’t been seen a lot, it should be accessible. Maybe I’m wearing Prada to one event and then wearing Jamie’s dress to another. They should be on the same level because they are. The more people wearing it, the more people know it’s out there.