This year, indigenous beauty is shown more fully than ever. Inside the 668 stalls lining the streets of Santa Fe’s downtown plaza, more than 800 artists displayed and sold their new products, some of which took months—or a whole year. schedule—for production. Highlights include one-of-a-kind pieces like Pat Pruitt’s titanium feather necklace; Maria Samora’s sleek silver ring and bracelet; Jill Kaasten’s fancy pickle-shaped medallions, as featured in the hit series Reservation Dogs; sculpted goose feather dress by Jontay Kahm; and Elias Jade Not A Fear’s leather cape embellished with ivory, dental shells, ermine tails, and spikes. Stylish guests—both native and non-native—wear their finest turquoise jewelry and beads as they view these latest collections. Many serious (and wealthy) international collectors are known to line up at the booths of their favorite artists at dawn. Many patrons also made a stylish appearance for the IlluminNative: Indigenous Futures event at the nearby La Fonda hotel, where special panel discussions were held with appearances from local Hollywood stars—including Prey’s Amber Midthunder, Dark Winds’ Zahn McClarnon, and Rutherford Falls’ Jana Schmieding.
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Indigenous innovation was also evident on the catwalk during the event’s two fashion shows, where 14 local designers showcased their new collections combining the old with the new. At Sunday’s showcase, led by SWAIA’s Amber-Dawn Bear Robe fashion show producer, Navajo designer Orlando Dugi showed off an all-new menswear collection, made up of lace buttons and hand-knitted striped sweaters. Jamie Okuma introduces her new couture line, which includes graphic, ribbon-style dresses modeled by Dark Winds star Jessica Matten; Lauren Good Day’s fun prints—done on leggings and an accessible bomber jacket—were also modeled by Indigenous supermodel Quannah Chasinghorse and Reservation Dogs star D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai. Many artists at this year’s event agree that this market that’s been around for more than 100 years is particularly poignant. Despite systemic discrimination – even when indigenous people were forced into boarding schools and denied the right to practice their cultural traditions – indigenous artists prevailed and continued to respect and honor their heritage. It’s a privilege not to lose on today’s talent. “As an artist, I put a lot of pressure on myself to come up with the best collection possible this year,” said Okuma, who has been exhibiting at the market since the late 90s with her mother, the artist. Beader and artist Sandra Okuma said. “I am so grateful to be here for a hundred years. The energy and excitement were there. Dugi repeats the sentiment. “It’s been 100 years of Indigenous fashion and art, and to be part of the celebration, I had to show something that will help propel another 100.”
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