Northern Fashion: modernity steeped in tradition

May 17, 2013

By Katherine Ellis

Photography by Trevor Lush

On Apr.26, the National Arts Centre hosted the opening of a unique fashion show — Boundless: Fashions from Canada’s North.

Part of Northern Scene — a festival that ran from Apr.25 to May 4 in the Nation’s Capital at multiple locations featuring Northern artists — more than 144 garments by 11 fashion designers from the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut hit the catwalk. The crowd was revved up before the show with many performances ranging from dancing to throat boxing (a combination of throat singing and beatboxing), as well as a gallery crawl where multiple locations in the city featured art by Northern artists.

Former Governor General Michaëlle Jean (centre) was one of the VIP guests at the event.

Many looks, inspired by traditional Northern garments, had a modern twist: fur-trimmed hoods, fringe pants and purses were mixed with ready-to-wear T-shirts and dresses. For more than 45 minutes, the audience watched this interesting juxtaposition as only a few models showed garments made with a variety of materials, including seal skin, fur, beadwork and knits fabricated with muskox fur.

The show’s designers included Jessica Vellenga, Sho Sho Esquiro, Rannva Simonsen, Sherlyn Kadjuk, Mary Ekho Wilman, Sarah Erasmus, Brenda Lee Asp, D’Arcy Moses, Faith Kakuktinniq, Qiviuk and Fernando Alvarez. Traditional garments from Yellowknife’s Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre were also featured.

Boundless was curated by Yukon jewelry designer Jamie Look.

On the runway

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