The NAKA fashion showcase returned for its third year, and despite a new format, it came with the same nerves for those putting it together.
The festival is a celebration of Dene culture and the Northern Lights, put on by the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and the City of Yellowknife. It gathered a variety of different local Indigenous fashion creators, allowing them to showcase their designs.
The catwalk runway show this year was cancelled, because of COVID-19.
Instead photography shoots were held and photos were uploaded virtually so the fashion could still be showcased. Because of physical distancing restrictions, a smaller team was involved in putting the show together this year, says volunteer photographer Jamie Wetrade-Stevenson.
Today's NAKA Festival Fashion Showcase Créateurs de mode du festival NAKA Sarah Erasmus of Erasmus ApparelSarah…Posted by NWT Arts TNO on Monday, 15 March 2021
“Every year it’s just filled with new nerves,” she said. “I think it’s really, it’s a really interesting approach and I really enjoyed it because you get to work with a smaller team and everything’s just kind of bam bam, bam, bam, bam.”
Wetrade-Stevenson says the artists outdid themselves this year, with the earrings being a particular highlight.
“And I love the idea of like your person being like the art piece type of thing — being like a blank canvas and then you add all these little pieces of jewelry like bracelets and necklaces,” she said. “I’m always just so amazed about how artists can put together jewelry from literally nothing.”
Natasha Kent has modelled for the festival in back-to-back years. Kent says the best part of the experience has been the back-stage life, speaking with and learning from the designers and makeup artists putting the show together.
“I love the diversity and I wish that there were more Indigenous or Métis people out there, which is who I am,” said Kent. “I love seeing my culture out there and I love the clothing that comes with it.”
Kent modelled a number of different designs, including some created by Sarah Erasmus, who runs Erasmus Apparel in Yellowknife.
“I feel like a person brings a certain essence to a clothing,” she added. “I’ve been told myself, that I bring a certain confidence and I love being able to show other people’s work.”
Kent added she hopes to be the first Canadian Indigenous model on the cover of Vogue magazine.
Photos from the fashion showcase will be posted to the NWT Arts TNO Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as the Yellowknives Dene’s First Nation Facebook page.