Northerners among fashion designers will be spotlighted at the upcoming WAG – Eye on the Arctic show

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April Allen of Rigolet, Nunatsiavut (left) and Haley Alakan White (right) of Rankin Inlet are two of the artists whose work will be featured in November’s CRAFTED: A Fashion Show in Winnipeg. (Photos courtesy of April Allen and Haley Alakan White)

Northerners will be among the featured designers next month when their work is featured in a special fashion show taking place as part of the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s annual craft sale.

The MANUFACTURED Show + Sale takes place annually and features handmade products by a variety of artists. But 2022 will be the first time a fashion show will take place as part of the event.

“I can’t even begin to tell you my emotions I had before this event, I mean, it’s the WAG,” said April Allen, a Rigolet designer in Nunatsiavut, the Inuit region of Earth- Newfoundland and Labrador. a telephone interview.

“You know that feeling you get when you get tingling inside?” This is how I feel. I am absolutely honored to represent not only myself, but my family, my community and Nunatsiavut. I hope to make them all proud.

Qaumajuq, the Inuit art center of the Winnipeg Art Gallery. (Lindsay Reid/Courtesy Winnipeg Art Gallery)

CRAFTED: A fashion show will take place on November 2.

The fashion show will take place in the five exhibition galleries of the WAG and will present works by 25 different designers. In all, over 200 different looks will be showcased and will include everything from ready-to-wear and sculptural designs, to wearable art and traditional Inuit clothing from the permanent WAG-Qaumajuq collection.

The designers featured in this year’s event hail from Manitoba, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Nunatsiavut.

Affirm culture

Haley Alakan White, a mixed media artist who grew up in the community of Rankin Inlet in Nunavut, says she’s excited about connection events like this.

“I’m beyond ecstatic to participate,” she said. “I love talking to people and connecting with other artists and companies. This is an opportunity to chat with a whole bunch of new people.

She says the presence of Inuit fashion at high profile events like this is an important way to affirm Northern culture.

“Art is a way of just saying, ‘Hey, we’re here and we’re not going anywhere,'” White said.

Haley Alakan White’s kamiks who will be at the November WAG show. “I’m a big proponent of bringing our culture back, and showcasing our art is one way to do that,” White says. (Courtesy of Haley Alakan White)

White, who produces her work under the name Haley’s Handicrafts, describes her aesthetic as classic. She will have a pair of kamiks in this year’s event.

“They’re traditional, yet elegant and timeless at the same time, and so pretty,” she said. “I’m so proud.”

Art as a path to healing

Allen, who produces under the label Stitched by April, describes the style of its pieces as contemporary but incorporating traditional materials. She says the main outfit of the three she will be debuting in the show is a skin, sealskin and leather top and skirt, paired with turquoise skin boots sewn with her mother’s pleats, flowers in sealskin, black fox fur and turquoise pompoms.

“I wanted to create something that no one has seen before, something that makes you say ‘wow!’, so I hope I did just that,” she said.

Allen said events like CRAFTED are also important celebrations of the power of art.

After an environmental illness forced her to give up a career she loved in dental therapy, Allen credits a return to the craft as helping her recover.

“I fell into a deep depression and for many years I really didn’t know what to do with my life until I found my love for beading and sewing again,” she said. “My mum taught me the basics of sewing when I was little, so I already knew how to do it.

“It was very therapeutic for me. I feel connected to my culture and I continue to strengthen my bond with my culture through the practice of sewing and always reaching out to my mother, aunts and loved ones for their loving support. .

A pair of boots that designer April Allen will be sending down the runway with one of her outfits at November’s WAG fashion show. “I like to create contemporary pieces that incorporate our history and traditional materials,” says Allen. “Creating each piece of art leaves me with feelings of love, excitement, honor and pride. (Courtesy of April Allen)

Allen says she’s been inspired in the past by seeing pieces by Inuit designers in fashion shows and finds it hard to believe she’ll have her own work featured next month.

“It was something I could only dream of being a part of, but dreams do come true,” she said. You can do whatever you put your mind to. This is a message I have for all young people who are chasing their dreams.

The CRAFTED: Show + Sale will take place from November 4-6, 2022.

Proceeds from the fashion show will be Tunngasugit, a non-profit organization that serves Inuit living in urban Manitoba.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

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