Salmon skin corsets and a seal skin dress? Yes and yes. Welcome to “Wear Art, Thou?” an event put on by the Alaska Native Arts Foundation (ANAF), that brought out a crowd of 260 to witness a unique fashion show in downtown Anchorage over the weekend.
Twenty garments created by 16 designers walked the runway at the Egan Center Friday night. The event’s theme was deemed an “indigenous renaissance” by ANAF Executive Director Trina Landlord, and is about bridging the past and present, the old and new.
“Traditionally clothes were functional, and they were purposeful,” Landlord said. The goal of the fashion show was to “take that traditional technique and (create) contemporary wearable art.”
The result is 20 unique outfits that are “cultural remembrances” of traditional Alaska Native clothing, melded with modern fashion. Many were created from subsistence materials like animal skins, although that was not a requirement of the show.
“Our designers executed really well,” Landlord said. Those designers included Christine Alowa of St. Lawrence Island, Joel Isaak and Elizabeth Ellis.
“We are just super grateful and amazed at all the talent that was in the room,” she said.
Now that the show is complete, the garments are all for sale. Most can be seen at the Alaska Native Arts gallery in downtown Anchorage.