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The inaugural Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week redefined the runway.
Joleen Mitton shies away whenever she’s pulled into the spotlight to introduce herself as Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week’s founder, so you’d never guess she led an international modelling career as a teenager. But she left the fashion industry nearly a decade ago, only to return full force this year to lead the most anticipated fashion show of 2017. During the four-day event in July, Toronto-based Lil’wat designer Curtis Oland sent traditional materials, including horsehair and lambskin leather, strutting down the runway, and Vancouver designer Dahlia Drive turned heads with her collection of exquisite scarves and kimonos featuring silkscreened prints of master carver Reg Davidson’s Haida patterns.
Q: Why did you leave the fashion industry to work with youth in your community?A: “I needed a reason. Honestly, I have had a life that people would think that they would want, which doesn’t really make you happy. I’ve had some people be really envious and, at the end of the day, you need to know who you are and need to have a reason to be here. It’s more spiritual and reflective than trying to leave a legacy. I didn’t set up to do that. It just kind of happened.” (Read our full interview with Mitton here.)