Balmain Joins Native Fashion Show at Santa Fe Indian Market


French luxury brand Balmain is set to participate in the SWAIA Native Fashion runway show at the 102nd annual Indian Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on August 18. This prestigious event has historically attracted Indigenous Hollywood stars as both models and spectators, featuring the likes of Jessica Matten, Amber Midthunder, Zahn McClarnon, Kiowa Gordon, and D’Pharoah Woon-a-Tai. It serves as a premier platform for contemporary Indigenous fashion design, showcasing works by prominent designers such as Jamie Okuma, the first Indigenous member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, “Project Runway” alum Patricia Michaels, Lauren Good Day, and emerging talent Jontay Kahm.

Jontay Kahm, who is Plains Cree, brings a futuristic style influenced by natural elements and the works of Alexander McQueen, Iris van Herpen, and the sound suits of Nick Cave. His creations will grace the runway alongside collections by Okuma, Good Day, Caroline Monnet, and ASEP Designs by Adrian Standing-Elk Pinnecoose. Additionally, a selection of Balmain’s fall 2024 looks, originally unveiled at Paris Fashion Week this February, will be presented. These designs, crafted by Olivier Rousteing, reflect his ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry. Inspired by last year’s event, where one of his representatives was deeply impressed, Rousteing helped integrate Balmain into the 2024 program, according to art historian Amber-Dawn Bear Robe, who curates and produces the runway show.

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This collaboration aims to provide SWAIA Native Fashion models with international exposure while bringing Indigenous designers to a wider audience, reinforcing the event’s dedication to elevating Indigenous design on a global scale. Grammy award-winning musician and Black-Eyed Peas member Taboo will kick off the fashion show at the Santa Fe Convention Center, which will also feature an art exhibition by Cree artist Kent Monkman.

The inception of the Santa Fe Indian Market contemporary Indigenous fashion show traces back to 2014, starting with four designers, a $200 budget, and a makeshift backstage in a U-Haul at a public park. Since then, the demand for Indigenous fashion has grown, highlighting the incredible talents and diverse creativity of these designers, Bear Robe stated.

The showcase aligns with Indian Market, the world’s largest and most esteemed juried Native art market, attracting significant fashion industry players such as Ralph Lauren and Amazon Fashion searching for new talent. SWAIA Native Fashion operates as a sub-brand of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, the organization behind the Indian Market.