'Indigenous luxury' designer from Hamilton headed to London Fashion Week

Hamilton-based, Indigenous fashion designer Angela DeMontigny is one of nine Canadians selected for a showcase in London Fashion Week.

Angela DeMontigny is fighting Indigenous stereotypes with her 'casual glam' fashion design

Angela DeMontigny is headed for London Fashion Week as one of nine Canadian designers chosen for a showcase in partnership between Toronto Fashion Incubator, the City of Toronto and The High Commission of Canada to the United Kingdom. (Lisa MacIntosh/DeMontigny Boutique|Gallery)

Angela DeMontigny, a Hamiltonian of Cree/Métis heritage, will be bringing her "100 per cent Indigenous" collection to London Fashion Week as one of nine Canadian designers selected for a showcase.

Her collection named, "Of the stars," designed and made ready-to-wear in just a month, is one that shows the connections Indigenous people have with the stars, sun and moon.

"A lot of people don't know that in Indigenous culture, we have so many creation stories and legends about us coming from the stars," she said.

One of the pieces is a navy blue leather jacket with embroidered suns, moons and stars. On the back is "of the stars" written in Cree syllabic.

The jacket currently hangs in her Hamilton boutique with the rest of her new collection launching Feb. 15. The James Street North boutique has exposed brick walls and change rooms with yellow suede curtains.

The showcase will take place at Canada House in Trafalgar Square in London, England, and is a collaboration between Toronto Fashion Incubator, the City of Toronto and The High Commission of Canada to the United Kingdom​.

Keya Wings, a First Nations model from Calgary, is wearing a leather jacket from DeMontigny's newest collection. 'Of the stars' is written and embroidered in Cree syllabic. (Marta Hewson/DeMontigny Boutique|Gallery)

'Indigenous luxury'

DeMontigny said people sometimes make assumptions about her work because she is an Indigenous designer and it's been "really challenging" fighting the stereotypes.

"They assume that I'm doing something that's very costumey or traditional looking, feathers and beads and fringe and nothing that denotes luxury or of forward fashion, or anything like that," she said.

"Indigenous luxury" is how she would describe her work, "which in many people's minds, you would never put those two words together," she said.

Her designs feature mostly leather and suede pieces.

DeMontigny's collection was made in a month under tight timelines. (Flora Pan/CBC)

Indigenous representation

Outside of Canada, DeMontigny said there are people who know very little about Indigenous people in the modern context of Canada.

"They think that we're still from 300 years ago. Like that's how we dress, how we look, how we live, and they have no idea who we are now," she said.

So going to London Fashion Week is one way to step back into the international market for DeMontigny. She has been to South Africa Fashion Week last year and have also hosted a workshop in London, England with another Indigenous artist to teach traditional native beadwork.

The four-pointed star is beaded embroidery made by Claire Edwards from London, England. (Marta Hewson/DeMontigny Boutique|Gallery)

One of her students from London, Claire Edwards, is the artist behind some of the beaded embroidery pieces DeMontigny has included in her newest collection.

Moving forward she said she'll be doing more of those types of workshops and also expanding her business to have a presence in more countries, Peru being one of them.

For DeMontigny, "Of the stars" is another way of getting representation for Indigenous people in the fashion world. The front cover of the look book features a First Nations model from Calgary named Keya Wings.

"I need to get native models out into the world, because we're completely invisible as far as mainstream fashion goes, especially on runways."