New Brunswick

New Brunswick designer selected for first-ever national Indigenous Fashion week

A New Brunswick fashion designer has been selected to showcase her clothing creations during an upcoming national event.

Ingrid Brooks will represent Atlantic Canada at national event with handmade clothing designs

Fashion designer Ingrid Brooks of Indian Island shows a headpiece she created by hand for an outfit that will be displayed in Toronto as part of the first-ever Indigenous Fashion Week. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

A New Brunswick fashion designer has been selected to showcase her clothing creations during an upcoming national event. 

Ingrid Brooks of Indian Island First Nation is travelling to Toronto this week for the first ever Indigenous Fashion Week. 

"Oh my god, it's been a little bit overwhelming," said Brooks. "But I'm doing it. I'm pulling it off." 

Brooks, along with two New Brunswick models, start their road trip to the runways on Tuesday. 

Handmade outfits 

The handmade 'Healing Dress,' created and designed by Brooks, sports 365 metallic cones, one for each day of the year, that give the sound of falling rain when the dress is worn. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
Brooks will showcase seven custom outfits, all of which she says were created in the tradition of New Brunswick First Nations people. 

Each dress, cloak and headpiece are handmade by Brooks using traditional and contemporary techniques taught to her by family members. 

N.B. fashion designer attending Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto

NB

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Ingrid Brooks is representing Atlantic Canada at the inaugural event, and dining with the lieutenant-governor of Ontario. 0:53
She says she expects the experience to be professionally valuable, but also deeply personal. 

"I look forward to meeting other designers and seeing how they do things out there," said Brooks. "And bringing my work out and sharing my culture and the Mi'kmaq designs and our stories behind each piece." 

From forestry to fashion

Seven of Brooks' outfits will be on display in Toronto over the next week. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
For the last two decades Brooks has been creating custom clothing in her home, a far cry from her former career in the woods as a professional chainsaw operator. 

"I worked in forestry for a few years," said Brooks. "And I retired from that and I went into the fashion business." 

Brooks builds each piece in her home on the Indian Island First Nation. Her cutting tables, sewing machines, and racks of clothing feature prominently in her living room and kitchen. 

"Each outfit takes me about a good week," said Brooks. "Forty hours to put together one outfit."

Brooks says each one of her fashion designs is inspired by and honours her people's history and culture. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

After taking a bit of a break from fashion, the decision to create clothing again was almost immediately rewarded. 

"I've been working, and I just decided to jump back into the fashion world, and right away I was invited to Toronto, so I think I know where I have to be in life."  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shane Fowler

Reporter

Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.

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