Haana-SikSik, Inuk fashion designer, brings her designs home

Inuk fashion designer Melodie Haana-SikSik Lavallée — whose bold modern designs are inspired by elements of traditional Inuit art and fashion — has taken her hobby of sewing and made it into a career.

Artist says her modern clothing is inspired by traditional Inuit art

Inuk fashion designer Melodie Haana-SikSik Lavallée — whose bold modern designs are inspired by elements of traditional Inuit art and fashion — has taken her hobby of sewing and made it into a career. 

Her latest collection, called "Nuliajuk's Closet," is named after the Inuit sea goddess who controls ocean life. She says it was Nuliajuk's strength, resilience and reputed beauty that captured her imagination.

In this collection, Lavallée, who works by the name Haana-SikSik, imagines the goddess moving through the ages, with pieces that borrow design elements from various epochs.  

Her eclectic collection includes Victorian gowns and bustiers to flapper-inspired dresses and 60s-inspired suits. These designs incorporate elements of traditional clothing and fabrics in new and innovative ways, combining bold colourful satin fabrics with seal-skin collars and trims.

"People are surprised when they see my work because I take something like sealskin that's harder to work with and turn it into delicate clothing," says Haana-SikSik.

She sees her designs as a bridge between the past and present of Inuit culture.

"I think that it's very important that we progress. Inuit are known to be extremely adaptable and we're also said to be one of the cultures that went from Igloo to the Internet in one generation, and I think that shows just how adaptable we are."

Haana-SikSik taught herself how to sew at the age of 20. "At that point I was only making parkas and wind pants and things like that," she says. 

After spending two years completing studies in fashion design in Fredericton, Haana-SikSik is now back home in Iqaluit. She is now in the process of making her new designs available for sale on her website