Indigenous fashion designer heading to World Fashion Week in Paris

A fundraiser was held for Indigenous designer Becki Bitternose from the George Gordon First Nation to help her showcase her designs at World Fashion Week in Paris next month.

Becki Bitternose from George Gordon First Nation invited to showcase her work in Paris

Becki Bitternose will be showcasing her Pendleton jacket designs at World Fashion Week in Paris at the end of February 2017. (Peter Scoular/Facebook)

A group of Regina women have stepped up to the plate in a big way to help one Indigenous designer attend one of the world's premiere fashion events.

The A Night in Paris fundraiser, was held at a private residence over the weekend and according to Indigenous fashion designer Becki Bitternose, who lives on the George Gordon First Nation, it was more successful than she could have imagined.

"I was very overwhelmed with everything and it was really, really emotional," said Bitternose.

"These people are complete strangers... they're only familiar with my name through Power of Pink and Sask Fashion Week, but yet they came out and so willingly helped us get to Paris," she said, with Power of Pink being a Saskatchewan fashion show & fundraiser.

Becki Bitternose surrounded by A Night in Paris fundraiser volunteers on Jan. 20, 2017. (Peter Scoular/Facebook)

Regina residents Lois Vanderhooft and Kayla MacKay, along with a few friends, organized the fundraiser.

The designer fee alone to go was $14,000 and that was my hurdle, getting that $14,000 paid,- Becki Bitternose, fashion designer

"She had just found out on Dec.25 that she had the invite to go to Paris and represent Canada," said Vanderhooft.

"Here was someone who had this amazing opportunity to go to Paris but yet could not get there on her own. We just had to do something." 

Bitternose said going to Paris wasn't really an option because of the financial commitment designers are required to pay in order to showcase their work.

"The designer fee alone to go was $14,000 and that was my hurdle, getting that $14,000 paid," said Bitternose.

But on the night of the fundraiser, she watched the donations pour in. 

"When they announced the first total that night which was $12,000, it was just like, 'Oh my god', and by the time I left that night it was a little over $17,000."

According to Vanderhooft, donations are still coming in and the total has just reached $20,000.

"It's not just Becki that needs to go," said Vanderhooft.

"She also needs to produce a line and that's also costly. She needs someone to walk the catwalk and some extra hands to help her arrange everything... there's just lots of work when she's there."

Rapid rise to success

Bitternose also makes men's Pendleton jacket designs. (Peter Scoular/Facebook)

It was only a few years ago when Bitternose took a shot at making a jacket from a Pendleton blanket for her then one-year-old daughter back in 2013.

Since then, the budding designer's collection for PlayBuffalo has already hit the international stage in New York, where she opened up Couture Fashion Week at the Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan.

When the show started and we seen the schedule for that night it was kind of shocking to see that I opened the show, so it was awesome," she said.

Bitternose said when she started sewing it was just to give it a try and never really planned on going anywhere with it. 

"Then when the fashion shows started it was like, 'Wow', and then when we made it to New York it was like, 'Oh My God', and now Paris. It's a lot to take in... it's amazing."

World Fashion Week kicks off on Feb. 28, however, Bitternose is planning on leaving to Paris early next month.