Saskatchewan

Sask. models ready to shine at 1st international Indigenous fashion week

International Indigenous Fashion Week has been two years in the making.

Olivia Saulteaux started modelling in 2018 and Scottlynn Reil-Letourneau has been at it for 6 years

Olivia Saulteaux (left) and Scottlynn Reil-Letourneau (right) are the two Regina models selected for the first International Indigenous Fashion Week in Paris. (Bill Stevenson Photography)

A show two years in the making is about to come to life and Olivia Saulteaux would never have guessed she'd be a part of it.

International Indigenous Fashion Week fashion show happening on March 1st in Paris during Paris Fashion Week.

The 21-year-old from Regina had her first show ever less then a year ago and she found out she'd be going to Paris the same time.

"I was pretty stoked," Saulteaux said. "It kind of caught me by surprise."

Saulteaux got her start in modelling by being a 'guinea pig' for her sister when they were younger, and thought why not give modeling a try.

On the runway, Saulteaux said she feels nervous but almost like it's natural.

"I'm just kind of like walking," she said. "I try to keep my my eyes to the to the end of the stage because you know I've only been I haven't done two shows I'm still kind of like nervous doing it."

"I don't want to like trip. I'm wearing heels, I never know, what if my ankle like gives out."

Saulteaux is leaving on this week for the Paris trip.

"I'm really excited but it still doesn't feel real to me. It hasn't really hit me yet," she said.

Saulteaux is also following in her mother’s footsteps as her mother modelled for Racette’s shows in the past. (Bill Stevenson Photography)

International Indigenous Fashion Week Organizer, Chelsa Racette said she's hoping to get the designers noticed by mainstream fashion. 

The Regina woman has been planning the show to take place in Paris for over two years. Ten designers with their own models are participating, and Racette is personally bringing Saulteaux and her daughter. 

"Just [Saulteaux's] confidence and just her personality was amazing and I just wanted to provide those opportunities for somebody who interested in the field," she said.

Scottlynn Reil-Letourneau and her mother Chelsa Racette at the 2012 Indigenous Fashion Week. The two have been an organizer-model duo for years. (Left Boot Photography)

This will be Racette's first international show. She said organizing an event overseas from her home in Regina was difficult with the time difference and not being able to be in the spaces, but that a dedicated team helped of about 30 people.

"I'm just I'm excited for the atmosphere, the excitement," Racette said. "And just to see the whole show we put together."

As well, the designers and models will be checking out other shows, doing a photo shoots and a modelling workshop.

Racette is hoping to sell out the 150 seats for the March 1st show and entrance is 55 Euro. She wants to emphasize people don't need to be Indigenous to enjoy the show and understand the message behind it.

"Support locals, support authenticity and stop supporting fast fashion," Racette said.

Racette said too many people aren't buying authentic clothing and cheaper fashion is contributing to the landfills as a person cannot use it as long. 

Chelsa Racette and her daughter Scottlynn Reil-Letourneau first went to Paris in 2016 and will now be returning together for the first International Indigenous Fashion week organized by Racette. (Submitted by Chelsa Racette. )

The other Regina model attending is nine-year-old Scottlynn Reil-Letourneau.

Reil-Letourneau started modeling around age three and said she's really excited to be up on stage.

"It's fun and exciting," she said.

Even though she's been modeling longer than Saulteaux, Reil-Letourneau said she still gets nervous.

"It's a big stage," she said her favorite part is "when I go up there and people clap."

Reil-Letourneau wants to be a model for "a long time" and a singer in the future.

Scottlynn Reil-Letourneau started modelling when she was three and loves when people clap. (Bill Stevenson Photography)

On top of showcasing great Indigenous fashion, Saulteaux said she hopes people realize Indigenous accomplishments.

"Indigenous people are real. We're still here and we're accomplishing great things today and we continue to accomplish great things," she said.

People can be ignorant to the situation of Indigenous peoples, Saulteaux said.

Saulteaux has also been seeing messages of support from her home reserve of Whitebear First Nation.

"Saying that I'm a good young role model for people," she said. "I like hearing that because that's what I want to do. I want to be a good role model for kids. And see how anybody can do it."

"If you love it, put your mind to it. Whatever you put your mind to you can create your own reality," she said. "Whatever you want, you can have it."

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