Late summer in Santa Fe is lovely. The high desert transforms to its greenest state, lavender bushes thrive and wildflowers dot the aspen forests. The days are warm and the evening magenta skies sparkle with monsoon lightning. But most out-of-towners visit during this mid-August week for a different reason: to attend Indian Market.
The 94th annual market from the folks at the Southwest Association for Indian Arts brings nearly 900 contemporary Native American artists and hundreds of thousands of attendees to the Santa Fe Plaza. Over the years, other art markets have cropped up around the same time as well; a plethora of galleries hold openings featuring Native artists and pop-ups take over spaces around town. It's a bonanza of creativity and there's no exception in the case of fashion. Whether you have a thing for hand-painted denim or are addicted to couture, there is something stylish to drool over.
At 9 am Thursday Aug. 17,
We Are the Seeds
opens for the first time in the Railyard. The juried market features works by over 70 Native artists, and Loren (Acoma) and Valentina (Diné) Aragon bring high fashion to the premiere market with their brand
. Expect silky gowns featuring earthy geometric patterns and others with graphic printed designs. The market continues until 5 pm Thursday, as well as 9 am-5 pm Friday and 9 am-4 pm Saturday; get a full schedule of events at
On Friday Aug. 18, see a special presentation of jewelry by renowned turquoise collector and advisor Yasutomo Kodera at Shiprock Santa Fe (53 Old Santa Fe Trail, 982-8478) from 2-4 pm. In addition to showing pieces from his Sky Blue Hawk collection, the expert is scheduled to help with stone identification. Peruse big bracelets, modern squash blossom necklaces and consult Kodera about the origins of grandma's ring, all at the same event.
Spend Friday evening surrounded by hand-painted silk jackets and handmade leather bags at the group exhibit Native Voices at Singular Couture (5 pm. Free. Plaza Galeria, 66 E San Francisco St., 415-259-9742), the shop and studio of artist Sarah Nolan. Lorne Kris Honyumptewa (Hopi/Picuris), David Naranjo (Santa Clara) and Anthony Gchachu (Zuni) present outerwear featuring celestial themes or the Zuni Sun Maiden. Maya Stewart, a Chickasaw, Creek and Choctaw leatherworker who attended the London College of Fashion, brings her handbags to this exhibit. I'm lusting after her silver shoulder bag with fringe and a simple arrow pressed into its metallic leather. Metal is going to be everywhere this fall, and this piece is the perfect way to add a little shine to your outfit.
Saturday Aug. 19 is the first day of SWAIA's Indian Market, with booths opening on the Santa Fe Plaza bright and early at 7 am. You'll see silver, gold, cerulean and crimson iterations of kachinas, bracelets, blankets and tiny pots. But for fellow fashion-lovers, the biggest spectacle comes at 3 pm when the Indian Market Haute Couture Fashion show takes place for the fourth time ever, but for the first time in the Santa Fe Community Convention Center (201 W Marcy St., 955-6200). Seated tickets are sold out, so arrive early to nab your standing-room spot and ogle custom designs by Native designers including Orlando Dugi (Diné), former Project Runway contestant Patricia Michaels (Taos), Violet Ahmie (Laguna) and others.
Later on Saturday evening, a fashion event at the new Zohi Gallery (8 pm. Free. 130 Lincoln Ave., 557-6627) keeps the catwalk concept going as models don designs by Diné designer Lehi ThunderVoice Eagle, Crow/Cheyenne creator Bethany Yellowtail, and—of course—many more. I am obsessed with B.Yellowtail (Yellowtail's brand and collective) and her bellbottom floral leggings (which, by the way, are made in occupied Tongva territory—aka Los Angeles).
Finally, stop by the unusually located Felicia Gabaldon Pop-Up at Oculus | Botwin Eye Group (7 pm. Free. 125 W Water St., 988-4442) and see hand-painted denim jackets, vests, T-shirts, stickers and buttons from the Native artist (she's from Santa Fe, but is currently based in Oakland, California). Her alternately sassy, ethereal and inspiring works are perfect for the wall or your body, and you'll want to hang out in your Gabaldon wear for the rest of the weekend. Get a peek at what to expect at feliciagabaldon.com.
Happy marketing, fashion-seekers. Even if you're a total homebody, brave the crowds. This week of beauty is worth it.