French luxury brand Balmain is joining the SWAIA Native Fashion runway show taking place at the 102nd annual Indian Market in Santa Fe, N.M., on Aug. 18.

The event, which has drawn Indigenous Hollywood stars as models and spectators, including Jessica Matten, Amber Midthunder, Zahn McClarnon, Kiowa Gordon and D’Pharoah Woon-a-Tai, is a premier showcase for contemporary Indigenous fashion design, including the work of the first Indigenous member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America Jamie Okuma, “Project Runway” alum Patricia Michaels, Lauren Good Day and rising star Jontay Kahm.

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Kahm, who is Plains Cree and has a futuristic style inspired by nature, Alexander McQueen, Iris van Herpen and Nick Cave’s sound suits, will present his designs on this year’s runway alongside collections by Okuma, Good Day, Caroline Monnet and ASEP Designs by Adrian Standing-Elk Pinnecoose.

There will also be a selection of Balmain fall 2024 looks originally presented at Paris Fashion Week in February, designed by Olivier Rousteing, who has been a champion of diversity and inclusion in fashion throughout his career. (One of his representatives was at last year’s fashion show, and was so blown away he helped bring the brand into the 2024 program, according to art historian Amber-Dawn Bear Robe, who curates and produces the runway event.)

The collaboration will give SWAIA Native Fashion models international exposure while exposing Indigenous designers to a broader audience, underscoring the event’s commitment to elevating Indigenous design in the global fashion conversation, she said.

Grammy award-winning musician and Black-Eyed Peas member Taboo will open the fashion show, which will be held at the Santa Fe Convention Center, and there will also be an art exhibition by Cree artist Kent Monkman.

The first Santa Fe Indian Market contemporary Indigenous fashion show was held in 2014 at a public park with four designers, a $200 budget and a U-Haul for models to get ready. “What’s changed is people want to see more of it, which is great. What has remained the same is these are amazing talents and designers who are diverse in all their collections and personalities and creativity,” Bear Robe told WWD.

She also created the first Indigenous Fashion Week that debuted in Santa Fe in May 2024.

The August showcase coincides with Indian Market, the largest and most prestigious juried Native art market in the world, and has drawn brands such as Ralph Lauren and Amazon Fashion scouting for fashion talent. SWAIA Native Fashion is a sub-brand of the historic Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, which produces Indian Market.

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