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Native Haute Couture

A Chicago museum plans a fashion show with Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo)

Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo) and model Joan Severance.

Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo) and model Joan Severance.

Photo by Bill Curry

Designer Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo), who became a household name in Native fashion while competing in Lifetime’s popularity reality show Project Runway, will premiere 20 new looks from her PM Waterlily collection this fall in Chicago.   

The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian is hosting the fashion show featuring Michael’s work on Sunday, October 4, at Chicago’s Mayne Stage (1328 W Morse Ave.) in connection with its current “Native Haute Couture” exhibit, which launched in January.

“It is an honor to be included in the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian ‘Native Haute Couture’ exhibit,” Michaels says. “To share my heritage through handcrafted design is a dream come true. Once again I’m thrilled to be with some of the first people who collected and supported my work.”

Michaels is an alumna of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the first Native designer to appear on Project Runway. Last year, she received the prestigious Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Arts and Design Award from the museum board of directors in New York City.

Michaels has wowed audiences with her authentic, elegant designs inspired by her heritage, even as “hipster” fads that misuse feathers and face-paint have emerged despite outcry from Native communities. To bridge the cultural divide, this very special event will celebrate the success of Native fashion designers and encourage positive fashion collaborations that respect Native culture, according to the museum.

“With the popularity of American Indian designs, Native designers like Ms. Michaels are reclaiming ownership and authenticity of their traditional designs and heritage, and are taking their well- deserved spotlight on fashion runways,” Kathleen McDonald, executive director at the Mitchell Museum, said in a release.

“Native Haute Couture” celebrates the history of Native American high fashion from pre-contact to the present. The year-long exhibit features unique and priceless garments that showcase indigenous artistry and expertise in tanning, weaving, embroidery, beadwork and tailoring. From ceremonies and powwows, to celebrations and fashion runways, Native Americans have always had a sense of high fashion and adornment.

Michaels’ PM Waterlily designs are custom made out of her studio in Taos, and include high-end limited edition apparel and casual lines form both men and women. She chooses to work with organic materials whenever possible, and hand-dyes and paints her fabrics. Each design she produces showcases nature’s influence.

The show in Chicago, includes a discussion with Michaels and a reception, where her designs will be available for purchase. The event begins at 1 p.m. and tickets cost  $75 to $100, with VIP packages available. For tickets, visit Ticketweb.com or contact the museum for more information through its www.mitchellmuseum.org

>>RELATEDCheck out this video featuring the fashions of Patricia Michaels and other Native designers at the Santa Fe Indian Market.<<