Indigenous designer wins coveted award during Phoenix Fashion Week

Phoenix Fashion Week featured Indigenous designer, Norma Baker-Flying Horse, who won the highly touted designer of the year award on the event’s final day this past weekend.

Phoenix Fashion Week is a two-day event held annually, returning after a two year pause due to covid-19.

The event features the final showcase for Phoenix Fashion Weeks’ very own designer “bootcamp.”

The Bootcamp includes various challenges and classes for a handful of designers, four of which took the runway Saturday night to display their creative work.

The designers, were each from different backgrounds and cultures. Baker-Flying Horse is from the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, and is a member of the Hidatsa, Dakota Sioux, and Assiniboine tribes.

Her brand, Red Berry Woman, is also her traditional Dakota name. Baker Flying-Horse was not the only Indigenous designer to be in the bootcamp but was the only one to be a finalist.

The other finalists featured brands Elevee Lifestyle, Sunlight Lover, House of Mae Noir, and Senti Designs.

“Both professionals and fashion students have made it their mission to teach upcoming designers like me how to get to a higher level in the fashion industry or to even clarify and refine our brands’ missions, so to be named designer of the year by these individuals must mean I’m doing something right, ”said Baker-Flying Horse.

Red Berry Woman’s presentation opened with a performance from two dancers of traditional Native American style. The two dances presented are the fancy shawl dance and the northern traditional dance, both of which are prominent women’s powwow dances.

Ever since her childhood, Baker-Flying Horse had an acute taste for fashion.

“I’ve loved fashion since I was a little girl wearing plastic heels I got from Kmart around my grandpa’s ranch. “It’s something that has always been a part of my life personality… Somewhere along the way I began creating fashions that had designs from my three tribes, the Hidatsa, Dakota Sioux, and Assiniboine for people who wanted to have representation in what they wore at contemporary events, ”said Baker-Flying Horse.

Baker-Flying Horse is looking to change the tide for creators like herself in the fashion profession.

“I have the opportunity to educate people about my tribes and to break stereotypes about all Native Americans. That has become my brand’s mission… I hope I see the day when we no longer have to say, ‘the first Native’ and start seeing Natives dominate spaces like fashion, entertainment, and art, ”Baker-Flying Horse said.

She now has the opportunity to spread her message and traditional fashion worldwide, earning a contract with Agency Arizona, a top modeling and talent agency in Phoenix, Arizona.

Looking ahead, Baker-Flying Horse has big plans and plans to expand this opportunity.

“I’m looking at hiring employees and expanding because my brand has been growing and faster than I had anticipated. What started as me crafting on the weekends is now turning into a brand with a purpose, ”said Baker-Flying Horse.

She attributes her ability to craft to her mother and grandmother, both of which nurtured her ability to create traditional Indigenous regalia.

“I would never have imagined all this happening had you told me what Red Berry Woman would become five years ago. It’s been a lot of work and I’m willing to work harder to leave a legacy someday. “

More information about Phoenix Fashion Week is available at https://phoenixfashionweek.com/, and the Red Berry Woman line can be found at https://redberrywoman.com/.

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