When Thea Thomas began working alongside designer Stephanie Crowchild in early summer, she didn’t know that she’d find herself backstage at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) only a few months later – an experience she described as hectic and exhilarating.
“Everything from building the collection to being in the chaos backstage and seeing each piece go down the runway, it’s all so rewarding,” said Thomas, who was Crowchild’s assistant for the show.
“We worked so many late nights getting each piece ready for the show, and seeing the models’ faces when they put on their looks really made it that much more special,” she added.
Crowchild’s eponymous label, Stephanie Eagletail Designs, was part of NYFW’s Runway 7 lineup, a segment dedicated to representing cultural diversity.
Thomas was Crowchild’s right hand in putting together the 20-piece collection – sewing, cutting, and offering creative support with styling were some of her main tasks.
“My heart was beating a mile a minute with excitement every time a model was sent out to reveal what we worked so hard to create,” Thomas said.
She also contributed to producing the video that played in the background as the models walked the runway, most of which was filmed at the July powwow in Tsuut’ina.
This marked Crowchild’s second participation in NYFW – her first time was for RISE NYFW last year. “I felt it was a lot more intense but it’s really worth every minute,” she said, adding that this collection featured twice the amount of looks as the one for the previous show.
Primarily inspired by her ancestors, this collection was an ode to her lineage and her great-grandmother. “The overall experience felt really powerful,” she said.
Having her daughters by her side only amplified the pride she felt in accomplishing this feat not only as a contribution to Indigenous presence in the fashion scene, but also as a step to empower younger generations and open doors for them.
“It just feels as if I’m breaking cycles of the intergenerational trauma that I experienced, and turning it into intergenerational healing and breaking the barriers and showing them that if I can do this, they can do this,” she said.
That definitely rang true for Thomas, for whom this opportunity brought her one step closer towards her goals as a creative in the field.
“I was really looking forward to the experience of working a fashion show in the iconic city and being able to support Stephanie and her vision,” she said. “It’s been a dream of mine to work on the production of a large collection under the direction of a lead designer.”
For Kahnawa’kehró:non Daisy Lahache, taking part in NYFW was similarly impactful – “it’s indescribable,” she said.
“I had an amazing time. I had opportunities to network with a lot of people in the fashion industry, which is inclusive of so much Indigenous talent,” said Lahache, who modelled for three designers over the week – Onkwehón:we label Native Diva Creations, Peruvian bridal label Elizabeth Muñoz, and Ghanaian label ER SUITS.
The event also gave her a chance to make new connections in line with her work as an artist – one of her goals is to open a community arts studio.
“It shows me how valued I am in this space as an Indigenous woman,” she said. “It was an opportunity of a lifetime to have all of us Indigenous creators in one city for a whole week.”