Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

Sharing Culture:
IAIA Fashion Shows in the 1960s and 1970s

Dress, ca.1970s. Wool fabric and shell. MoCNA. PROP-363.

IAIA faculty and students hosted fashion shows since the Institute’s beginning years. For example, just three years after the opening of the Institute, students hosted a local ‘style show,’ and IAIA’s fashion shows went out of state for the first time in 1968 for the Tucson Woman’s Club. In 1970, Wapp’s Traditional Techniques students hosted a public fashion show, which was narrated by Lloyd Kiva New and included both traditional and contemporary examples of Native clothing and accessories. These shows demonstrated that traditional attire was still being made, but also suggested a narrative of change and adaptation. The events highlighted the diversity of Native fashion design and created an awareness and pride in this aspect of Native cultures.

Within ten years of the school’s opening, IAIA fashion shows were held in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and New York, and the students developed a national reputation for their creative work in regional attire. Through these shows, students gained opportunities to see new places, meet new people, and expand their professional and personal goals.

 (L to R)

Patchwork shirt, ca. 1965, Cotton fabric. MoCNA. SE-47

IAIA student models a shirt during a fashion show, ca. 1965. IAIA Archives.

Excerpt from Drumbeats student newspaper, ca. 1970. IAIA Archives.

Shirt made by Traditional Techniques student Denice Knight (Pomo), ca. 1970. Leather, beads, and
horse hair. MoCNA. PO-5.