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Virginia Yazzie-Ballenger is a prize-winning fashion designer whose specialty is creating sumptuous traditional works in velvet. Like Wood, Yazzie-Ballenger enjoys the challenge of creating new designs from historical garments. Having held several titles as Indian royalty, including Miss Indian New Mexico, Virginia was encouraged by her mother to create her own pageant garments. After entering the work force, she began to design her own clothes out of the frustration of not being able to find clothes that expressed her Native heritage. In between raising children and filling custom orders, Virginia's business has extended beyond a thriving mail-order enterprise. She recently celebrated the opening of a retail store, Navajo Spirit, in downtown Gallup, New Mexico.
Arising from a renewed craze for Native-influenced Western wear, new takes of Navajo fashion include unique variations in fabrics, textures, color palettes and tailoring.Wood's work, most recently on view at the Heard Museum's Fashion.
Fusion exhibition, makes a strong statement that balances innovative adaptations and clothing heritage preservation. Bessie Yellowhair's creations exercise the same approach with apparel that pays homage to outstanding women leaders of the Navajo Nation, such as former First Lady Wanda MacDonald and Big Mountain land activists. From Yazzie-Ballenger, look for a new line of children's apparel, as well as a collection of bridal wear that can be worn in church ceremonies as well as traditional Navajo weddings.
Linda R. Martin is Associate Editor of Native Peoples Magazine. Formerly, she was Communications Director of Atlatl, Inc., a national service organization for Native American arts, whose mission is to promote the vitality of contemporary Native American art through self-determination.
Leroy DeJolie is a Navajo photographer renowned for his portraits of the land and people of the Navajo Nation. Widely published and exhibited, his award-winning nature and landscape work has appeared in Native Peoples, Arizona Highways, New Mexico, the Washington Post, and Time-Life Books to name a few. His limited-edition prints are represented by the HeardMuseum. Obtained through the lens of his 4 x 5 Wista Wood field camera, DeJolie's works, "are the memories, traditions and images that I am compelled to capture and preserve for my children, for my people, and the world for generations to come."
Photographed at the Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona. Jewelry and accessories courtesy of the HeardMuseum.
Camille Nighthorse Gordon, Navajo, (left) is a print model and film actor whose credits include "Lethal Weapon 4," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," and "Mars Attacks." A model since the age of 16, Gordon has also studied theatre, dance and voice at Brigham Young University, and is President of All Natives Talent in Mesa, Arizona.
Charmaine Rae Jackson, Navajo, (right) is a print model, stage and film actor and mass communications professional whose media credits include NBC's "Law and Order" and "Rio Shannon," TNT's "The Lazurus Man," and "Fox Kids Club." She holds a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the University of New Mexico, and is currently Vice President and Sales Manager of the Native Allure Calendar Company.
Permission from Native Peoples Arts & Lifeways, was granted for republication: June/July 2000 www.nativepeoples.com