Ravens, eagles, and polka dots

Haida-style ravens and eagles were gliding down the runway of a Vancouver fashion show this week.

Haida-style ravens and eagles were gliding down the runway of a Vancouver fashion show this week.

The show marked the launch of a new clothing line co-created by Haida artist Reg Davidson and eco fashion designer Wendy Van Riesen, who met Davidson while living on a sailboat in Masset Harbour.

Davidson gave Van Riesen two of his images, the Raven Dancing silkscreen and Eagle Drum painting, parts of which she silk-screened onto a line of wispy women’s clothes cut from discarded slips and curtain sheers.

“I think I allowed you to do it just because of your energy, and who you were,” said Davidson, speaking with Van Riesen in a launch video.

“I know a lot of people don’t like designs broken up, but I feel it’s always happened — when I look at old pieces, there’s sections,” he said, adding that Van Riesen’s designs bring Haida art into another form besides jewelry that women can wear.

Speaking from Vancouver, Van Riesen said she misses a lot about Masset, where she and her husband lived for nine months in 2014 before sailing home along the west coast of Haida Gwaii.

“People wave, and one thing leads to another and another because of the connectedness there,” said Van Riesen, who used her time on island to teach workshops at the local high school and Haida Gwaii Rec, volunteer at a community lunch and help stage the My Walk to Healing Fashion Show with a Masset women’s group.

Representing the two moieties of Haida lineage, Davidson’s raven and eagle designs are printed in black along with ovoids and polka dots printed in a palette of traditional colours: yellow cedar, red ochre, sea green.

“I am the polka dot,” said Van Riesen, laughing.

“All of my line has polka dots somewhere.”

Held at Skwachays Lodge, a boutique hotel and Aboriginal artist residence run by the Vancouver Native Housing Society, the Feb. 16 fashion show was produced by model Joleen Mitton, whose All My Relations company stages fashion shows featuring indigenous designers and First Nations, Métis or Inuit models.

Ten per cent of the proceeds will support a drinking water project in rural Tanzania.

“The whole thing is about connection,” Van Riesen explained.

“For me, that Reg would let me into that world, and we can show the beauty of that world in another way, and that we can work as a team.”

To see more pieces in Davidson and Van Riesen’s Ravens, Eagles, Polka Dots collaboration, visit dahliadrive.com.