Mi’kmaw designer prepares for the big time: New York Fashion Week

Ingrid Brooks’ love of fashion goes back a long way. As a child she would cut out pictures of clothes from a Sears catalogue.

“Me and my cousins would play like fashion runway and we were always making our own little stages and I should have known back then what I was going to end up doing, and I always wanted to be the boss,” says Brooks.

Brook is her own boss, preparing to show her designs called Mi’kmaq Designs at New York Fashion Week at a show featuring independent designers.

An opportunity to network with other designers and learn.

“Like I want to get a ready-made collection and hoping to meet people and connect with them how they did it,” says Brooks.

Brooks is becoming a regular on the runway. Last June she was at the Petepan Arts Symposium fashion show in Fredericton, N.B. Her work has also graced Toronto’s Indigenous Fashion Week, and the Paris fashion week in 2019.

Brooks sews her designs in a spare room in her home, Indian Island First Nation, N.B., located about 180 km northeast of Fredericton.

Her designs tell a story, representing Mi’kmaw culture.

For instance, she designed a gown made of trade cloth which was traditionally traded. The material can last up to 100 years and has Mi’kmaw double curves sewn with sequences that combine traditional and modern materials.

Brook also designs material, the print on one gown is a porcupine basket.

Traditionally, the Mi’kmaw made porcupine baskets in the past to trade.

“When they look at her dress, they are going to say, ‘oh wow this is Micmac porcupine quill work, and these are double curves, she’s from the east coast, she’s Micmac so just to represent where we’re from,’” says Brooks.

The gown is worn with a peak cap and basket, incorporating Mi’kmaw culture.

“This is part of our culture and I like more women wearing these, this is Micmac,” says Brooks.

Brooks, inspired by her grandmother’s patterns, says the Mi’kmaw double curve has many meanings.

“The curves I hear different stories about the double curves, I heard like this is the beginning of life the middle of your life and then the end of your life.”

Brooks hopes her fashions inspire youth to become fashion designers and represent Indigenous identity.

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