Native Designer Makes Art out of Fashion

Dorothy Grant is a Kaigani Haida of the Raven clan from the Brown Bear house of Howkan. Among her family crests are Two-Finned Killer whale, Shark, Berry Picker in the Moon and Brown Bear. Grant is a fashion designer and traditional Haida artist. Her garments, ceremonial button blankets and spruce-root hats are treasured by Haida people as expressions of living culture.

A sense of Haida identity is the creative force behind her fashion labels Feastwear and Dorothy Grant.

The first to innovate a new style in Northwest Coast Native fashion design, Dorothy came up with the idea in the early 1980′s of melding her artistic talent with couture, her work has been embraced by local and international fashion circles.

A high fashion interpretation of traditional Haida ceremonial regalia, Dorothy Grant’s “Raven Creation Tunic”, was presented at a dignitary feast hosted by the Canadian pavilion at Expo ’86. The tunic’s artwork depicts the Haida myth in which Raven released Haada Laas – Children of the Good People – from the clam shell. Today, the garment is part of the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s permanent collection along with her “Hummingbird Copper Panel Dress.”

Grant’s second Feastwear collection was featured in “Panache: 200 Years of the Fashionable Woman,” a highly publicized exhibition documenting two centuries of international fashion at the Vancouver Museum. Her “Raven Greatcoat” was prominent as the final piece and was later purchased by the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology. Following this presentation, Grant’s designs were exhibited in several art galleries across North America including The Meridian Gallery in San Francisco, for the show “Haida Ritual Art: The Insistent Present.”

“Land, Spirit, Power” a touring exhibit of works by Canadian Aboriginal artists featured Grant’s “Seven Raven Button Blanket.” The National Gallery of Canada has since purchased this series for their permanent collection.

At the 1993 “Winds of Change” design competition, organized by the Canadian Council for Native business, Dorothy received the Best Professional Designer award. The award included an invitation to attend one of Paris’ most exciting fall events “Les Vendages Sur La Montaigne.” Dorothy was the featured designer at a special reception sponsored by the Canadian Embassy in Paris.

In July 1994 Dorothy Grant’s first retail store in downtown Vancouver’s prestigious Sinclair Centre opened. The design of the boutique successfully combines the Edwardian character of Sinclair Centre with the purity of line and form found in Haida architecture. This boutique is the first of its kind in Canada and is exclusive to Grant’s Feastwear and Dorothy Grant collections, along with her casual line of clothing. It also features gift items with a Northwest Coast flavor such as hand carved silver and gold jewelry and framed limited edition silk screened prints. Select garments are also available through Dorothy Grant’s “Virtual Boutique” on the Internet at: www.dorothygrant.com.

Showcasing her fall 1995 collection, Grant participated with thirteen other Vancouver designers in Apparel B.C’s “Cultural Wealth,” a tribute to the Commonwealth Games. Her “Raven Takes the World” Haida wedding dress was chosen as the grand finale piece. Made of white deerskin, with original Dorothy Grant artwork screened down the center, this wedding dress was also shown in the gala opening of the new Design Exchange Building in Toronto, Ontario.

The Smithsonian Institute and the National Museum of the American Indian invited Dorothy to donate a garment for their fundraising auction. Her “Raven Creation Tunic” stole the show, going to a private collector it captured the highest bid at $8,300 US.

During the University of Northern British Columbia’s June 1, 1998 graduation ceremony, Dorothy Grant was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Law in Prince George, B.C. Grant was recognized for her talent and perseverance in maintaining her cultural integrity, as well as being an “outstanding” role model for First Nations people.

Clients such as Robin Williams, Peter Coyote, Marie Osmond, Richard Thomas and Susan Aglukark appreciate Dorothy Grant’s attention to detail.

Upon Dorothy Grant winning Business in Vancouver’s “Forty under Forty” award, Lisa Lisa Tant, fashion columnist for the Vancouver Sun said, “While so many other people are chasing the sportswear market, she has taken something from her ancestry and brought it into modern clothing. Her clothing is striking and dramatic but not costumey. It’s wearable art.”

Haida Fashion Designer Receives 1999 Achievement Award

Haida artist, fashion designer and businesswoman Dorothy Grant is recipient of the prestigious National Aboriginal Achievement Award for 1999. The National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation is an initiative of the aboriginal community and represents the highest honor the community bestows upon its achievers.

Grant, who is the owner/operator of a thriving boutique in downtown Vancouver for the past four and half years, was recognized for her business acumen. The recipients were honored at a gala awards ceremony in Regina on March 12, 1999 at the Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts.