Westbank designer overwhelmed with two-spirited model applications for New York runway show | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Westbank designer overwhelmed with two-spirited model applications for New York runway show

Westbank mother Jill Setah is looking for two-spirited models for her runway show in New York.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Jill Setah
February 12, 2020 - 7:00 AM

Every time Jill Setah’s phone connects to WiFi, it starts buzzing.

The Indigenous designer from West Kelowna put a call-out last week asking for two-spirited LGBTQ+ models for her upcoming runway show in New York. She’s the owner of First Nations Fashion and her designs have been shown in New York, Las Angeles, and Paris.

On this runway, six of Setah’s designs will be featured at an Oxford Fashion Studios show and she's looking to use two-spirited models to show them off.

“Both my inbox and my business page were overwhelmed,” she said. “I had someone as young as eight years old, a transgender girl, apply.”

“Two-spirit” is used by some Indigenous people as having both a masculine and feminine spirit, and may describe sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity.

People have applied from as far as Los Angeles, Chicago and even the Northwest Territories.

And she’s been reading their stories.

“I get off work, get into my pyjamas and read these stories and they’re heartbreaking. Most of them have tragic beginnings,” she said. “The journey with my child, who is two-spirited, was not easy and I can not imagine there are people out there in the world who are being shunned by their own families and communities so I just want to bring awareness… We need to stop all the hate.”

She writes and applies for her own grant funding and previously had a GoFundMe to help with her last show in New York. She’s contemplating starting one again to help cover travel costs. Recently she received a $10,000 from the First Peoples Cultural Council, which will cover most of the application fees, but she’ll still have to fundraise for her own entry fee, flight and hotel, she said.

Wanting to create regalias for her children during powwows, she attended the Centre for Arts and Technology for design in 2010 and she's been designing, creating and sewing ever since.

Setah juggles work at Okanagan Nation Alliance in Penticton, looking after her four children, and creating custom fabric to use for her runway show. Her own daughter will be one of the models. She is originally from the Williams Lake area.

Applicants are asked to submit a headshot, and a video of a runway walk, “just to make sure they can come and bring their a-game walk,” she said. Applications will be accepted until the end of February.

If you’re interested in applying please email firstnationsfashion@gmail.com. Flight and hotel fees will not be covered, but entry fee into the show is, she said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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