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Local designers getting ready for Art Gallery of Ontario's Indigenous fashion festival

Local designers will be on the world stage for the Indigenous Fashion Arts festival in Toronto next May

THUNDER BAY — Indigenous art and fashion is finally getting its place and becoming more mainstream across all platforms. 

The Art Gallery of Ontario will be hosting its fifth Indigenous Fashion Arts festival over four days at the end of May 2024, featuring 28 Indigenous fashion designers from around the world, including four from northern Ontario. 

With maternal ties to Lake Helen Reserve in Nipigon, Michel Dumont, is a queer, two-spirited designer who will be featured for a second year. Dumont's items have made runways before and were even spoken about in Vogue magazine for his creation of a couture design for a woman in a wheelchair that was featured on a runway.  

When asked about his fashion medium, Dumont said that it was Project Runway that spurred his interest in using tape, "making costumes out of unconventional materials was a thing, and it was starting to be celebrated, and I had been doing that for years for decades, you know, cobbling up a Halloween costume for my friend's kids."

Dumont had tried more conventional items like various textiles and dying his own leathers and fabrics, but when chemical allergies get in the way safer mediums were needed to express his art in fashion, that's where tape stepped in. 

"Going to the Dollar store, that's where my supplies are," Dumont said. "Frequently you have to be innovative to turn $15 worth of items into a look that could be $15,000. I turned a $150 packing tape dress into a Thierry Mugler knockoff that's worth $15,000."

This year will be Dumont's second time participating in the festival. 

The Indigenous Fashion Arts Festival will take place in Toronto from May 30 to June 2, 2024, at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

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