Connection / Continuity / Communication / Creativity

The fabric, colours and diamond pattern of these leggings are very eye catching. They could be contemporary fashion statements! The flickering diamond pattern on the leggings inspired this exploration of Indigenous style and fashion past and present and provoked questions about the future of Indigenous fashion design.

About Meagan Van Cappelle

Meagan is a recent graduate from OCADU, she graduated with a BA in Visual and Critical Design, with a minor in Indigenous Visual Culture. 

About the Original Artifact

Métis Men’s Beaded Leggings

Leggings // broadcloth, ribbon, beads // early 19th century // Length 67.5 cm

Gift of Mrs. Lucinda McLean

About the Process

Initially I was working through online research portals, having a difficult time finding specific information, I opened up conversation about my thoughts on fashion in our first critique. I quickly discovered that the best information was the stories that were shared, or the articles that came up through conversation about the project. It connected to some of the research I had done as well; which suggested that the leggings (or articles of clothing) in general were used to communicate information about the wearer. This drew me even more to the focus on communication. I decided that the best way to approach the project would be through collaboration and communication. Being that I am non-indigenous I felt that the best way to move forward was to invite multiple voices to the leggings to discuss what indigenous fashion is today, and what it is communicating. It was here that I drafted a letter with the help of Bernie and Bonnie to put out to indigenous fashion designers/makers to talk about fashion.

I was connected with Elwood Jimmy at the end of June and we had a three way Skype call with Bernard joining us as well. It was from here that the visuals and really, the project as a whole took a breath in. It began to take its own shape, a shape I hope honours the leggings that lay in the temperature controlled room at the ROM.

I recently completed my bachelors in Visual and Critical Studies Honours with a minor in Indigenous Visual Culture. The skills that were utilized for this project were social skills, I focused on conversation as the basis for my research. I was given great information and guided to great articles through the multiple critiques that were held with my fellow students (shout out to Megan Feheley), as well as representatives from the ROM, the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, and many others who attended these critiques. I also had a great conversation with Elwood Jimmy and Bernard Leroux that is the breath of my project. I used applications such as Adobe XD, as well as Skype, and of course Bernie, who is a great presence in my project.