Indigenous Style Icon of the Week: Dorothy Grant (Haida)
Dorothy Grant was born in Hydaburg, Alaska and grew up in Ketchikan, Alaska. She 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, Two-headed Raven and Brown Bear.
In 1983 she began sketching Haida art onto clothing. As the idea developed, she was strongly motivated by non-native designers who were incorporating North West Coast native art into their clothing. She felt it was a poor representation of a beautiful art form. She decided to sharpen her design and art skills by attending the Helen Lefeaux School of Fashion Design in Vancouver BC, graduating in 1988.
In 1993 Dorothy Grant won the Best Professional Designer Award at the “Winds of Change” fashion competition held in Toronto. The event was sponsored by the Canada Council for Native Business. As part of the award, Dorothy traveled to France to take part in the Paris fall fashion event “Les Vendanges sur la Montaigne”. Her work was also featured at a special reception at the Canadian Embassy in Paris.
In 1994 Dorothy opened her first retail store in the prestigious Sinclair Centre in Vancouver, BC. In 2008, Ms. Grant moved forward with a 2,500 s.f. studio located in the heart of Vancouver, BC’s SOMA district. To compliment her wearable art, she presented original sand-blasted, hand-blown glass sculptures and ceremonial hats she was inspired to create. The studio also features art from other native artists.
Dorothy has been featured in books Totems to Turquoise: Jewelry Arts of the Northwest and Southwest, Haida Art, and Art of the Northwest Coast.
Fired by creative forces, Grant spins the 10,000 year old legends of the Haida into high style, fusing myth into each flawlessly designed and manufactured garment. Drawing from ancient stories, she translates age-old symbols and forms into equally timeless clothing. Her garments, ceremonial button blankets and spruce root hats are treasured by Haidas as expressions of living culture and may be found in art collections and various museums in Canada and the United States.