Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • June-July 2024 • Circulation 5000


Heather Bouchier Uses Traditional Techniques to Create Upcycled Modern Fashion

Heather Bouchier. Supplied

Originally from Beardy’s and Okemasis’ Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, Heather Bouchier has been in Edmonton since 2005. She attended fashion design school in Saskatoon and has been sewing since 2001.

Heather’s design aesthetic includes the use of thrifting and upcycling with some traditional techniques and materials. She is inspired by vintage styles and blends them with modern design. She owns her own business as a custom seamstress, costume designer, tailor, and jewelry artist.

Heather has shown her collections all over North America and Japan. She completed an Artist Residency at the Banff Centre For Art and Creativity for Indigenous Haute Couture. One of Bouchier’s award winning gowns was featured in Chatelaine’s Spring 2023 issue.

Heather serves as Fashion Director for the Heart of the City Festival Society of Edmonton and is the Creative Director of the Indigenous Empowerment Fashion Collective. This organization focuses on creating opportunities for Indigenous people who wish to follow dreams in the fashion industry.

Heather produced the first Heart of the City Fashion Show as a consultant and contractor. The next year at our AGM, Bouchier was invited to join the board as our first Fashion Director. She and the board successfully produced a second Indigenous Fashion Show in 2022. Bouchier tells us that Heart of the City is in the midst of producing the third annual event coming up in November of 2023.

I asked Heather to describe her fashion. “I like to create gowns haute couture style and I also like to incorporate my culture by using traditional techniques. I like to utilize traditional materials such as horse hair beadwork. I’m learning how to porcupine quill and use dentalium shells which used to be used as currency in the old days. I also utilize traditional methods of dying horse hair and things like that to bring the traditional methods to use in a modern sense,” she said.

“Something that I use in my current aesthetic is a mix of avant garde along with my inspiration to upcycle and thrift,” she continues. “The older I’ve gotten, the more climate change has become important to me. It’s always been important to me to upcycle. When I was younger we were very poor, when we got clothes we would be thrifting them and it is one of the teachings that we have in Indigenous culture not to be wasteful and so whenever I make things with leather, I find ways to use the scraps.”

Heather speaks of founding and running the Indigenous Empowerment Fashion Collective. “I would love to see more Indigenous fashion shows in Edmonton, big events, sponsored events. We are hoping to turn Edmonton into a hub for Indigenous fashion and art. That will create opportunities for everyone who wants to work in the fashion industry. What we are trying to do is to change the fashion industry at a grassroots level. We are trying to create events that will not only enrich the fashion designers and organizers, but also enrich our models, photographers, hair stylists, and other artists involved in the fashion world.”

Heather’s work can be found on Instagram and Facebook @heatherbouchierdesign.

Corine Demas lives in McCauley where she is the President of the McCauley Community League and a board member with Heart of the City.

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