'It's on national TV, it's all over Canada': Indigenous designer's dresses hit Junos red carpet

Three northern Indigenous musicians took to the red carpet at the Juno Awards all wearing dresses from an Indigenous designer from the North.

Leela Gilday, Tiffany Ayalik and Tanya Tagaq all wore creations by Tishna Marlowe, a fashion designer originally from Lutsel K'e, N.W.T., who now lives in Grande Prairie, Alta.

"When I saw Tanya wearing the dress, I totally started tearing up," Marlowe told CBC this week.

"It was 'Oh my God,' Tanya's wearing my dress at the Junos. It's on national TV. It's all over Canada.'"

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The Juno Awards were held last weekend in Ottawa. Inuk throat singer Tagaq performed at the event, while Yellowknife's Gilday presented the Indigenous album of the year award to Ayalik, who's half of the duo Quantum Tangle, and also from Yellowknife.

All three musicians had recently approached Marlowe about a dress, and she knew Gilday and Tagaq were wearing theirs to the Junos, but Ayalik just said it was for "an event."

The three pieces have their own stories and meaning behind them, Marlowe explained.

Gilday's is called "What would a Dene woman wear to the Junos?" The 50s-inspired piece highlights Dene identity with traditional beadwork, but is still modern, Marlowe said.

Tagaq's red dress honours missing and murdered Indigenous women and the beading is meant to represent Tagaq's family.

Ayalik's copper-coloured corset is named "Marcie" after Marlowe's younger cousin.  

"I'm just honoured they asked me to borrow my garments," Marlowe said.

"They're role models," she said. "Trailblazing in the music industry and working hard to show there is talent in the Northwest Territories. I'm honoured to be a part of that."