Sycuan’s inaugural fashion show highlights Native American designers

Sycuan Casino and Resort held its first fashion show at the Retreat Pool & Cabanas. The resort presented seasoned and upcoming designers from all over North America. The goal was to give a platform to Native Americans to showcase their creativity with an emphasis on jewelry, beadwork, and clothing design.

The event began with the Emcee, Ruben Littlehead, welcoming the crowd. Stan Rodriguez gave the opening prayer and was followed by the Bird Singers. Next, Littlehead introduced a dance troupe named the Indigenous Enterprise. This exuberant dance group was dressed in colorful regalia. They have performed at the Sydney Opera House, the Met Gala, Lincoln Center, and now Sycuan Casino and Resort. They dazzled the crowd with their traditional dance number.

Ashley Garcia

The fashion show began with Benjamin Leedom showing off his 3 Feathers Star Quilts. He is a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe and believes that star quilts represent the sky. Next, the beautiful designs from Aresta Tsosie-Paddock from the Navajo Nation came down the runway. Following this, Terence Brown showed off his collection from Trap Native featuring his streetwear brand.

Disa Tootoosis from the Cree nation in Saskatchewan presented designs combining traditional and modern. Josh Muse, who is the current vice chairman of the Tribal Council, presented his men’s suits from J&D Custom clothier. The models came down the runway showing off the flawless fit of these tailored suits that were made with the finest fabrics.

Mother and daughter team Cheyleen Julian and Rosine Tree rocked the runway with vibrant ribbon skirts and Native American beading. Ashley Garcia from the Oglala Lakota Nation in Rockyford, SD, showed native contemporary designs on the catwalk.

Design by Della

Closing the show was the artist Designs by Della. She is a member of the Apsaalokee (Crow) Tribe of Montana. Della Bighair-Stump also combines traditional and modern work to create her wearable fashions. Each one is one of a kind. She takes photos of her beadwork and has it printed on fabric and then creates bathing suits, dresses, and pants for the runway with this special fabric.

During the evening, DJ Danny kept the audience entertained with his upbeat tunes.

Closing remarks were by Angelica Labrake, program director. She thanked everyone for coming out and all those who helped put this inaugural show together. Labrake invited everyone to join her in the Wachena Room to view or purchase everything from the show. This was an excellent opportunity for the audience to come backstage and meet the designers and see the designs up close.


Saturday, Sept. 24 – “3rd San Diego Design Week” by Mingei International Museum. International Fashion Show: Diversity Through Design by International Rescue Committee Small Business Development Center at 11:30 am features work from designers from immigrants and refugees. For the entire list of events from Sept. 21 to Sept 25, contact Gladys Hernandez at 619-732-0789 x452.

Saturday, Oct. 8 – FWSD22 Runway Shows at the Andaz from 6-10 pm will feature a 10-piece collection from designers followed by a trunk show on Day 2 on the rooftop. For tickets:

Saturday, Oct. 22 – Kenneth Barlis presents a 10th-anniversary event at the Port Pavillion on Broadway Pier beginning at 4 pm For tickets, visit

Diana Cavagnaro is an internationally renowned Couture Milliner based in the San Diego area. Learn more about our hat designer, teacher and blogger at

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