A Nanaimo design team hopes to snag attention by putting Coast Salish art and culture front and centre at Vancouver Fashion Week.
Aunalee Boyd-Good, 44, and Sophia Seward-Good, 35, the sister design team behind Ay Lelum-The Good House of Design and emerging designers at Vancouver Fashion Week, will showcase ready-wear and couture garments with Coast Salish designs on the runway this month.
International, Canadian and local artists have converged in Vancouver for seven days of fashion, March 19-25.
Vancouver Fashion Week is the second-largest of its kind in North America, offering artists a platform to get started and noticed, according to Robyn Meeres, backstage manager and partnership coordinator for Vancouver Fashion week, who notes international media is brought in to give worldwide exposure for the designers.
While this show is a first for the Nanaimo designers, the province is no stranger to their clothing, which is carried onboard B.C. Ferries and galleries and gift shops across the province. It’s all B.C.-made with eco-friendly fabrics, like hemp and recycled fleece, and features Coast Salish art by their father William Good, an artist and master carver and their brother, artist Joel Good.
Both sisters hope the event is a launch.
“I’m just so excited,” said Boyd-Good. “It’s the premier fashion showcase on the West Coast so to be able to showcase there is really quite an honour and a privilege.”
“We’re just kind of hoping to get our foot in the door and grow and expand. We’re learning,” said Seward-Good.
The sisters are part of a second-generation design house.
Their father and their mother Sandra Moorhouse-Good teamed up in the 1990s on their own fashion line Ay Ay Mut and the two sisters spent a lot of their youth working at wholesale and fashion events and shows.
“We loved wearing the clothing, going to events, dressing up, getting our new outfits and everything that went along with that and that’s something that stuck with us,” said Boyd-Good, adding the Nanaimo Museum featured her parents’ 35 years of collaborative works in 2015, and the family did a small run of clothing for it that was so well received that it ignited something that had already been there a long time for her and her sister.
The following year they got more involved in design and it’s taken off from there, she said.
The Good House of Design remains a family affair. Their father and brother come up with the art for the clothes the sisters design, while their mother is their garment design mentor. She’s sewing all of the couture for Vancouver Fashion Week at her living room table.
The collection has a sea serpent theme, a symbol of a transformative journey between generations of women and father and son, and it’s named Thul Te Lada, or “maker of beautiful things” in honour of the family’s two matriarchs. Their mother was gifted the traditional name by their grandmother, the late Hazel Good of Snuneymuxw First Nation.
The sisters also plan to walk out with their mother at the fashion show.
“I don’t think people would walk their mentor out, but it’s our mom and she’s the person that inspires us to be able to do this, so we’re going to walk her out … she does help us out a lot,” said Boyd-Good.
Moorhouse-Good is touched the collection is named after her and hadn’t expected it.
“It was sort of a private thing that my mother-in-law had named me,” she said. “I hadn’t really spoken about it and for the children to have heard it and taken it to heart and honoured myself but also my mother-in-law this way, was very emotional, very special.”
Coast Salish art, design, language and original music the family recorded together will feature on the runway, March 21.
“There’s quite a few components that I think will be intriguing to people,” said Boyd-Good, who’s finding it difficult to keep everything under wrap.
“I am not good at that,” she said, with a laugh.