Orlando Dugi

Fabulous Designer: Orlando Dugi

Phoenix Fashion Week presented the Global Virtual Runway Experience – The Style Trend Show on Dec. 19. The virtual show featured six couture and ready-to-wear designers with unique backdrops and styles, representing multiple continents. Today, meet participating designer Orlando Dugi

Brand name and headquarters: My brand is Orlando Dugi based in Santa Fe, NM. My hometown is Grey Mountain, AZ.

What is unique about your brand: Sharing and expressing my heritage through clothing design.

What kind of social impact will your brand leave on the world: My hope is to show people, especially indigenous peoples, that there are different ways we can carry on our heritage and be proud

Your first fashion job: I’ve never had a fashion job. I made beaded handbags before designing clothes. So maybe that was my first job?

Key person who impacted your fashion/business life the most and why: Not one but several key people have had an impact would have to be my grandmothers. They introduced me to dress making and a traditional lifestyle and upbringing that still influences me. They showed me a beautiful way of life that they still live today. I am very thankful that they continue to teach me and I wish them continued good health and happiness.

Your biggest fashion accomplishment so far in your eyes: My biggest fashion accomplishment so far, would probably be a fashion film directed by Kaela Waldstein, telling the story of what inspires me. It’s titled “Becoming: Orlando Dugi.”

The biggest fashion/business obstacle you have overcome: I don’t think I have overcome it yet. I’m still learning a lot every year. But, a collection a few years ago was so expensive to create and left no money for marketing and anything else that comes after the collection was completed. I borrowed money and went into debt to pay my helpers and materials. Sometimes it feels like I’m still recovering from that year.

A designer who inspires you today: It’s more of a combination of different designers. Each with something that inspires me. One designer is Lloyd Kiva New. A Cherokee designer from Oklahoma. He had a boutique in Scottsdale in the 50’s and 60’s and was a successful Indigenous designer with and went on to co-found the Institute of American Indian Art (IAIA). Another designer is Yvette Saint Laurent. One of the very first fashion books I ever looked at was of his work in an exhibition at the MET, I believe it was. The clothes were so elegant. Seeing those designs pushed me toward designing women’s clothing.

Your favorite quote: T’áá hwó’ ají t’éego- “It’s up to you.” It has much more meaning in the Diné language than its English translation. You’re responsible for whatever the outcome resulting from your own effort, hard work and determination.  

How did the Virtual Style Trend Show by Phoenix Fashion Week impact your brand during pandemic: The VSTS helped introduce my brand to more people globally who are interested in my brand story.

What can fans expect to see from your brand in 2021: Fans can expect my first ready-to-wear collection.

Photographer: Tira Howard

Models L-R: Mona Bear, Tiffani Begay, Maddie Lamb and Maria Bran

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