Fashion designer Crow parades in Paris






Angela Howe-Parrish poses in Paris for Indigenous Fashion Week.


Provided by Angela Howe-Parrish


When Angela Howe-Parrish didn’t hear anything about her candidacy for a fashion show in Paris, she assumed she wasn’t selected.

“I kind of gave up,” she said.

But one day in June, Howe-Parrish opened an email she never expected to receive.

She had been accepted to participate in the third edition Paris Indigenous Fashion Weekan event that provided Indigenous designers with a global platform, helping them break into the mainstream fashion industry.

Howe-Parrish immediately printed the email. She sat at a table in her bedroom in Billings holding the printed copy and read it over.

Then she rushed to tell her husband, Christian Parrish Takes the Gun, also known to many as the “Supaman” rapper.

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“Oh my God!” she told him. “My dreams are coming true.”

Howe-Parrish began to cry. It didn’t seem real.

‘Be ready’

Fashion is in Howe-Parrish’s blood.

She grew up learning from her mother, Donna Howe, who was a seamstress and home economics teacher. To earn extra money, Donna started a side business by sewing clothes with Aboriginal designs. She named her brand Choke Cherry Creek, after what the Crow called the Bozeman area.

When Howe-Parrish was in eighth grade, her mother taught at Plenty Coups High School in Pryor. Because the school was small – now serving around 70 pupils – Howe-Parrish was allowed to attend the prom.

Howe-Parrish was excited to show off her new skills. She sewed her own dress, featuring a shiny black bodice and a flared metal midi skirt with black lace detailing.







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Angela Howe-Parrish stands with her mother, Donna Howe, wearing a ball gown she sewed herself.


Provided by Angela Howe-Parrish


Howe-Parrish’s grandmothers and aunts were excellent beaders, and when Howe-Parrish was around 19 or 20, she was desperate to learn from them.

“I remember my grandmother gave me a locket that was half done, and she said, ‘You bead the rest the same way I beaded the first half,'” Howe-Parrish recalls “The quality of her beadwork was just exquisite. It was perfect. I had to take mine out and redo it a few times. But that’s how I learned.”

As she got older, Howe-Parrish, who is Crow and a descendant of the Blackfeet, worked in sales and as an entrepreneur, and she continued to sew and bead for fun. She has helped design articles for Good medicine clothes, part of her husband’s brand. She made badges. She sewed outfits for herself for events. And she beaded for her family members.

Over time, friends and family encouraged Howe-Parrish, now in her 40s, to sell and exhibit her work. Howe-Parrish had the idea, but it didn’t come true until her friend Cora Chandler approached her with an opportunity.

Chandler helped organize the first annual Big Sky Indigenous Women in Fashion and Art Gala in April.

“I remember her saying to me, ‘I’m planning for this. I want you to be part of it. So be prepared,” Howe-Parrish recalled, adding that at the time, she feared she might not be up to it.

But Howe-Parrish was ready. It was her first fashion show and she presented 12 looks. More than 500 people were present.

The event was a success. People wanted to follow Howe-Parrish. Community members congratulated her. They wanted to buy his work. They wanted to know where she would go next. Howe-Parrish was delighted.

Howe-Parrish began to feature her work in more shows. And just over a month later in May, with her mother’s permission, Howe-Parrish launched Choke Cherry Creek, a company showcasing her contemporary Apsáalooke, or Crow, designs.

Paris

In September, Howe-Parrish and her family flew from Montana to Paris so she could show her work at Native Fashion Week. About a dozen other native designers participated, and she was the only designer from Montana there.

Howe-Parrish created 16 looks for the show in a collection called “Honoring My Mothers and Grandmothers”. About half of the pieces were “ready to wear” looks and the other half were couture. All outfits featured contemporary Apsáalooke designs and geometric shapes. The collection featured a gold dress with mimicking elk teeth, which Howe-Parrish calls her “showstopper.”







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Corrin Lamere poses wearing Angela Howe-Parrish’s gold gown at Paris Indigenous Fashion Week.


Provided by Angela Howe-Parrish


Howe-Parrish said Indigenous models participated in the show and each makeup artist was also Indigenous. Howe’s 13-year-old son Brayden modeled on the show, and his eldest son Samuel’s girlfriend Corrin Lamere wore the “breathtaking” dress.

“It was so high for me,” Howe-Parrish said. “It’s amazing that we are in these spaces. Indigenous representation is important. You can use this platform as an opportunity to share who we are, that we are still here and that we have our beautiful culture. It’s really special. There is so much meaning in every piece. That’s what I love about it.

Howe-Parrish said the fashion world has opened doors. Her business has become increasingly popular and she receives more and more clothing orders and invitations to fashion shows. His success in the industry has also created opportunities for his community.







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Angela Howe-Parrish (right) poses with a model (left) at Paris Indigenous Fashion Week.


Provided by Angela Howe-Parrish


“People would ask me if Corrin was signed to an agency,” she said. “It’s so great to see and have that impact. Events like this can inspire someone to sew or bead or create something for themselves. It was the greatest joy.

Howe-Parrish hopes to continue to inspire and encourage local youth. This month, she plans to visit St. Labre Indian School in Ashland and Lodge Grass Public Schools to speak with students about fashion, self-love and confidence.

“I love going to these communities and using young people in my fashion shows,” she said. “I love putting them in my clothes and seeing their confidence increase knowing the clothes have meaning and tribal designs. They’re proud of it. They love it. And I love seeing their joy.

Howe-Parrish hopes to launch its new “Resiliency Collection” in November. The line will include menswear, casual wear and dresses, all with Crow colors and geometric patterns.

For more information, visit Choke Cherry Creek at Facebook Where Chokecherrycreekdesigns.com.

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