VIFW 2023 Interview with Fashion Designer Heather Bouchier of Heather Bouchier Design

Heather Bouchier Design will be showing their collection on Nov. 21 - All My RelationsTraditional practices mix with contemporary aesthetics in magnificent pieces from emerging and established Indigenous designers. This show will feature a collaboration with Indi City. More info and Tickets HERE

From the VIFW Press Release - 

Nation: Beardy’s and Okemasis. 

Originally from Beardys & Okemasis Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, Heather has been in Edmonton since 2005. She attended Fashion Design school in Saskatoon and has been sewing since 2001.

Her design aesthetic includes the use of thrifting, up cycling, some traditional techniques and materials such as beadwork, horsehair, dentillium and hides. Heather is inspired by vintage styles and blends them with modern design. She owns her own business as a custom seamstress, costume designer, tailor, and jewelry artist.

Heather has shown her collections all over North America and Japan. Heather completed an Artist Residency at the Banff Centre For Art and Creativity for Indigenous Haute Couture along with 9 other Designers from across Turtle Island. One of Heather’s award winning gowns was featured in Chatelaine magazine’s Spring 2023 Issue.

She serves as Fashion Director for Heart of the City Festival and is the Creative Director of the Indigenous Empowerment Fashion Collective. They focus on creating opportunities for Indigenous People who wish to follow dreams in the Fashion Industry.

Indi City - Angel Aubichon, a Métis and Cree woman from Peepeekisis Cree Nation, serves as the Co-founder and CEO of Indi City, a tech-enabled Indigenous retail brand. Angel's journey from Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, to her studies in creative writing, languages, and Indigenous Women in Community Leadership has been a remarkable one. She initially explored animation and film, then delved into community organizing and the non-profit sector.

As a young single mother of an autistic son, Angel turned to beadwork to support her family, which eventually led to her vision for scaling Indigenous adornment. Indi City was born out of this dream, incubated within tech makerspaces in Calgary. Their beloved core product, laser-cut acetate earrings, draws inspiration from Angel's Kokum's woodland floral style beadwork.


Indi City's mission revolves around Indigenous economic sovereignty, with a specific focus on empowering Matriarchs. They bring this vision to life through innovative creations like wearable tech-regalia, seamlessly blending the ancient with the modern, creating functional and stylish wearable art.

Their dedication to preserving and promoting the voices of original storytellers is embedded in their approach to fashion, design, and innovation. Indi City's journey is a tribute to their ancestors while opening the door to a new era of Indigenous expression

Interview - 

Please share a bit about your journey to embrace fashion design as a career.

I've always been interested in fashion growing up I always loved going to the thrift store and going with my family. We were very low income, so we made do with what we had. I was very creative in creating looks with minimal creating outfits out of little with the very little we had. I guess I was obsessed with the grunge movement of the 90s because it was a great combination of thrift store and what was current at the time, what was in fashion which was grunge and I always really loved that, and I always really love fashion.

How did you learn your skills?

The first thing I sewed when I was a pow wow dancer was I had to hand sequin and do a little bit of beading which I forgot but I learned how to hand sew when I was about 12, but not very well. I made myself a dress when I was 13 by hand and then I went to design school to learn how to sew when I was 19, and I only really learned how to bead about eight years ago. I went to design school in January 2001 to may of 2002. I earned a Certificate of Sewing & Design (2001) and a Diploma of Fashion Design (2002).


Who are you as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand?

I make modern clothing with vintage elements. I utilize Indigenous Cree techniques as it is part of my own journey of healing and finding myself in my culture. Learning techniques such as beading, porcupine quilling, working with dentalium shells, furs and finding ways to modernize and innovate with them while respecting where they come from. Age ranges of customer: 17 to 70.

Growing up as low income and also Indigenous, I have been taught not to waste things and to have respect and appreciation for the materials and the pieces I am fortunate to receive. Because of this, upcycling and reusing fabrics has been very important to me as a designer. When I started my business, it was my goal to reduce my carbon footprint as much as I could.

What comes easiest for you as a designer? What is hardest?

I really enjoy all elements of the creative process, and. I find that learning is always part of what I do. Some days, drafting patterns is very difficult, some days it’s easy. Same with sewing. I find that it all depends on the material being used. I am working on a gown that is made of really thin chiffon which I find hard to work with.

I find it easy to picture the looks, to visualize the way they walk down a runway. But I find difficult doing math, and organizing the clutter in my mind.

Where do you find inspiration for new collections? How important is color to your design process?

In every collection I create, there is always an inspiration that comes from my upbringing. Whether it is good or bad, there is a story that I feel and hear. Each collection is a branch of who I am and what I have learned. Color does play a huge part to each story but I find that textures and the materials can often be just as important.

This collection funnily enough is centred on Black and White. There will be two pops of color but only as it is relevant to the story.

Indicity - jewelry
Readers would love to know more about the current collection you showed at Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week 2024. 

This collection is called “Grey Space” which is an all Black & White collection with two pieces in it featuring a red gown and a yellow gown, signifying medicine colors. This collection has been a collaboration between myself and Angel Aubichon of Indi City.

It is focused on the idea that “Not everything is Black & white, there are grey areas.” What it means to me is that in life, business, and trauma, there are areas that do not change and persist because we accept that this is how its always been.

The materials are black and white upcycled, thrifted materials sourced over years, some of which were gifted to me.

Do you have a favorite look in this collection?

I have a few. One that sticks out though is a black gown that features horsehair and has a choker. It is a fitted piece that makes me feel uncomfortable, and the choker has short spiky horsehair that restricts movement. To me its designed to feel exactly what the story of collection is, to not move and not change because this is how it is and always been, if that makes sense.

Currently, I am only able to take custom orders via social media and email. I am collaborating with Indi City for this show, and their pieces can be purchased through their website:

What's next for you as a designer and your brand?

Indi City and I will be collaborating on another collection for 2024/2025.

I am also serving as Creative Director for the “Indigenous Empowerment Fashion Collective” in Edmonton. We have some exciting events and news to share in 2024.

Social Media Links -
Photo Credits
Hinauri -
  • Photographer: Curtis Cameron Photography
  • Model; Hinauri Nehua-Jackson
  • Earrings: Indi City
  • Dress: Heather Bouchier Design
  • Hair: Meagan Loves
  • Makeup: Brittany David - Binny MUA
  • BTS: Kateao Nehua-JAckson
Mustard Gown with oval backdrop -
  • Roberta Alook Model
  • Soko Fotohaus Photographer
Green horsehair with oval backdrop - 
  • Hinauri Nehua-Jackson Model
  • Soko Fotohaus Photographer
VIFW runway - 
  • Alana Paterson Photographer
  • Kamryn Yawnghwe Model