Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lloyd Kiva New and the Squaw Dress

Lloyd Kiva New was the first Native American fashion designer to reach national notoriety. A Scottsdale, AZ designer, he was known for his Native American inspired dresses, most specifically the Squaw dress. The Squaw dress style became immediately sought after when New's  works were featured in a July 6, 1953 issue of Life Magazine.

While many variations exist, there are a few defining features which can be considered calling cards of the Squaw dress. The skirts are typically designed in one of three different manners:
  1. A skirt that is slightly gathered and incorporates Navajo patterns into its design.  These skirts usually came with two or three distinctly different bodices to afford the wearer a variety of interchangeable options. 
  2. A "broomstick" skirt, which was ideal for traveling as the skirt could be easily washed and dried in a lady's stocking to create defined pleats.
  3.  A tiered skirt, based on a western style camp dress. To be worn on the patio, these dresses were perfect for invoking the carefree ranch lifestyle of the sunny southwest.
Here is a wonderful video of a fashion newsreel showing off Western Fashions in the 1950's.


By the middle of the 1950's, simple patterns for the Squaw dress were readily available for women everywhere to make and wear their own sunny patio dresses. 

These patio dresses were so popular in the 1940's and 1950's that leftovers are easily found at vintage clothing stores and thrift stores throughout the United States today. Maybe even in your own grandmother's closet! If you have a patio dress, the Spring and Summer months are the perfect time to adorn these beautiful pieces, steeped in Native American inspiration. 


Yesterday's Lady

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