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Eastern Woodlands & Waterways Gown Designed for Afro-Indigenous Conservationist Dr. Sutton Lawerence

Updated: May 17

Dominique Daye Hunter

D. Daye Hunter Designs, LLC has had the extreme pleasure of collaborating with Sew Sew Tsosie in designing an evening gown for Afro-Indigenous conservationist Dr. Alexandra Sutton Lawerence for the 119th Explorers Club Annual Dinner at The Glasshouse (Flagship), NYC.

Alexa (Saponi Nation of Ohio / African American) is a Ph.D. biodiversity ecologist with 14+ years of experience in biodiversity conservation + environmental justice, specialized at working with and within Indigenous, African-American, and Afro-Indigenous communities. Dual advanced degrees in environmental science and humanities (Environment & American Studies).

Dr. and Mr. Alexandra Sutton Lawerence at ECAD 2023. photography by Felix Kunze

This luxurious gown was inspired by the Eastern woodlands and waterways which land rematriation warrior, Alexa, fights to protect. She is on the DEI committee for the Explorers Club.

This olive green, empire waisted, floor length skirt is made from ribbed velvet, lined with gold satin, and is accentuated with a side slit.

The colors and linear pattern represent the summer forests of the mid-Atlantic coastlands.

The cream colored, single-shoulder, satin blouse is adorned with fresh water pearls and 24K gold beadwork in the shape of the Gwynn Falls River and is tacked down with deer sinew.

The outfit is tied together with a satin gold and cream sash belt and fresh water pearl floral broach (purchased separately).

This “gown” comes with a separate top and bottom, so that each piece can be worn separately multiple times, reducing fabric waste. The top can be paired with black dress pants and mother of Pearl earrings. The skirt can be worn with a top more appropriate for winter. It also includes multiple accessory pieces to mix and match for maximum use.

Alexa with fellow Explorers Club DEI committee members. photography by Felix Kunze

"I create impactful environmental change by building authentic and resonant relationships between scientists, marginalized communities, and legislators around the world," shares Dr. Sutton Lawerence. "My inclusive, multilateral approach helps to relieve conflicts over natural resources and develops long-lasting, personal investments in global biodiversity conservation. I also specialize in science communication, with most of my writing centered on global wildlife conservation, and aimed at diverse non-scientific audiences."

"[It was a} tremendous weekend in NY for Earth Day -- so delighted I got to celebrate with the wonderful community that are my fellow committee members at The Explorers Club. It's been a delight and an honor to serve with these folks over the past few years, and it was a true joy to be with them in person at my first ECAD! Photos shot by the inimitable Felix Kunze Photographer; dress by the wildly talented Saponi maker D. Daye Hunter Designs!"

-Dr. Alexandra Sutton Lawerence

Bisé’huk: many thanks to Alexa for inspiring me to create my first gown, and Hená and Loretta for each of your contributions in bringing this piece to life! Biwa also to my sister Shyan for driving me around last minute to get this done. Last but not least, bi:wa Ekue Itani for the gift of vision and beauty. I could not have done this without you all.

Dominique Daye Hunter is an Afro-Indigenous storyteller, artist, and advocate of West African, Yésah (Saponi), Nansemond, Irish, and Polish descent.

The CEO of D. Daye Hunter Designs, LLC she has a B.S. in Nonprofit Leadership Management with an emphasis in American Indian Studies.

Hunter's work explores the complex connections between historical trauma and healing in BIPOC communities. She creates safe spaces for BIWOC, children, neurodivergent individuals, and chronic illness warriors. She lives between North Carolina and Arizona.

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