Rise of the Matriarchy Fashion Show
Dominique Daye Hunter
Last weekend, Saturday, September 24th,
D. Daye Hunter Designs, LLC held its first fashion show “Rise of the Matriarchy" at Afrisoul and Grassroots Bookstore in Phoenix, AZ. The show was part of a larger installment called Reproductive Justice Art Exhibition & Performances hosted by BIPOC Artists 4 Repro Justice AZ.
This free community event included an indoor fine art gallery, an outdoor market, food catered by The Rez: an Urban Eatery, performances, and interactive activities for the whole family.
Reproductive Justice Art Exhibition & Performances was inspired by the recent ruling to make abortion illegal in Arizona. This affront to human rights has major the effects on reproductive healthcare across the board including abortions.
“Rise of the Matriarchy" began with my spoken word performance. I read my poems "Bless the Matriarchy," "She Is," "Just Like You, Sis," and "Hená Minosa."
My visual art, including that of my clothing design, has always been tied with my written and spoken art. It was only fitting that my first fashion show include my poetry, which has always been a form of healing and protest. That was what this space meant to me and many others that evening.
The "Rise of the Matriarchy" show stemmed from my original artwork Bless the Matriarchy. The design is a rose bush in the shape of a reproductive system. There is a larger rose representing the uterus and one smaller rose on each side representing ovaries. The thorns represent the pains womb carriers face and the water droplets represent healing rains. There is a single bee sitting on the central rose. The same environmental injustice that affects our bodies, especially as women of color, also affect our two-legged, four-legged, and winged relatives such as the honey bee.
In displaying the design in multiple forms, my goal is to bring awareness to the lost of reproductive rights in Arizona and in states across he country. I want to remind audiences that not only is abortion healthcare, the banning of abortion causes other health complications for those with wombs. For example, restrictions on contraceptives and Plan B can be life threatening for people with conditions like endometriosis or a history of ectopic pregnancy.
Highlighted ensembles included a two-piece worn by model Taylor Fisher (African American / Caucasian). Both the ribbed, black lace camisole and blue velvet, bootcut boyfriend pants were thrifted and repurposed into a one-of-a-kind streetwear outfit with the phrase "𝑩𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑴𝒂𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒂𝒓𝒄𝒉𝒚" screen printed by me, D. Daye, in gothic font and white print. The top has the phrase printed once across the chest. The phrase is printed five times on the right front pant leg and the left back pant leg, giving a harlequin effect.
This outfit was inspired from memories of my early childhood in the NY/NJ tri-state area. Almost every weekend, my big sister would take my niece and I to the City with my nephews on her hip or toddling along. We’d dash in and out of the fabric district looking for something special for her next project.
In the summer, I remember my sister always looking super cute, head to toe, in high waist camouflage or boyfriend pants like these and a tank top with an army hat- that is until we got out of the Dominican hair salon in Harlem around sunset. She’d shake her freshly permed hair, smile, and ask what we thought. We’d hurriedly give her compliments and remind her that we were so hungry and bored after sitting there for what seemed like an eternity. She’d snap back into mom-mode and pile us in the car to go get some empanadas or jerk chicken.
These days my sister wears her hair natural for the most part. I told the models to wear their hair in whatever way that makes them feel most powerful. I love how Taylor chose to style her hair with natural curls. This organically unfolded as a glimpse of my sister from both past and present.
My sister is a matriarch. She is the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter of the eldest daughter. This one is for you sis.
Model Rocio Aguilar Francis (Diné / Apache / Laguna Pueblo / O'odham) of Morning Mist Soap Co. dons a black, floor length, mermaid shaped skirt dotted with the 𝑩𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑴𝒂𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒂𝒓𝒄𝒉𝒚 pattern. The skirt is see-through and can be worn with a slip added, bike shorts, a bikini, or a sexy thong like Rocio wear here.
This skirt was designed by me, D. Daye, and was patterned and sewn by Hillary of Qawi Designs. It is an honor to have collaborated with her on this! She’s an up and coming Indigenous designer and amazing person that I highly recommend you to support!
I've written a poem to illustrate both the strength of Rocio as a womb carrier, wet nurse, and mother and of so many others.
"She stands with the power of the 1000 matriarchs who have come before her.
She stands in the beauty and elegance of ankle length skirts made with homemade patterns.
She stands in the scandalous ness and freedom of her pre-colonial grandmothers who spoke of their vaginas and their wombs and and their desires and their bleeding cycles without shame.
She stands in the footsteps of countless generations of womb carriers who had to make one of the most difficult choices: to decide whether it was safe or unsafe for allow this rose child to bloom.
She stands amongst those who seek to destroy and imprison her. She lifts her fist to remind them to respect her existence or expect resistance.
She is a matriarch."
Sierra Lewis (African American) of In Herr Element podcast modeled a crème 𝑯𝒆𝒏á: 𝑴𝒐𝒎𝒎𝒂 tee.
Hená means mother in Yésah:sahi. In the Black community, calling our caretakers "Momma" or "Mommie," as my family says, is an endearing title.
The design includes a round Mother of Pearl shell in the background with the words 𝑯𝒆𝒏á: 𝑴𝒐𝒎𝒎𝒂 on the lefthand side. On the right of the graphic, is a gold, iridescent waxing crescent moon. A pair of deep chai brown hands clutch the extended belly that is the rounded shape of the moon.
Additional pieces included:
black 𝑩𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑴𝒂𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒂𝒓𝒄𝒉𝒚 crop top with with turquoise print and matching turquoise 𝑩𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑴𝒂𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒂𝒓𝒄𝒉𝒚 bandeau underneath modeled by Soklar Starr (Diné / Chicana / Irish) of The Unicult
peach 𝑩𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑴𝒂𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒂𝒓𝒄𝒉𝒚 a-line dress, perfect for summer fun or winter layering modeled by Jennifer Honea (African American / Irish)
D. Daye Hunter Designs, LLC x Sew Sew Tsosie collaboration 𝑩𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑴𝒂𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒂𝒓𝒄𝒉𝒚 black jean jacket with red satin lining and red screen printing by D. Daye modeled by Teya Tiger-Johnson (O’odham / Mvskoke)
classic black 𝑩𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑴𝒂𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒂𝒓𝒄𝒉𝒚 graphic tee modeled by Jah Knight (African American)
soft, stretchy turquoise 𝑩𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑴𝒂𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒂𝒓𝒄𝒉𝒚 pencil skirt with a matching black 𝑩𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑴𝒂𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒂𝒓𝒄𝒉𝒚 bandeau modeled by Harlie Jackson (African American / Caucasian)
white off the shoulder 𝑩𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑴𝒂𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒂𝒓𝒄𝒉𝒚 top with turquoise print modeled by Racquel Manuelito (Diné)
orchid colored 𝑯𝒆𝒏á: 𝑴𝒐𝒎𝒎𝒂 tee modeled by Momma Layal & baby (Syrian + Armenian)
Bilahu’k: thank you to my collaborators Loretta of Sew Sew Tsosie and Hillary of Qawi Designs, and photographer and sales specialist Shelly Benally of IMCASTERR.
Bilahu’k, many thank you's to the fierce models, fellow artists, BIPOC Artists 4 Repro Justice AZ coordinators, Black Lives Matter Phoenix Metro for sponsoring, Afri-Soul Market for graciously hosting, and each and every community member for making the first D. Daye Hunter Designs, LLC fashion show so powerful, meaningful, and memorable.
We are resilient and will continue to stand together as a community to care for one another until #reproductivejustice is served.
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.