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Designs by Patricia Michaels

Internationally acclaimed Native American designer Patricia Michaels of Taos Pueblo, incorporates nature, environment and cultural tradition into contemporary fashions


Our cover photo "No Trespassing" by Patricia Michaels


This is a photo taken from Michael's fabric printing table, it has a strong image of "Anasazi" lighting storm pattern with the beginning growth of vegetation as an added part on the design. The orange colors are some of the dyes from other fabrics.

"Waterlily 2 Piece" The bottom of the skirt is made of Silk Organza with an overlay of China Silk, cut in the shape of a big waterlilies. The top is bamboo off the shoulder with hand painted blue watering holes.

The Modern off the shoulder Ink Drip Dress/Blouse, is from Soy with hand painted ink drips. This is inspired from the
impurities pored into our water resources.

The double layered top made of bamboo and hand painted
for my spring summer collection is called "The Watering Hole" It is inspired from living in the desert and having what little water we have as sacred. The dark blue is from a tank off the shoulder top, which can be worn alone. The "Wool Chain" is inspired by Coco Channel's gold chains but as a Native, Michaels did it in wool.



"Weathered Text" is made from Silk Organza, Silk/Rayon Velvet and Hemp canvas.  Michaels wanted this series of "Weathered Text" to have the feeling of what nature does to man made materials. When one is in the city and you will find nature in the way that she wears and tears away at the city scape. Nature finds it's way.

Weathered text detail, the text on this reads: "No Trespassing By order of Taos Pueblo Warchiefs Office. Hunting
Fishing Woodcutting Motorbikes and Camping are Prohibited".

 "Circular Dress" This circular dress is made from Leather, Leather covered buttons, Silk Charmeuse and Crinkled Silk Chiffon. I love this drees because I've done it in many materials for all different sizes and it always looks great! In Native culture the circle takes on many uses and meanings.


Patricia Michaels

Patricia Michael’s Work: PM Waterlily

My ideas of “green” are really blue. My ideas come from water. When there are obstacles, I go back to my given name, Water Lily, and things become clear. It is not so different from how, as Pueblo people, we can look back to a protective past. We consider our source, Blue Lake. Our water remains pure and clean.

Water is wild—it deepens canyon and creates rapids. But it is gentle, too, at the mercy of wherever it goes, forced to pick up toxins and pesticides. Water is not life giving; it is life itself.

I want my clothing designs to be timeless and fluid, reflecting the nature of water. I want them to bring the past into the present, and into the future. I try to respect fabric so that it moves and breathes like water, and I hope my clients can sense this deeper awareness. My latest work reflects nature’s place in urban life, reminding us that nature finds its way everywhere.


I create highly individualized pieces that are elegant, fluid, sophisticated and organic by fusing my own aesthetic with indigenous and European perspectives.  The detail of every garment, from hand-painted silk feathers, and meshed  leather to textures that echo the natural world, I evoke my own history and culture as part of a larger timeless narrative.  Each design tells a story. Just as a river is pierced by a tree branch, time is momentarily anchored within the garment. Each piece is created, is worn, and continues to create fresh new meanings into the future. Every person brings his or her own sense of self into the narrative and enriches the meaning. In this way, we might defy the consumerist sense of fashion as something we can put on, take off, and casually cast aside.

About Patricia Michaels

Widely traveled, well educated and inexhaustibly creative, Patricia Michaels is a traditional Native American woman who is a style-maker at the forefront of modern fashion design and aesthetics. She creates boldly hip designs with a quality of timeless elegance by blending her heritage with the inspiration she draws from the ever-changing world around her.

Patricia came into the world on the same day that her mother danced in a buckskin dress at the opening of her new gallery in downtown Santa Fe.  After performing in the heavy beaded garment, went into labor.  As a child, Patricia remembers playing among giant stacks of Navajo rugs in the back room of that gallery.  This was the first contact she had with the richness of Native American  textiles.

Later, Patricia was drawn to the world of fashion design and studied at the Institute of American Indian Art and the Chicago Art Institute. She has lived and worked in New York and Italy. As an up and coming designer, she understands that tradition and modernity combine to move forward the dynamic and creative cultures of native peoples (and in fact all cultures). This is the vision that Patricia has carried with her throughout her career, and it clearly shows in her work

Of her creative process Patricia says, “I don’t own traditional culture. I am just fortunate to participate. The pure enjoyment and love I feel through this participation, and my many travels create the form, the shapes, cuts, textures and imagery of my designs.”

Patricia's commitment to both fashion and heritage has manifested itself over the course of her career.  she has worked with the Kellogg Foundation on a cultural and economic exchange project to promote Native American and South African fashion designers and artists.  In August 2005 she, along with other native and African designers participated in an international cultural fashion show during Santa Fe's annual Indian Market.  In November, the Aboriginal Awards Festival.  In July 2007, she once again collaborated with South African designers, this time traveling to Johannesburg, where she served as the assistant director for the second cultural exchange show in the Kellogg-sponsored project.

Patricia lives and works in Taos, New Mexico where, in her studio, she produces: custom tailored avant-garde fashions, high-end limited edition apparel, and ready- to-wear lines for men and women—as well as surface designs, including fabric for interiors.

Photos by Jennifer Esperanza.  To se more of Jennifer's work, please visit her website www.jenniferesperanza.com

For more info and designs by Patricia Michaels visit her website www.pmwaterlily.com



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