Patricia Michaels, a celebrated fashion designer from New Mexico, is a featured artist for the AIMEE LACALLE 2017 fall collection. For over twenty years, Patricia has been creating original couture pieces that embody her unique aesthetic and dedication to her Native American roots.
A contemporary vision rooted in tradition
“If it’s coming from your heart, your work will be good,” Patricia Michaels tells us on the porch of her New Mexico home. We’re visiting the award-winning fashion designer to get a sneak-peek at the artwork for her upcoming AIMEE LACALLE collaboration. From where we stand, there are dramatic views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range, yet we cannot keep our eyes off of the painted squares of silk hanging from the eaves. An afternoon breeze ripples through the original, hand-painted designs that will soon be available as duvets, wallpapers, pillow shams, and other textiles.
Combining a contemporary style with her strong cultural ties may have been a clear artistic direction for Patricia, but it hasn’t always been an easy one. When she first began designing, she was told her pieces weren’t “native” enough. While frustrated by the demands and expectations of how Native American art should look, Patricia remained true to her vision and continued to create based on her own personal perspective.
Patricia has always drawn inspiration from nature, something she learned growing up in the Native American village of Taos Pueblo.
Patricia has always drawn inspiration from nature, something she learned growing up in the Native American village of Taos Pueblo. The centuries-old community fostered a deep reverence for the natural world, which is evident in her artwork. Common imagery includes antlers, feathers, flowers, seeds, and aspens. She considers these traditional icons representative of her ancestry, but also universal shapes and symbols. She shows us an example—one of her duvet cover designs featuring stylized eagle feathers. “The feathers are shooting down,” she explains, “so that you have a destination.” She imagines someone in bed, looking down at the sharp lines of the feathers and hopes that person will feel inspired to move forward and trust his or her own path.
Patricia continues showing us artwork featured in her AIMEE LACALLE designs, including a fabric painting of aspens that will become a pillow sham design. Aspens feature heavily in Patricia’s pieces, as they do in her tribe’s culture and traditions. “For us, it’s a beautiful, sacred tree,” she explains. Patricia wants the aspens featured in her designs to help us see the beauty in our own diversity. “You start to think about how each tree is different, and then that makes us all different in our world,” Patricia tells us. “We all have something beautiful to share.”