Many Flavors Inspire Santa Fe Fashions
from the roaring '20s to the present, there are traces of Indian, Spanish and "Old West" ingredients
(excerpted from the Santa Fean magazine, Spetember, 1989)
Most Santa Fe fashion experts trace Santa Fe style back to the roaring 20s when Alice Corbin Henderson copied a Navajo style velvet shirt for poet Witter Bynner. Then in the 1930s, her daughter, Alice Henderson Evans (later Rossini) invented the bandanna dress and sold them in Santa Fe and in New York City, where Best and Co. advertised them as the perfect costume for camping, ranching, gardening or roughing it." Her competitor was Agnes James, who sold her version of the bandanna dress to a loyal following, mostly Texans.
By the 1950s, a dozen women were busy anglicizing wild west, Spanish and Indian costumes. Their shops in downtown Santa Fe, Tesuque and out of their homes purveyed hoe-down bandannas, buffalo hunter blouses with eyelet bibs, a Seminole shirt with round yokes, and, of course, the ubiquitous broomstick skirt
Rickrack trimmed squaw dresses with flounce tops and Fiesta dresses followed, and were soon joined by more and more adaptations, which included flamenco dresses and bolero jackets. Santa Fe styles were sold from Elitas Tesuque Trading Post to Saks and Bonwit Teller.
Today squaw dresses, Fiesta dresses and hoe down costumes remain high style whether vintage designs by Elita, or by her many followers today.
Nancy Bouchér Guerriero of Bouchér Chaps named her business after a famous ancestor whom she describes as the French painter of kewpie dolls and cherubs. A witty name indeed for a designer whose clothes fit strong adventurous Southwestern women.
Born in Dallas, Nancy grew up watching her father and Stanley Marcus of Neiman Marcus making clothes together and soon followed suit. But it was not until she came to Santa Fe that her signature style was born. I met mountain people living and working like it was the 1830s and saw two hides drying on a fence. That was it.
Today she is renowned for deerskin vests and jackets, saddlebag purses, fringed leggings, whip stitched gloves, Killim vests and the painted leather teddy bears called Bou bears. For trim its silver conchos and buttons. Nancy loves the casual look of long swinging fringe, asymmetrical draping, holes and slashes, and might sometimes burn the edges for a Santa Fe punk rock look. Recently she created costumes for a shaman to use in a sun ceremony and a wedding gown of buckskin and lace.
Whether their designs shout Santa Fe style, New Age costuming, wearable art or looks in Vogue, hundreds of designers work and sell in Santa Fe. Whats more, that Santa Fe label appears to be an asset anywhere in the world.