IAIA Alumni Put Fashion Feet Forward

By Kamella Bird-Romero

Fashion designers sat runway side for last year’s IAIA Trash Bash. The annual fall fashion show, hosted by IAIA’s Student Sustainability Leadership, showcased gowns, bikinis, and street wear constructed of only recycled materials, designed and modeled by students.

The show was intended to encourage recycling on campus, but it also caught the eye of two established Native designers, Pilar Agoyo and David Gaussoin, both IAIA alumni.   The two say the show sparked the education fire in them.

Trashbash Fashion show 2012.  Photo courtesy of Sasha LaPointe
Trashbash Fashion show 2012. Photo courtesy of Sasha LaPointe

“I totally got inspired by the Trash Bash,” Pilar Agoyo says of last year’s show. “I came on a whim.”  She will be in attendance this year and says the show made her actually think about coming back to school.

Gaussoin, Navajo and Picuris, is a contemporary jeweler and fashion designer who sells at Indian Market and the Heard Museum, and is featured in jewelry collections across the country.

Impressed, he, too, plans to be back for this year’s Trash Bash scheduled November 15.

Agoyo and Gaussoin credit IAIA with being the right springboard for their artistic careers.

Agoyo’s Start in Fashion Design

 Agoyo is a costume designer in the movie industry with her own lines of unique evening wear, handbags, menswear, and street wear.

 From Ohkay Owingeh, Cochiti and Santo Domingo Pueblos, Agoyo’s styles are influenced by her heritage, incorporating dragonflies, avanyu serpents and strong geometric patterns.

She attended IAIA and received her associates of fine arts degree in 2D and 3D fashion design in 1989. Originally studying painting, her focus shifted after taking textile and weaving classes. Her advisor and primary instructor during her two-year program was Wendy Ponca, an Osage fashion designer, who spurred her interest in using unorthodox supplies.

The program was primarily focused on traditional clothing-making techniques. Students made pow wow outfits, jingle dresses and ribbon shirts, and traveled to Cincinnati and Kansas to participate in university panels where they would show their work and educate others on Native clothing.

Expanding the Boundaries

 Agoyo and her IAIA peers let their work flow beyond the classroom into self-produced fashion shows at local venues in Santa Fe.  Fellow students would model; photography students would photograph the shows.

 The inspiration and creative energies while at IAIA were limitless, Agoyo says. Her classmates and friends included Patricia Michaels, now a Taos designer fresh off the TV design show Project Runway, season 11, and Marcus Amerman, a designer, and bead and glass worker.

Agoyo was a judge for this year’s Southwestern Indian Arts Association’s clothing contest and was a feature designer in the summer’s Idyllwild Fashion Show.   Always exposed to the latest fashions, Agoyo says she was intrigued by the diverse styles created by IAIA’s new generation.

Bringing Business and Art Together

A David Gaussoin fashion design.  Photo courtesy of Thosh Collins
A David Gaussoin fashion design. Photo courtesy of Thosh Collins

Gaussoin, who attended IAIA from 1995-1997, came a different route than Agoyo.   He experimented in multiple degree programs and attended IAIA as a break from his curriculum at UNM. His education ranges widely from a business degree to pre-medical biochemistry and physics.

While at IAIA he says he realized that some artwork simply needs to be displayed on the body, and clothing was the complimentary answer. By the late 90’s there was no longer a fashion program so he took a hand couture production class at Santa Fe Community College, and for embroidery basics, his grandmother was his go-to woman.

Gaussoin says IAIA made him realize that it is was possible to be a professional artist and that often times many people are good artists, but not great business people.

Today, he is his own boss in control of the business aspect of his jewelry and fashions. Of his creative process and marketing, he says, “Nobody can tell me what’s right or wrong.”

“Just Go, Go, Go.”

 An adjunct instructor at IAIA teaching beginning jewelry and senior portfolio, he encourages his students to take risks and push beyond the norm. “I love to teach because I can see the transformation the students go through.”

He attributes his mother, globally recognized jeweler Connie Tsosie-Gaussoin, with instilling a sense of pride in fellow artists. She taught him not to be afraid to share and to always encourage the young people.

He will continue to practice both lessons by attending this year’s Trash Bash so he can “stay current” on the new generation’s visions. He says more upcoming designers need to be driven like Patricia Michaels and “just go, go, go.”

He is enthusiastic about student designers. “Do it now,” he advises.   “Fashion is hot right now. People are interested right now.”

With two designers looking out for IAIA’s future in fashion, this year’s Trash Bash could impact more than just our campus community.


Copyright ©IAIA CHRONICLE 2013


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