The Killers of the Flower Moon Cast Spotlighted Indigenous Design at Cannes
After making its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this past Saturday, Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon is already garnering serious Oscars buzz. The film—based on David Grann’s 2017 nonfiction book of the same name—is centered around the FBI investigation of a series of murders of Native Americans from the Osage tribe in the 1920s, after oil was discovered on their tribal land. Starring in the tale of greed, corruption, and power are Lily Gladstone, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tantoo Cardinal, and Robert De Niro. The attention for the film is historic, given it’s a rare project in Hollywood that features a largely Indigenous cast, including actors Gladstone, Cardinal, Cara Jade Myers, Janae Collins, Jillian Dion, and Tatanka Means.
It’s no secret that Indigenous representation in mainstream Hollywood has been lacking, though recent projects such as Prey and Reservation Dogs have brought Native talent to the forefront. So to see not one, but several Indigenous stars take over the Cannes Film Festival’s red carpet this weekend has been thrilling. Better yet, many of the cast members have been using their opportunity to highlight Indigenous designers too, bringing a dash of cultural flair through their intentional fashion choices.
It all began on Saturday at the film’s world premiere. Gladstone, whose performance in the film has been widely praised, took to the red carpet in a floral-print Valentino gown, which she punctuated with a pair of dentalium shell earrings from Luiseño and Shoshone-Bannock designer Jamie Okuma, finished with antique glass seed beads, diamond beads, gold, and brain-tanned deer hide (the artist, who hails from the La Jolla Indian Reservation in California, recently became a CFDA member). “I’m so incredibly honored she chose to wear [my earrings] for such a significantly important day for her,” Okuma tells Vogue. “She was able to have that little bit of home, culturally speaking, walk her down the red carpet.”
Gladstone has continued to wear jewelry by Native designers. For the film’s after-party on Saturday, the actor wore a classic black gown with a copper cuff, earrings, and neck plate by Tlingit artist Jennifer Younger. For the film’s photo call on Sunday, Gladstone wore a black caped Chanel ensemble, and again accessorized with Indigenous jewels—this time, a pair of beaded and dentalium earrings by Shelby LeeAnn Gorman. For many of these spotlighted designers, it’s been completely surreal to see their work on an international stage like Cannes. “This has been my dream, to see Tlingit formline design shared on a large platform like this,” Younger tells Vogue. “I hope more people are drawn in to Northwest Coast art when they see my pieces, and they find that the art form is thriving with many amazing Indigenous artists.”
Many of the film’s supporting cast members have also championed Indigenous traditions through style. At the film’s premiere, Cardinal chose veteran Indigenous designer Patricia Michaels to create her dramatic feather-printed ball gown. At the film’s photo call, Cardinal also wore a hand-painted skirt from Red Berry Woman, designed by Norma Baker-Flying Horse. Collins chose a printed dress from Okuma for the photocall, and striking earrings by Keri Ataumbi made of 24-karant gold vermeil over sterling silver; Dion sported a printed dress from Sky Eagle Collection. (The designer, Dante Biss-Grayson, is Osage—a thoughtful nod to the subject matter of the film.)
Given all of these Indigenous stars are in one of the hottest films—if not the hottest film—at Cannes, they could have worn anything by virtually any designer. But their deliberate choices to uplift Indigenous labels, was a standout moment at Cannes thus far. Here’s hoping for even more fabulous displays of cultural pride once the film premieres in October. Ataumbi said it best: “Seeing my work on the red carpet at Cannes made me feel so proud; It made me feel like the telling of our history will not be squashed. The power of fashion, and the power of art, tells our stories and histories.”
Originally Appeared on Vogue