Oakley Rain Wysote Gray – Highlighting Ancestors’ Stories through Fashion
Oakley Rain Wysote Gray is originally from right here in Listuguj. Wysote Gray identifies as two-spirited, and their pronouns are They/Them. They discovered they were passionate about fashion at a young age. “I have a vivid memory from when I was a kid where I would make clothes out of paper for myself,” laughed Wysote Gray. From here, they realized there was no Indigenous representation when it came to fashion. They went on to attend the New Brunswick College of Craft & Design in Fredericton, where they graduated from three separate programs: Aboriginal Visual Arts, Fashion Design, and the Advanced Studio Practice graduate program.
Wysote Gray has developed a very powerful brand called “Gigpesan” – meaning Rain. The brand comes with two collections: Mei Eimotieg Part 1, and Mei Eimotieg Part 2. Mei Eimotieg means “We Are Still Here” and these collections embody that entirely. Part 1 of the collection, started off with all-white pieces –they said this is to represent Indigenous people pre-invasion. The white pieces are then stained with the bloodshed of ancestors and the ink of the Indian act. “The whole idea of the collection is to visualize the trauma that we all wear underneath,” said Wysote Gray. The pieces help bring awareness to the systemic racism and colonization that Indigenous people are still facing today.
Wysote Gray will be debuting ready-to-wear pieces soon. They will be a more wearable version of the high fashion, beaded pieces from his current collections. They will be debuting five new pieces at the New Brunswick College of Craft & Design’s fashion show in May 2023.
Alongside working on their fashion brand and collections, Wysote Gray has recently taken on a mentorship program at the Atlantic Ballet of Canada in Moncton. They have been working in Costume Production for the upcoming production of “Pisuwin: A Wolastostoqiyik Story.”
Their impactful work has gotten a lot of attention, and they have gone on to win the BMO 1st Art Award in 2022.
When asked if they had any advice to give to anyone interested in starting up in fashion design, they said, “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.” They also mentioned that it is important to express yourself in your work, including topics that others may find controversial.
If you’d like to see the Gigpesan brand in its entirety, visit www.gigpesan.com, or look for them on Instagram.
By Ann Marie Jacques
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!