By Sara Barnes on September 15, 2021
Among all of the glitz, glamour, and wild fashions seen at this year’s Met Gala, one attendee has been making waves on social media ever since she was seen there. Indigenous model and activist Quannah Chasinghorse went viral after users started circulating photos of her appearance at the event known as “fashion’s biggest night out.”
At 19 years old, Chasinghorse is a rising star in the modeling industry. Before the Met Gala, she had walked during the 2021 New York Fashion Week for designers Gabriela Hearst, Prabal Gurung, and Jonathan Simkhai.
Her presence in the fashion industry is bringing much-needed representation for Indigenous people. Chasinghorse is of Hän Gwich’in (from Alaska and Canada) and Oglala Lakota (from South Dakota) ancestry, and her ensemble at the benefit gala was a reflection of that. Her flowing gold lamé dress was paired with layered pieces of turquoise jewelry that came from her “aunty” Jocelyn Billy-Upshaw’s personal collection and featured Navajo artists from across the Southwest. “The turquoise jewelry represents protection, guidance, and love in Navajo culture,” explains Chasinghorse. “I grew up close to Navajo people and culture.”
Chasinghorse’s facial tattoos, known as Yidįįłtoo, are another way in which she honors her culture. The traditional hand-poked designs were done by her mother (tradition dictates they be done by a woman) and commemorate events in one’s life. Chasinghorse’s tattoos are on her chin and at the corner of her eyes.
“It was amazing to be able to be there and represent Indigenous people,” Chasinghorse says of the gala. “Before I got to the Met, I was listening to Native music and artists to help me feel more empowered, and I was extremely excited to show the world the beauty of native indigenity.”
Having a seat at the table was the most important part of her first Met Gala. “I’m constantly breaking those barriers and stereotypes that are meant to harm my people and make us feel less than human. It was refreshing to feel empowered in a space where I wouldn’t have been welcomed if it was a decade ago,” adds Chasinghorse. “I really wanted to be able to get some visibility and show the world that we are still here.”
Indigenous model and activist Quannah Chasinghorse went viral appearing at the 2021 Met Gala, where she dazzled in jewelry honoring her Navajo artists from across the Southwest.
People on social media praised Chasinghorse and made her go viral.