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HomeCultureArts & CultureXavier Toehay performs in Louis Vuitton show during Paris Fashion Week

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Xavier Toehay performs in Louis Vuitton show during Paris Fashion Week

Toehay can also be seen in "Killers of the Flower Moon," Marvel's "Echo" and "Reservation Dogs"

Osage actor, dancer and singer Xavier Toehay performed in Pharrell Williams’ Louis Vuitton spring menswear fashion show to open Paris Fashion Week. The show was Williams’ third and themed the American West.

This past January, Toehay performed at the fashion show alongside friends and relatives from the powwow trail, with whom he was scouted in 2023 at the Prairie Island Indian Community Wacipi (powwow) in Minnesota. According to reports, around 1,200 guests attended the show at Jardin d’Acclimatation behind Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris.

The show included a performance by the Native Voices of Resistance — a powwow group of singers. Folk rock band Mumford & Sons performed straight after, joined by Williams.

Williams said that he does not put responsibility for shaping culture on individuals—or even the greater fashion sector—but “leads by example,” as told to Vogue China. For this show, he wanted participants who he saw as good role models, and told a source that Xavier was chosen, in part, because of his responsibilities as a Grayhorse Inlonshka Tail Dancer and also an Oh-ho-mah Lodge pipe dancer in the Kiowa Fancy Dance Society.

Toehay, Osage/Kiowa/Comanche, grew up in Anadarko, Okla., and is from the Mary Osage Green family of the Grayhorse District. His family participates in the Inlonshka every year.

Pharrell works with 55 different departments as the creative director at Louis Vuitton. The Fall-Winter 2024 show brought a very diverse, exclusive audience to witness Native American culture. Among VIP attendees at the show were Xavier’s own family, including his grandmother Candice Toehay and great-grandmother Dolores “DeeDee” Goodeagle, who wore a designer dress by NyiK’omi Kennetha Greenwood to the show. Most in attendance at the event wore Louis Vuitton, and many carried a large LV bag, noted Candice Toehay. “And I hardly ever dress up, but I dressed up,” she said.

Xavier and his family were duly impressed by the top-level security, luxury treatment, and exclusive guests attending the Paris show. Candice’s mother DeeDee said, “We went to support Xavier, who wore a designer shirt and pants, and he was fitted just for the show, everything was fitted for him, and he was received very well. They noticed him at a powwow,” she said. “They saw him straight dance at Prairie Island and they chose him from there to come and model for Louis Vuitton. We were just excited. I couldn’t get over it. I was so proud that they picked him and we supported him all the way.”

As the family prepared passports and readied for the show, they knew next to nothing about what Xavier’s participation in the show would comprise of; but they were pleased with the respect that Pharrell and the entire LV team showed their family as soon as they arrived. “It was almost like a surprise, we had no idea what he was going to do,” said Candice Toehay. “But he treated my mother very well, we were all treated very well.”

Toehay said that when they first arrived, after getting situated at their hotel and relaxing, they went to a studio to see Xavier rehearse. “And I mean, [the studio] was huge. Everybody came together, we all showed up on the same day. We were right there with him all the way.”

Xavier rehearsed and performed along with hand drummers, singers and dancers from far flung locations all over the United States and Canada. Candice Toehay said they prepared well, with the utmost professionalism. “They probably practiced four days straight, from morning time ‘til evening time. It wasn’t just like you go out there and do whatever. They had a certain amount of time to do it in, but they also practiced it every day.”

After Xavier attended rehearsals, the family was taken to places to eat each day, and they cherished the experience. The fashion show was not Xavier’s first time performing, as he has modeled in New York and Oklahoma, and appears in Marvel’s “Echo,” “Killers of the FlowerMoon,” and“Reservation Dogs.” The powwow trail also helped to prepare him for performing professionally, said Candice Toehay. “We go all over the United States. We go to California, we go to San Diego Barona, Morongo, Pachanga, we go like that. … We go to Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas powwows. We go to Minnesota, Alabama, I mean we go all over. … Mostly we go to the Casino powwows,” where Xavier competes in both Junior Men’s Southern Straight, and Junior Men’s Fancy. He is one among eight dancers in his family who range from the tiny tot to golden age categories.

Whenever Xavier travels for a powwow, he takes both dance outfits, and he decides whether to dance Southern straight or Southern fancy as the competition nears. Xavier’s mother Chay Toehay-Tartsah noted that while those unfamiliar with a powwow may not know, Southern tribes actually have a cultural connection to fancy dancing that is distinct, sovereign, and unlike fancy dancing coming from Northern tribes. “You can tell if a Northern dancer comes and tries to compete in the Southern [fancy dance competition],” she said. “Just knowing that Southern fancy is for Southern style. That category of Southern style fancy has been around.”

Xavier’s grandmother Candice was surprised that Xavier was scouted for Louis Vuitton while competing at a powwow, but she said they trusted that the offer was not a hoax, because Chay knew the scout. In addition to a priority in scouting dancers and singers who are drug-free, alcohol-free, and stay away from a lot of partying, Xavier was a good candidate because he is well-versed in new dance trends, such as the “sweetheart” team dancing style which is newly emerging at powwows.

“I thought it was fire. It was pretty cool,” Xavier said, and noted the hand-stitching on the clothes LV provided stood out to him, along with the logos interspersed with Native designs. He met rappers including Pusha T, Quavo and recalled that one of the most special parts of the experience was seeing designers, artists and celebrities in awe of Native American culture.

On the day of the performance, Xavier remembered waking up to sunshine after several days of cloudy weather, and felt a distinctly bright, positive mood dawning as he joined friends eating breakfast, and getting into custom Louis Vuitton outfits.

After they arrived on location and saw the layout for the show, they greeted British rock band Mumford and Sons who were arriving for their own rehearsals to perform.

As models began to arrive, the gravity of the event sank in. “It was just pretty surreal, once the night hit and all the models were there getting their hair done.”

“It kind of came up quick, we were enjoying our time, pep-talking, everybody going through their routines, making sure everything was good. We got that situated and the night came, and they started calling us fifteen minutes before the show started. That was when everybody was getting jumpy, we had a couple of singers who were talking us through it.”  

“We took it as a powwow in a way, normal day, we’re singing.”

“The fits were roomy, baggy for us,” he said, and he performed in a way that made his family proud. In the wake of his new experiences, Xavier hopes to model at the Southwest American Indian Art (SWAIA) Runway show in Santa Fe, N.M. He usually attends the Shakopee powwow, which overlaps with SWAIA’s “Indian Market” events, but this year, he plans to prioritize modeling. He dreams of walking for Lauren Good Day (laurengoodday.com), of whom he says, “She has some good designs.” Xavier is also following a new brand called Tópa (4topa4.com), which promotes empowerment in both wellness and identity.

Opportunities for Native actors and performers are likely to keep coming in at powwows, where Xavier heard information circulated on applications for Echo. “They were talking about that a lot at Denver [March Powwow],” he said. While the young dancer and performer was first experienced as a powwow traveler, he is now becoming increasingly so in fashion and film. Favorite aspects of the professional and powwow trail for Xavier Toehay include getting to travel, meeting new people, and “seeing old homies from different states, that you barely get to see them.”

And for powwow, another favorite part is all the different singling styles, Northern and Southern alike. “Durant’s always dope,” he said. “Because it’s in Oklahoma, the only big powwow.” Find him there, and also on screen.

https://www.instagram.com/reel/C2fYm2cr2RY/?igsh=bDZ4azJjajg2dGdw&fbclid=IwAR1_UWoV1GG-ow94U3et3ehuBx11YFtWmBbo3MZWc0klNQce1atehhZx8rAhttps://www.facebook.com/dustin.tartsah/videos/389699130234713/

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Chelsea T. Hicks
Chelsea T. Hickshttps://osagenews.org
Title: Staff Reporter
Email: chelsea.hicks@osagenation-nsn.gov
Languages spoken: English
Chelsea T. Hicks’ past reporting includes work for Indian Country Today, SF Weekly, the DCist, the Alexandria Gazette-Packet, Connection Newspapers, Aviation Today, Runway Girl Network, and elsewhere. She has also written for literary outlets such as the Paris Review, Poetry, and World Literature Today. She is Wahzhazhe, of Pawhuska District, belonging to the Tsizho Washtake, and is a descendant of Ogeese Captain, Cyprian Tayrien, Rosalie Captain Chouteau, Chief Pawhuska I, and her iko Betty Elsey Hicks. Her first book, A Calm & Normal Heart, won the 5 Under 35 Award from the National Book Foundation. She holds an MA from the University of California, Davis, and an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts.
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