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Decontie and Brown's venture in high fashion design

Decontie and Brown's venture in high fashion design

A story by Decontie and Brown from 2017

Donna Decontie Brown and Jason Brown driving to Standing Rock, ND, 2016

Decontie & Brown is the married duo, Donna Decontie Brown (Penobscot/Algonquin) and Jason Brown (Penobscot). We grew up together on Indian Island, in the Penobscot Nation. We met at Donna's 5th birthday party, but didn't marry until 25 years later.

We have both gained a variety of career experiences over the past 20 years, before we made the leap into becoming jewelry and fashion designers. Jason studied at the Institute of American Indian Art (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and was a 2016 recipient of a First People's Fund award. Donna has a Master's degree in Social Work.

We started with basics, such as bead stringing and beadwork, and then started making more complex jewelry from metal and stones. We then moved into fashion design. Our work may not scream "Native American", but we do think it says "Wabanaki" (a term used to describe the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot Tribes). Our culture is our creative spark, and our work is a celebration of our heritage and the Penobscot design aesthetic.

Jason started an apprenticeship with Navajo jewelry Jesse Monongya in 2017, which raised my lapidary skills to a whole new level. I drive by a blueberry field now and think, 'I can inlay that,'.

The Wabanaki Vines series is inspired by traditional beadwork patterns of the Wabanaki people. The vine pattern is a signature look created by Decontie & Brown. Each jewelry piece is hand fabricated from raw materials and finished in a micro hammered texture, giving them an ancient aesthetic while maintaining their modern design.  We use .935 Argentium silver in our adornment because of its wonderful properties. Argentium silver is finer than Sterling silver, it is highly tarnish resistant, hypoallergenic and is made from 100% reclaimed silver making it easier on the environment.

The Wabanaki Vines gown is handmade, depicting the double curve design so prevalent in Penobscot artwork, and is meticulously hand-beaded with traditional vine and fiddlehead motifs. We designed the gown to have a springtime feel, and this particular shade of green reminds us of new leaves unfurling after a long winter sleep.

Donna Decontie Brown and Jason Brown
Wabanaki Vines dress, 2017
Wabanaki Vines earrings, 2017