Sunday, September 24, 2017

Shania Russell of Garryowen sits with her 4-year-old son Kyson late Tuesday afternoon at a park along Center Avenue in Hardin. Both are holding a copy of Allure magazine which shows a photograph of Russell near her Garryowen home.Linsay Willier (left), Shania Russell (center) and Gabrielle Lopez model clothing, accessories and quilts from Los Angeles fashion designer Bethany Yellowtail’s B.Yellowtail line.Shania Russell stands with her horses behind her Garryowen home during a recent Allure magazine photo shoot.

‘It’s about time’

Crow model Shania Russell represents ‘The Natural Beauty’ in Allure magazine
Seven years ago, a 14-year-old Shania Russell of Garryowen donned a black lace top and gold satin skirt, and prepared to walk the runway at the Beyond Buckskin fashion show in Las Vegas. Thousands would be watching. She was a bundle of nerves, both on and off the runway.
 
“I always wish I could go back and do it again with what I know now,” she said. “Everybody has to start somewhere.”
 
Now age 21, the Crow tribal member has continued in her modeling career, learning “my good angles and my bad angles…and how to do my walk.” Those in the Native American fashion industry and beyond noticed.
 
Russell was featured June 22 in Allure, a women’s beauty magazine whose monthly circulation sits at more than 1.1 million people. Her father bought a copy at an Atlanta, Ga. airport.
 
Russell’s picture in the magazine, taken by Lauren Ward, shows her in a field behind her house in a white top, and floral dress and shawl. Three of her horses are nearby and – though it’s hidden behind her – she also brought a bucket of oats to feed them.
 
The article, written by the magazine staff, is entitled, “How We’re Redefining Beauty in America Today” and focuses on “iconic innovations” in the realm of beauty. Russell’s picture, the article indicates, exemplifies “The Natural Beauty.”
 
“I live on a reservation. I see Wolf Mountain to my left, Bighorn to the right, and the hills in my backyard were Little Bighorn Battlefield,” she states in the article. “I learned to value the land, not destroy it. Appreciating all aspects of life – my culture, my family, the mountains – that’s American beauty. It’s a way of life.”
 
Allure, she said, wished to keep the photo shoot focused on “my own environment in my clothes,” though she added beadwork to her wrists from Crow Agency artist Brocade Stops Black Eagle. The Allure photographer flew in from New York for the job.
 
Bethany Yellowtail, who first recruited Russell to the stage at the Beyond Buckskin show, was pleased to see her in Allure after watching her “evolve” as a model. 
 
“My first thought was, ‘Good. It’s about time,’” Yellowtail said. “She should be there. It’s so fitting for her.”
 
“She’s really lovely and professional. You can tell she loves to model and has put in a lot of work.”
 
Yellowtail, of Crow and Northern Cheyenne descent, was born in Wyola – about 30 miles from Russell. As Russell continued her modeling career, Yellowtail worked her way up the corporate fashion ladder and, in January 2015, she established the B.Yellowtail clothing line in Los Angeles. 
 
Russell continues to collaborate with Yellowtail and has, over the years, noticed the fashion designer strengthen the Native American elements in her designs. According to Russell, she would like to see more Native designs and models enter the public consciousness.
 
“People I don’t even talk to [say], ‘I’m so proud of you,’ and I get it,” Russell said. “Even if I didn’t know me – which is kind of weird to say – I would be proud of someone being a Native American to be doing what they love and actually achieving it.”
 
“Everybody has a passion and everybody has something they love to do,” she continued. “If you’re good at it and it drives you, I think that’s definitely something you should go for.”
 
Russell’s story in Allure is available online at www.allure.com/story/redefining-american-beauty.
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