Headdress Defended by TLC Designer: Groom is Native, Bride is Native-Inspired

Vincent Schilling

Headdress Defended by TLC Wedding Designer: Groom is Native, Bride is Native-Inspired

Dress designer Sondra Celli created a Cherokee-themed dress and a Native American-influenced headdress for Hunter and Dalton Smith on the reality series My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding.

In an exclusive interview with ICTMN, Celli said that the ‘Native-inspired’ headdress was made by her design team, and the headdress for the groom — who claims Native ancestry — was purchased from a Native American company over the internet.

Celli told ICTMN because the groom was Native American, she did not alter any of the groom’s outfit and that he approved of the bride’s outfit.

See Related: Native Headdresses in TLC’s ‘Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding’?

Courtesy and TLC Promo

According to designer Sondra Celli left) – the bridal headdress is Native-influenced and the headdress for the groom — who claims Native ancestry — was not altered.

“Because he is Native American we made sure we bought a true Native American headpiece made by Native Americans. We bought him a true Native American shirt made by Native Americans. I made sure it came from an authentic Native American company.”

What about the bride’s wedding outfit?

She is a gypsy. Hunter is a cowgirl and would not give up her boots. I told her, ‘I am going to Sondra Celli you up’ and I made her a Native American-inspired dress … and [the groom] was real cool with her being her. I am very respectful of the fact he is Native American. This is what they told me — please understand that I am just the designer.

I made sure we did not touch his headpiece and it stayed exactly the way we bought it. The shirt is exactly the way we bought it. We ordered it on the Internet from a Native American company.

I made her headpiece, and the girl who works for me studies Native Americans. She put all of those feathers on. Like we say on television, it is native-inspired. We do not say this is a Native American costume. This is a Sondra Celli gypsy rhinestone costume that is inspired by Native Americans.

She didn’t wear moccasins; she wore cowboy boots; she rode in on a white horse on bareback. This girl is a cowgirl. Hunter even gave me the skin that I used in the making of her dress. The idea is that she is a hunter and a cowgirl.

For her I figured I could do whatever I want, she is a cowgirl. She’s not Native American so I figured if she wants to wear something she could wear whatever she wants to wear.

What is your response to Native people that say this is appropriating Native culture?

I think the fact that their clothing is so beautiful and the detail is so beautiful, they should be accepting of the fact that we borrowed from their clothing. I said “inspired” through the whole show. I never said it was authentic Native American clothing, not once.

I don’t find a problem with putting something inspired from the beauty of Native American clothes on someone who is not Native American. They should be honored that we think their clothing is so beautiful, that we took some of the colors from it.

This is a TV show, so you have to take it for what it is. I do not believe this dishonors people. I would never do that.

I’ve taken the idea of kimonos from Japan and they are rhinestoned. I never say they are Japanese kimonos. I say they are inspired.

Every designer from all over the world has taken ideas from Native Americans.

The PBS Museum just had an exhibit, Native American designers that have come into the modern world made Native American inspired clothing with plastic metal who are getting ideas in a way from our world and made really cool clothes with beading. I was blown away.

I think they were inspired by what we do in the modern [world].

I am not the only designer in the world who has taken ideas — this is the world of design. We’ve taken designs from ancient Rome, everyone takes ideas from somewhere.

As much as I admire their craft, I think they should admire the fact that I took the ideas that they have and turn it into something modern for someone who is not Native American.

Would you consider having a Native designer on the show to share cultural considerations in the design process?

Absolutely, that would be awesome. We never had a gypsy marry a Native American before, so there was never any intention to subvert anyone’s culture, but this is an over-the-top show.

Follow ICTMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wow’s and Sports Editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter – @VinceSchilling

Comments (25)
No. 1-22

Yes I get it that this is an over the top show.... but showing respect to what you call fashion. We call it....our heritage. First a woman never wears a head dress. The gem stones on the dress has absolutely nothing to do Native American regalias. Native American women do not show skin, Cherokee women do not wear buckskin dresses, we wear ribbon skirts and carry a shawl. The only straw we use is to make baskets, not to hold up a corset. Native American fashion goes beyond buckskin and headdresses. We are Indigenous people that has a past that is dark but yet, we have a vibrant and living culture. We are not relic of the past,a trend for fashion, we are not your customes to dance around in. We are not your mascots, or a romantic fictional character. We are not your Pocahontas. Please leave our culture out of your incorporating marketplace.

Jenuine WindyBoy
Jenuine WindyBoy

That is disrespectful and I feel that we have a right to put in a motion about all of these white people pretending to be a part of our culture. Whether they like it or not they have no right to make us look like fools all for their "fashion." We are indigenous people and we love our ways. Woman don't wear headdresses. Atleast TRY to get our cultures right before you go out thinking its cool to create something you THINK has anything to do with us. OR at the least get an elder to help you with your dresses so you can get it right.


Oh give me a break!! He is not Native American or Cherokee, if he was he would never wear that monstrousity, Hell, he looks like a friggen Vegas Showgirl!! And he would not marry a Chick wearing a Head Dress!! What liars. Hes probably just another Wannabe!


She is totally an inspiration for fashion lovers. She inspired with her different looks. I have made a website providing the replicas of quantum realm jacket from avengers endgame at https://www.customizejackets.com/avengers-endgame-white-quantum-realm-jacket and also starting launching other products too.


No self respecting Native American would wear this monstrosity on his or her head. He is obviously one of those "apples" or not even of the First Nations. This is cultural appropriation at it's best. Hateful


Excellent Blog! I would like to thank for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well.
I wanted to thank you for this websites! Thanks for sharing. Great websites!


From the picture itself, it is evident that the one who designed this costume and makeup is so http://hostsailorservers.com creative and excellent. It shows culture and theme-based that can attract many rural people. Hopefully waiting for many more updates in this fashion.

David Franklin
David Franklin

And she's not a gypsy either. Because no Romani would call themselves a gypsy. There's not many of them will even admit they're Romani, they've been so badly persecuted. Gadje like to appropriate Romani culture, with the whole "oh so romantic boho gypsy" guff.

Steve Hogg
Steve Hogg

Those are some head-turning and jaw-dropping head wear. The groom's reminds me of a peacock with dazzling colors and it is simply magnificent. We wish the happy couple all the best - https://www.abcarpetcleaningtoowoomba.com/