Struttin’ Their Stuff

By: Rachel Hausmann-Schall, artist residency & adult program manager on February 8th, 2023

Making up almost 12% of our city’s population, the Hmong community in Wausau was celebrated this past weekend at the Woodson Art Museum during “Regalia Runway” and a Thursday evening presentation with Bee Vang-Moua, Director of the Hmong Language Program at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Museum staff partnered with the Central Wisconsin Hmong Professionals (CWHP) to coordinate these two events that highlighted the headwear and garments from various groups and regions. The collaboration was inspired by the diverse representation of cultures presented in The Global Language of Headwear, on view in the Museum’s galleries through February 26.

Colorful, beaded Hmong hats with pompoms, tassels, and coins sit atop a counter in the Museum's classroom space.

A selection of Hmong hats that accompanied Bee Vang-Moua’s presentation on Thursday, February 2.

Bee Vang-Moua’s presentation on Thursday, February 2 was accompanied by a collection of Hmong hats and clothing from her personal collection. Some modern and others vintage and nearly all hand-stitched, Vang-Moua adorned the Museum’s classroom with various styles of garments and hats. After presenting to a full audience, Vang-Moua encouraged attendees to look, touch, and try on the objects she brought, saying that the clothing is meant to be worn, used, and loved.

Three Hmong outfits are displayed on mannequins and are adorned with ornate colors, beadwork, and hand-stitched patterns.

Bee Vang-Moua’s Hmong clothing on display in the Museum’s classroom.

With CWHP Board President Lada Xiong-Vang, Vice President Boly Vang, 29 volunteer models, the support of many Central Wisconsin Hmong Professional representatives, energetic and comedic emcee Maa Vue, two showtimes, and a gallery full of eager audience members, Saturday’s “Regalia Runway” was a huge success. Each show was broken down into seven sections, highlighting groups like the White Hmong, Striped Hmong, Hmong Sayaboury, Hmong Leng (Green), Hmong Vietnamese, and the Hmong Chinese. Maa Vue describes, “Each group is often named after the dominant colors or patterns of their traditional clothing, style of headdress, dialect, or province they reside in.”

29 volunteer models wearing traditional Hmong clothing with ornate beadwork, colors, and patterns

Volunteer models during Saturday’s “Regalia Runway” fashion show. Image courtesy of Boly Vang and CWHP.

Three young models pose wearing traditional and cultural Hmong clothing.

Models posing and wearing Hmong outfits during “Regalia Runway.” Images courtesy of Boly Vang and CWHP.

Three models on the runway posing in Hmong outfits

Models posing and wearing Hmong outfits during “Regalia Runway.” Images courtesy of Boly Vang and CWHP.

The final group of models wore traditional Hmong outfits with a modern spin. Included as the finale in the lineup were two young sisters, who, even at their age, were not afraid to “strut their stuff.”  Following the runway shows, audience and community members were encouraged to ask questions to learn more about garments, their purpose, and Hmong tradition.

Two young girls model Hmong clothing during Regalia Runway

The youngest models in “Regalia Runway” proudly wearing Hmong outfits. Images courtesy of Boly Vang and CWHP.

Events and collaborations like these that bring excitement to this community, offer educational opportunities, and encourage rich, deep connections to culture. Central Wisconsin Hmong Professionals is a non-profit organization led entirely by volunteers dedicated to nurturing the development of individuals through identity, networking, leadership, empowerment and community engagement. I look forward to strengthening relationships like these through future Museum collaborations with the Wausau community.

P.S. Don’t miss a chance to explore Art Park with your family and learn more about Hmong culture through bilingual children’s books and the featured video, “A Piece of Hmong,” featuring the creation of a Hmong New Year’s hat produced by the Chippewa Valley Museum.

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