Bebe Buckskin Defines Her Own Style With Leathers, Feathers & Fur

With Janice Joplin as her style icon, the Metis/Cree blues-rocker embraces her roots, allowing her natural Nêhiyaw beauty to shine through. 

Growing up in the heart of Alberta’s great northern muskeg, Nêhiyaw blues-rocker Bebe Buckskin (aka Danielle Ghostkeeper) wasn’t too concerned with keeping up with the latest fashion trends. A self-described plain-Jane as a teenager, she moved to the “big city” of Calgary 10 years ago and launched her musical career in earnest. It was then that Bebe began to assemble signature ensembles of distinctive clothing accessories that were befitting of a dynamic entertainer and show-stopping diva.

“I would say it developed over time,” explains Bebe. “The more I became immersed in my music and the more I honed in and developed my style. As I came of age in my late teens I started experimenting with different aesthetics. I tried the hip-hop thing. I went through a punk phase. But then sort of settled into a hippie aesthetic in my early twenties that has been the base of my style since. I love that Summer of Love sensibility.”

Creative and intentional in her approach to both music and fashion, Bebe has always gravitated towards a more relaxed and organic lifestyle. With a soulful new EP, Asiskiy (Cree for “dirt”), arriving this month, the singer/songwriter is feeling more comfortable than ever with her on-stage image and emerging reputation as a fashionista.

“I’m into the 50s, 60s, 70s blues-rock stuff and my style definitely reflects my primary musical tastes,” she admits. “I have sort of reigned it in and now the way I dress myself is on purpose. I purposely look like I’m a mess, but it’s chic. I do the shabby chic thing a lot, but I’m aware and conscious of what I put on my body and every day I try to make a statement. Whether it’s a piece of jewelry or a pink feather boa like Janis Joplin—she’s a huge style icon of mine. Plus, I love fur and luxurious fabrics and textures.”

That combined love of the history and tactile symbolism is naturally connected to Bebe’s background and integrated into the warp and weft of her identity as an artist and as a Cree/Metis woman.

“The fur thing is huge for me,” says Bebe. “I love to wear animals. As weird as that sounds. I love to wear leather, feathers, fur. You’re honouring that life. You’re honouring that spirit. It’s a huge part of our culture and that definitely plays a role in why I like to wear it so much. To honour tradition and pay homage to where I come from and where I grew up, my heritage and my culture.”

Aware that boldly championing such a hot-button issue is bound to garner a wide range of reactions, Bebe continues to make bold fashion choices that affirm her own experiences and reflect her ancestral origins.

“Lately I’ve been wearing pelts. My coyote pelts and my fox pelts. Just draped over my shoulder as a statement. I did that in New Orleans when I played Folk Alliance Festival. I got a lot of mixed reviews on that. I got called out. I got called—oh my God—I got called a murderer and I thought they were going to throw red paint on me. So, it’s like you are always taking a risk with the fur thing,” she says.  “C’mon. Like, fuck you man. My grandpa’s a trapper. I’m Indigenous from Northern Alberta. Fuck you!”

Affirming that truth, beauty, and fashion lie in the eye of the beholder, trailblazing blues-folk chanteuse Bebe isn’t about to put her personal sense of style in a corner.

“I don’t really have a specific structure of what beauty should be in my mind. A person who embraces who they are and what they dig—that’s beautiful to me. Diversity is beautiful. Confidence is beautiful. Your demeanour and how you hold yourself. A confident person shines and that is beautiful.”

Bebe Buckskin’s new EP, Asiskiy, is available to stream now.