The room was buzzing before the The Dà Ze Tsàn (From Our Hearts) began.
Both the designers and the attendees were feeling the excitement.
The Thursday night event brought Whitehorse’s Adaka Cultural Festival to a close for another year, with a colourful show highlighting Indigenous artists and designers.
Joleen Mitton, a Cree designer who founded Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week, raved about the event.
“I’m just really excited to be meeting new designers,” said Mitton. “Doing Vancouver Indigenous Fashion week, having to find new talent is something that I’m looking for — and Adaka definitely has it.”
The show was Josh Carr’s first time being a model. He modelled four different outfits.
“I can definitely say that my favourite was my mom’s,” he said. “It’s a vest she made for me when I graduated high school.”
There were 40 models and over 400 guests at the show.
The models wore both contemporary and traditional pieces.
ShoSho Esquiro’s work blends the old and the new. She is an artist and fashion designer from Yukon’s Ross River Kaska Dene Nation.
She displayed her collection “No Apology Necessary,” which she said is a response to Pope Francis’ refusal to apologize for residential schools.
The collection featured a jacket with a photo of the Pope on the back, stitched on upside down.
“‘No Apology Necessary’ is a direct message to Pope Francis,” she said. “I don’t feel us, as First Nations people, need to be waiting around for that. I don’t feel that our healing is dependant on it.”
Esquiro said she had worried what her father, a residential school survivor, would think about the message. But she said he has been very supportive.
Esquiro said her work became more political as she gained confidence in her art.
“A lot of people think fashion is kind of ‘come or go,’ or don’t take it seriously. I’ve worked very hard for my fashion to be looked at as art,” she said.
Esquiro will be putting on another fashion show at the Atlin Arts and Music Festival this weekend.