The inaugural Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week came to a close on Sunday (July 30) at the Queen Elizabeth atrium, where renowned First Nations designers Denise Brillon, Debra Sparrow, Yolonda Skelton, Korina Emmerich, Dahlia Drive and Reg Davidson, Jeneen Frei Njootli, and Sho Sho Esquiro all took to the runway.
Taking place as part of the City of Vancouver's Canada 150+ the Drum Is Calling Festival, the event served as a powerful means for Canada’s First Nations people to reclaim their identity and traditions by highlighting one of the groups’ most highly regarded art forms: regalia. By centring Aboriginal women and youth—the catwalk played host to primarily Indigenous models from the Pacific Association of First Nations Women’s day-camp programs—the four-day fete also helped to lift up a population that may often feel disconnected from its culture.
Overall, the historic shows have been a call to action: a plea for Canadians to begin listening to, seeing, and respecting the Indigenous people that have called this land home for thousands of years. In addition, VIFW presented an opportunity for audiences to support Aboriginal artists and designers.
“Buy indigenous,” Lorelei Williams, First Nations activist and founder of activist dance troupe Butterflies in Spirit, said during Friday’s (July 28) Red Dress show. “Start a relationship of respect and reciprocity and honour with Indigenous design and art. Show your solidarity and allyship. Walk with pride.”
Missed out on the action? Check out some of our favourite looks from the VIFW closing ceremonies—and a few from Thursday’s (July 27) Street Style showcase—below. You can also peep our coverage of VIFW’s opening night here and of the Red Dress event, which honoured missing and murdered Indigenous women, here.