Story by Kirsti Salmi, Photo by Ascension

Fabulous Portia levels a sultry gaze over ravenous attendees at Black Pirates Pub and drops a bombshell: “If you aren’t already aware, you’re at Derelicte 7. Seven deadly sins, seven minutes in heaven… it’s going to get filthy, and that’s how we like it.” And with a roar from the crowd, so began this year’s Fashion Odyssey.

To say that Derelicte is a feast for the senses is to understate its electric impact. The DefSup/CILU Radio fundraising juggernaut is full-on sensory overload, where hundreds in attendance sate their cultural cravings with an evening of outstanding offering by artists, retailers, musicians, and eateries. While indulging in trays of catering from Sweet Escape and Sushi Bowl, audience members crowded shoulder-to-shoulder and craned necks. Flashbulbs burned at the end of the runway as models sassed, strutted and shook their collective tush on the catwalk.

Cheeky models and brazen beats brought to life enticing looks of local fashion houses and designers. Mars Clothing had moustachioed models in berets glide down the runway to Lennon’s “Imagine,” ending its walk with a “Je Suis Charlie”-imprinted pride flag—an appropriate statement for a night which honours freedom of self-expression. The Loop’s freak show-themed walk was a huge hit, complete with whip-wielding circus master and sword-swallowing.

Breathless anticipation awaited this year’s wearable art presentations, capping each set with a flourish. Local artists presented a stunning cast of characters and themes, including a woodland faerie trickster, an origami girl, a magic shaman, and a modern tin woman rejecting heart in favour of wealth and status. Boy Roland explored the grotesque with a massive monster mask entitled “Your Honour, I Abject.” Caitlyn McMillan’s expansive “Stitch These Wings” mused on dubious freedom and creative restraint in graduating from school to work. Freedom of expression themes continued with an outfit-protest over corporate control of food supply and a quirky silk-screened Sov bathroom graffiti jumpsuit.

In between the fashion shows, dancers and live music helped keep the crowd energized. Flamenco and Bollywood stylings drew massive cheers as dancers from World Dance Centre packed an impressive punch with minimal runway space. Jake Vaillant + The Dirty Old Town provided gritty, soulful atmospherics in the lead up to the show. Folk faves The Auditor General cranked out the melodic grooves they’re known and loved for. The vocal theatrics and bluesy stylings of Morning Light garnered appreciative whistles and a smattering of dance parties throughout the crowd.

Derelicte is a well-oiled artistic machine, coming together as the result of massive organizational effort. Katie Beda, who is in her fourth year of involvement, attests: “the most rewarding part is when the doors first open to the public. At that point it’s worth all the time and dedication to see the end result all unfold. It’s quite emotional to see the months of time and care all involved in a whirlwind of adventure that is Derelicte.” Cheers to DefSup, CILU Radio, and all contributing artists and entertainers—Derelicte is certainly among the finest in creative catharsis this city has to offer.

Check out the huge collection of photos here.