ERIKA LOVE and Maddie Coyne, Art Van Designers, at a past Mid-Coast Altered Couture Contest event.

ERIKA LOVE and Maddie Coyne, Art Van Designers, at a past Mid-Coast Altered Couture Contest event.


Each year in Brunswick, locals of all ages are invited to participate in the Mid-Coast Altered Couture Contest to benefit an arts-focused nonprofit organization in Maine.

This year’s contest and fashion show will take place from 6-8 p.m. Saturday, April 4, at the Coleman Burke Gallery in Fort Andross. Proceeds will benefit Portland Youth Dance.

“All ages, all skill levels are encouraged to participate. It is an opportunity for all ages, all shapes, all sizes, all genders to have an opportunity to walk the runway and share their expressive talents,” said Christine DeTroy, designer and producer of the Mid-Coast Altered Couture Contest.”Our youngest contestant so far was 6, and our eldest in her 80s.”

LILA BOSSI wearing a dres s designed from a lobster trap cage and a rain slicker.

LILA BOSSI wearing a dres s designed from a lobster trap cage and a rain slicker.

The rules are simple: Contestants must create a unique and inventive outfit for themselves based on a theme and model their creation down a runway for charity.

Inspiration and materials for the looks can come from anywhere, but the primary focus of this event is celebrating fashion, artistic expression and community.

“Designers are encouraged to utilize their local community for inspiration and resources along with a strong focus on recycling for materials,” said DeTroy. “Secondhand stores and thrift shops are encouraged.”

This year’s theme is “enchantment and fantasy,” and the event will feature DJ Dave from Eight Street Entertainment. Contestants can walk the runway to music of their choosing.

“The music is a big part of this venue as it adds a layer of excitement and intrigue,” DeTroy explained. “Each designer chooses a piece of music that reflects their connection to their rendering. From Sinatra to Tibetan monk chanting, there will be some music for every taste and age.”

Saturday’s event marks the 5th year of the contest, and it’s still gaining popularity.

“Over the years the event has outgrown its original space held in the theater of the Frontier Cafe and now is held in the Coleman Burke Gallery located in Fort Andross right next to the Frontier Cafe,” DeTroy said.

Previous Mid-Coast Altered Couture Contests have benefitted Art Van, a mobile art therapy organization serving Bath, Brunswick, Lewiston and Auburn. This year, DeTroy decided to extend the contest’s reach to Portland Youth Dance — a non-profit organization serving the greater Portland community by providing pre-professional dance company scholarships and outreach programs for teens.

“The Portland Dance Youth will give two dance performances the night of our event,” said DeTroy. “They will also have a table with information on their mission and vision and a chance to answer any questions of interest.”

The runway show will feature 25 designers, from which three winners will be chosen. A panel of five judges will select the winners, and each winner will receive gift certificates donated from local businesses.

Win or lose, the night is all about supporting and celebrating art and youth art programs.

“I believe in the power of creative expression and the freedom to explore it,” said DeTroy. “As more and more Art programs suffer budget cuts, it is imperative to do what we can to keep the Arts available for our young people… I will always donate the proceeds of the Midcoast Altered Couture Contest to youth and art programs that focus on providing opportunities for youth and art involvement regardless of ability to pay.”

Tickets for the Mid-Coast Altered Couture Contest are $12 each and available at the Frontier Cafe in Fort Andross in Brunswick or online at Contact [email protected] for more information.

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