Upon entering Gallery 1 at Carriageworks guests encountered a soothing scene featuring waterlilies and a waterhole. Lilies also adorned the front row and were scattered around the room. The scene was set for the Indigenous Fashion Projects Runway. Presented in conjunction with IMG and David Jones and curated by Perina Drummond this catwalk show showcased collections from six First Nations labels.
It was fitting that on June 3, Mabo Day, the designers came together to celebrate community, craft and culture on Gadigal Land. A moving Welcome to Country was performed by Aunty Ann Weldon. Indigenous designers involved were Indii Swimwear by Nancy Pattison, Native Swimwear Australia by Natalie Cunningham, Liandra Swim by Liandra Gaykamangu, Kirrikin by Amanda Healey, Ngali by Denni Francisco and Maara Collective by Julie Shaw. All of these designers have been mentored by established designers through the IFP Pathways Program.
Indii Swimwear showed some beautiful dusty pink rose fabric swimwear in modern shapes and some wearable one pieces featuring coastal landscapes. Native Swimwear revealed their colourful range. This sustainable and fair trade label was the first Aboriginal designer to showcase at NYFW. Liandra Swim fused sun, surf and culture featuring signature prints inspired by her culture and indigenous women. Each unique piece told a story, combining storytelling with fashion and an ethical and eco- conscious footprint.
Kirrikin fuses artwork with resortwear to encapsulate the essence of Summer.Their colourful designs and flowing pants and cover ups were beautiful. Ngali celebrates community and cross culture ties between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities. I fell in love with their elegant silhouettes, especially an elegant dress with a handerkerchief hem sporting a blue, rust, cream, black and beige pattern.The Maara Collective name acknowledges the ‘ many hands’ involved in their creative and collaborative processes.Their flowing and silky designs were in beautiful creams, blues and mustard.
I was excited to see Samantha Hunt ( Harris) walk in the show wearing Indii Swimwear and in the audience I spied journalist Narelda Jacobs and Brisbane’s own ‘Queen of Thrift’ Faye de Lanty. Former AFL player Adam Goodes and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also scored tickets to this sought after show.
The Indigenous Fashion Projects, a Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation Program, collaborates with Indigenous Australians working in textiles and fashion.This is the very first time these designers have come together at Australian Fashion Week. The Indigenous Fashion Projects focus is cultural expression, sustainable practice, community engagement, collaboration, developing stronger business and good governance and indigenous agency. It was a privilege for She Society to be in the audience to witness the very first Australian Fashion Week parade of its kind. I look forward to seeing more from these emerging brands in the future.
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.
Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).