Example of indigenous textile design in Australia

SYDNEY – The coronavirus might have scuppered the first indigenous showcase at May’s cancelled Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, but another first for these designers will go ahead in August.

The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation unveiled the shortlist for the inaugural National Indigenous Fashion Awards. It spans 33 designers and artists across six categories, including fashion and textile design, cultural adornment and wearable art and environmental and social contribution.

The awards are to be broadcast live on August 5 on the social media channels of NITV, the SBS Network’s National Indigenous Television channel, on the eve of the 14th edition of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair – Australia’s largest indigenous art showcase, which will operate in a digital format this year, from August 6-14.

Nominated for the Fashion Design Award are Liandra Swim designer Liandra Gaykamangu, MAARA Collective’s Julie Shaw, Ngali designer Denni Francisco and Murrii Quu Couture’s Cheryl Creed; while the Textile Design Award nominees include Lillardia Allirra Briggs-Houston from Ngarru Miimi and Ivy Nargoodah, Eva Nargoodah and Margaret Albert of Rukaji Designs, from the Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency.

A Special Recognition category spotlights exceptional contribution to the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander textiles and fashion. Nominees include artist and entrepreneur Grace Lillian Lee, the founder of the year-old First Nations Fashion & Design incubator, who is also preparing to launch the First Nations Fashion Council.

Two looks from the Spring 2019 Mangkaja Arts x Gorman collab featuring artwork by Sonia Kurarra. The collection has been nominated for NIFA’s Community Collaboration Award.  Charles Freger

The judging panel is comprised of indigenous communications consultant Yatu Widders Hunt, Northern Territory Treaty Commission deputy treaty commissioner Ursula Raymond, Australian Fashion Council chief executive officer Leila Naja Hibri, and Maria Rinaldi-Cant, head of design for women’s wear, women’s accessories and children’s wear at Australian brand Country Road.

The awards are supported by the Northern Territory Government.