Collaboration collection between MAARA Collective fashion designer Julie Shaw and artists of the Bula'bula Aboriginal Arts Corporation, presented at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, August 7, 2019

 SYDNEY — Sydney designer Julie Shaw has won both the Fashion Design and Community Collaboration categories of Australia’s inaugural National Indigenous Fashion Awards.

Developed by the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation, the awards were revealed Wednesday via livestream on the Facebook of the National Indigenous Television channel, on the eve of the 14th edition of the fair. Australia’s biggest indigenous art event, DAAF is operating in a digital format this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shaw, a Yuwaalaraay woman based in Sydney, is the founder and creative director of Maara Collective, a one-year-old resortwear line that collaborates with indigenous artists.

The brand’s first collection, for resort 2020, was produced in collaboration with the Bula’bula Arts center in the remote Northern Territory community of Ramingining and debuted in the From Country to Couture runway showcase at last year’s DAAF.

Shaw was among 33 First Nations designers and artists nominated for the inaugural awards across six categories, competing for a prize pool valued at 60,000 Australian dollars, or $42,702 at current exchange, consisting of promotional, support and development opportunities, travel and cash.

She has won a 12-month mentorship at Australian fashion label Country Road, travel support and a membership with the Australian Fashion Council.

“We have been overwhelmed with the impressive talent of all the nominees in every category and are extremely proud that we have a unique opportunity to highlight this Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander excellence through a new platform for the world to see” said Nina Fitzgerald, NIFA creative director.

A look from the Maara Collective x Bula’bula Arts collaboration collection for resort 2020.  Cybele Malinowski

Shaw’s Maara Collective x Bula’bula Arts collaboration also received the Community Collaboration Award.

Peggy Griffiths, a senior artist at Western Australia’s Waringarri Aboriginal Arts, won the Cultural Adornment and Wearable Art Award.

Artist Kieran Karritpul, from the Northern Territory’s Nauiyu Nambiyu community, received the Textile Design Award.

Artist Kieran Karritpul, from the Northern Territory’s Nauiyu Nambiyu community. 

Alice Springs-based indigenous community development and research organization Ninti One Limited was awarded the Environmental and Social Contribution Award, while Bathurst Island artist Bede Tungutalum, who helped pioneer art sales from the Northern Territory’s remote Tiwi Islands, received the Special Recognition Award.

The judging panel was 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, Country Road’s head of design for women’s wear, women’s accessories and children’s wear.

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