First Nations fashion takes centre stage: The best of the Country to Couture show 2021
6 AUG 2021
The show in Darwin was a vibrant showcase of Indigenous talent.
It’s a rare catwalk that brings together sequins and woven pandanas leaves, but Country to Couture is like no other event on the fashion calendar. The celebration of Indigenous fashion is now in its sixth year and has become a highlight of the wider Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair. While the art component is once again running online due to the Covid-19 pandemic, given the large amount of tourists that usually come from all over Australia, both Country to Couture and the National Indigenous Fashion Awards were able to take place, to the delight of locals and those able to travel to the Northern Territory. The Welcome to Larrakia Country by the Garramilla Dancers was followed by a sparkling Top End trio of drag queens Foxxy Empire, Shaniqua Empire and Sherri Lee Volua.
It set the tone for a night of stark contrasts and mutual celebration. Where work by the opening group from Anindilyakwa Arts with Dr Aly de Groot and Anna Reynolds (who won the NIFA for Community Collaboration) had a traditional, earthy feel with its woven bags and earrings, natural-pigment-dyed fabrics, it found its polar opposite in the work of closing act Dunjiba Fashions from the Dunjiba Community Artists. Their bright, printed sportswear in lilac and acid orange included hoodies and track pants, accessorised with American sports-inspired pieces like woven grid-iron shoulder pads and padded baseball-catcher vests. In between ran the gamut of styles, from Deadly Denim’s pared-back streetwear to colourful dresses including a full-skirted cocktail style in pink painted with cranes, from Moydra Designs. More glamour came from the collaboration between Papulankjutja Artists and Black Cat Couture, with its pretty sundresses and column gown with huge bell sleeves.Tiwi Design with Ossom offered up cute, printed rompers and jumpsuits, tees and trousers, and included a handful of the island’s sistagirls as models. Denni Francisco’s Ngali label, which was named winner of the Fashion Design Award at NIFA the night before, showed its signature silk styles in simple but elegant dresses, shirting and separates, which highlight the artwork of Gija artist Lindsay Malay from Warmun Art Centre. Printed jumpsuits and bucket hats—the new summer staple—were highlights of the collection from Marrawuddi Art Centre and Injalak Art Centre in their collaboration with North Home Textiles. The end of the night arrived with fairy lights spinning around the room, and Foxxy Empire leading the finale of models and designers to the stage to a standing ovation from the crowd, who soon walked out into the balmy Darwin night with a spring in their step and a Lizzo song on their lips.
Yinukwamba collection 2021 on the runway for Country to Couture. Image credit: Getty Images for DAAF
WINNER@FROCK ON 2022
Spotlight on hand printed fabrics & Indigenous designed fabrics
The Frock On! project brought together 22 talented makers/fabric aficionados from around Australia and 70+ metres of fabulous hand-printed fabric designed and produced by Ikuntji Artists.
Congratulations to all designers who participated and to the award winners of Frock On 2022!
Gorgeousness (use of colour) - Olga Bryukovets Fabulousness (sheer over-the-top-ness) – Indriani Tungka
Surprise (well, we didn’t think of that) – Charlee Shone & Darwin Middle School Strategic
(minimal use of fabric, maximum impact) - Doreen Dyer Feature of fabric design (oh, that’s an amazing print!) – Lauren and Erin Ritchie
Innovation (that’s a great idea) - Alice van Meurs
Fun (if it makes us smile) - Anna Reynolds
Chic (ooh lala) – Dinah Mitchell
Je ne sais quoi - Charlee Shone and Erin Costelloe Songlines Award - Sue Cattmodel@naomi e j
National Indigenous Fashion Award 2021- Community Collaboration
YOU WIN - NITV Announce Anindilyakwa Arts with Dr Aly de Groot and Anna Reynolds (Groote Eylandt, NT), as the winners of the Community Collaboration Award, co-presented by Darwin Innovation Hub
WINNER @ National Indigenous Fashion Award 2021
Proudly presented by the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation as part of Indigenous Fashion Projects Announce Anindilyakwa Arts with Dr Aly de Groot and Anna Reynolds (Groote Eylandt, NT), as the winners of the Community Collaboration Award, co-presented by Darwin Innovation Hub
WINNER @ FROCK ON 2021
A spotlight on hand printed fabrics & Indigenous designed fabrics announce Anna Reynolds as Winner of the Je Ne Said Quoi ( you work it out) category Championing recycled fabric, hand stitching and sample/strike-offs from the print studio at Ikuntji Arts Centre located at Hasst Bluff NT (west of Alice Springs) Model YAZ