Wiradjuri designer Denni Francisco wins top prize for second year at National Indigenous Fashion Awards 2022

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A Wiradjuri fashion designer whose philosophy of “Yindyamarra” – fashion that shows “respect, is polite, considerate, kind to the country” – won designer of the year at the National Indigenous Fashion Awards.

For the second year in a row, Denni Francisco de Ngali won the fashion designer award for his elegant, tailor-focused women’s fashion, which features digital prints and hand-embellished details adapted from the works of First Nations artists across the country.

Francisco’s latest collection, presented in May at Australian Fashion Week, featured works by Northwest Kimberly artist Gija Lindsay Malay.

Related: Country to Couture 2022: Indigenous fashion hits the catwalk – in photos

A Wiradjuri woman, Francisco describes her design philosophy as “Yindyamarra” or “fashion that shows respect, is polite, considerate, kind to the country and shows honor to cross country collaborations with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives.” .

Francisco has become a key figure in the Australian fashion industry, advising on projects such as the establishment of an Australian fashion brand.

From a handmade mókko (bark skirt) to streetwear, the breadth of Indigenous design excellence was celebrated at the National Indigenous Fashion Awards (Nifa) on a warm dry-season night in Darwin on Wednesday.

Held in Darwin’s Larrakia Country as part of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, the awards recognized outstanding contributions in six areas: from traditional adornment, textile design, fashion design and wearable art to community collaboration and business achievement.

Esther Yarllarlla won the award for traditional adornment for a mókko (bark skirt) commissioned by Centro Feminino Bábbarra. Yarllarlla is a Kunibidji artist based in Maningrida, Arnhem Land, and her traditional fabric and knot work is made from fig trees that grow next to her house, which she harvests and processes by hand to create bags of string, mats, baskets and sculptures. .

Models parade in designs from Clothing the Gaps during the First Nations Fashion and Design Show at Australian Fashion Week in May in Sydney. Photography: Stefan Gosatti/Getty Images

Laura Thompson of social enterprise streetwear brand Clothing the Gaps was honored for her business achievements. Clothing the Gaps’ ethically crafted clothing and accessories celebrate indigenous identity and sovereignty, and the brand’s stance on cultural appropriation has influenced beyond the fashion industry.

Artist and weaver Philomena Yeatman won the textile design award. Yeatman uses a combination of modern materials and pandanus, cabbage palm and natural dyes to create her textile works, which draw inspiration from her family history Gunggandji and Kuku Yalanji. Based in Yarrabah in the far north of Queensland, Yeatman’s art is widely collected, including by institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia and the Queensland Art Gallery.

Textile and fashion designer Lillardia Briggs-Houston of Ngarru Miimi was nominated for her work in textile design and wearable arts, winning the wearable arts category with a printed and hand-painted jumpsuit. The costume, which also included reed embellishments, a patterned veil and bottle brush seed earrings, was created in the country of Wiradjuri in Narungdera/Narrandera. Briggs-Houston’s ready-to-wear fashion also appeared on the cover of Vogue Australia.

Mimili Maku Arts, Linda Puna and Unreal Fur were awarded for their community collaboration. Puna’s capsule collection for Unreal Fur, 18 months in production, was supported by the Copyright Agency in an effort to maintain best practices throughout the design process. The result was a collection of pastel-printed puffer coats, a reversible faux fur jacket and a black overcoat embroidered with the artwork of Puna Ngayuku Ngura (My House). Filming of the collection campaign took place in Country in Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands and included behind-the-scenes opportunities for young women in the community.

Related: Australia Fashion Week 2022: 10 top shows – in pictures

The Nifas are part of a series of events this week that celebrate Aboriginal art, design and culture as part of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, which opens on Thursday.

On Friday, the winners of the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards – the richest art award in the country, with $190,000 in prizes across seven categories – will be announced at sunset on the lawns of the Museum and Art Gallery. of the Northern Territory.

On Saturday, the National Indigenous Music Awards will induct Gurrumul into the hall of fame. A tribute to the great Archie Roach is in the pipeline.

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