08/07/2016
In celebration of NAIDOC Week.

Words by

Fashion Journal

We’re coming to the end of NAIDOC Week – that's the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee Week.

And Westfield’s got a little something up its sleeve.

This weekend, the Doncaster centre will be celebrating the rich links between fashion and Indigenous heritage, exhibiting some of designer Lyn-AL Young’s work.

The emerging Melbourne designer has recently showcased at VAMFF, MBFWA and Australian Indigenous Fashion Week. So before we head to Westfield, we thought we’d find out a little more about Lyn-Al.

What does your design process look like?

I start by meeting with the client to hear a bit about their story, talk with them about style, shape and colour to suit their body shape, while showing them a range of silks. As they share their ideas I draw up a sketch design and later send through a final.
Once the silk, design and colour scheme is confirmed, I then paint the silk using symbolism to create a story that relates to the client. After that, in collaboration with my dressmaker, we have two to three fittings, depending on the type of design

How has your Gunnai and Wiradjuri culture inspired you?

My culture inspires me every day. Everything my family and ancestors have overcome with such resilience inspires me and makes me feel so proud. The creativity of my people also inspires me. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and innovators, which has inspired me to follow in their footsteps. And I’ve been encouraged along the way by my family. My culture is intrinsic to my brand; it has formed my identity and I paint and create from a spiritual place so it just comes out naturally.

How do your fashion design and art-making practices overlap?

I am an artist first; my fashion design has developed from my artwork. I feel painting is a great way to share stories, and storytelling is a very sacred and important part of Aboriginal culture. I feel that painting onto silk is such a great way to share these stories that are so important to me.

What has been the highlight of your career so far? 

Being invited to the young indigenous entrepreneurs event with Prime Minister Turnbull at Parliament House earlier this year.

Where did your passion and knowledge for design come from?

I’ve been passionate about fashion since I was young. I always loved dressing up and mixing and matching. I’ve also loved going to the op shop, which I get from my nan; I love finding things that you can’t really get anywhere else. And I wanted to create work that you can’t find anywhere else, as each one of my works is a one-off piece.

Where is home to you?

I live in Warrandyte with my parents and siblings.

Why is NAIDOC Week so important?

It puts a focus on Aboriginal culture and enables opportunities – such as the one Westfield has provided to me, to show my collection. It also enables Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to engage in ways that don’t always happen.

What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t creating fashion and art?

If I weren’t involved in my fashion or art, which is really hard to imagine, I would be involved in our family business.

What can people expect from your collection at NAIDOC?

I hope they would see the richness and pride that comes from within me, as I show my culture through my collection. I have a couple pieces from my two collections: the first collection is a blend of Kangaroo leather and silk, and the second collection is painted markings onto silk.

Do you have any advice for young Indigenous girls attempting to succeed in the fashion industry?

Be exactly who you are and share your culture, because there’s nothing like us in the industry. You will stand out and what you have to say is important, and needs to be shared.

The media tends to share negative stories of Aboriginal people, full of stereotypes. The media also puts a lot of pressure on young girls to be and look a certain way. But you need to reject what people say and just draw from our ancestors, because that will give you strength. Listen to the stories of elders; how our people have overcome so many obstacles through resilience. That resilient spirit is within you, if you choose to listen and connect with it.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Having international fashion shows and art exhibitions overseas. I see my designs being worn by celebrities at red carpet events, on TV shows and movies. Also having my own boutique, or having stock in outlet stores.

You can catch Lyn-Al at her Meet the Designer appearance at Westfield Doncaster this Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 from 12pm - 1pm.

lyn-al.com.au

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