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Meet the winners of this year’s National Indigenous Fashion Awards

IMAGE VIA @lillardia/INSTAGRAM

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

Awarding excellence in the Australian fashion industry.

Since launching in 2020, the National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA) has provided a platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives to showcase their work on the vibrant Darwin stage.

Celebrating the innovation, diversity and ethical practices of the sector, NIFA is presented by Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation’s Indigenous Fashion Projects and supported by the Northern Territory Government. Taking place under the stars last night, the 2022 NIFA ceremony was hosted by Rachael Hocking and held on Larrakia Country at Darwin’s Deckchair Cinema.


For more fashion news, shoots, articles and features, head to our Fashion section.


The night’s special guest, Chansey Paech (the NT Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage) helped to present the six winners, while a panel of esteemed judges (Perina Drummond at Jira Models, Yatu Widders-Hunt at Cox Inall Ridgeway, Prue-ellen Thomas at the Australian Fashion Council, and Jacklyn Rivera at Country Road) awarded excellence in the industry.

Like the last two years, 2022‘s list of nominees spanned a dynamic range of specialties and skills, honing in on the artists and designers who use fashion as a means of cultural storytelling. Below, meet the designers, creatives and makers awarded in last night’s ceremony.

Esther Yarllarlla, Bábbarra Women’s Centre

 

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Won: Traditional Adornment Award, supported by Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation

Kunibidji artist Esther Yarllarlla, a highly-skilled weaver and sewer at Bábbarra Designs and Maningrida Arts and Culture, took home the Traditional Adornment Award. Her entry of a Mókko (bark skirt) and knotted bag were both made from nja-djéngka fibre harvested from the bayan trees growing along the shores of Maningrida. As her work continues to be in high demand, this award celebrates the rich history of traditional dress.

@babbarradesigns

Mimili Maku Arts, Linda Puna x Unreal Fur

 

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Won: Community Collaboration Award, supported by Canberra Centre

Facilitated by Mimili Maku Arts, the Linda Puna x Unreal Fur 18-month project was a celebration of culture, community and collaboration. Modelled on one of Linda’s incredible paintings, the outerwear capsule collection sold out in record time. The final campaign shoot was the result of emerging videographers, photographers, stylists and models in the Mimili community.

@mimili_maku_arts

Philomena Yeatman, Yarrabah Arts and Cultural Precinct

Won: Textile Design Award, supported by RMIT

Master weaver, potter and artist Philomena Yeatman has been showcasing her talents at the Yarrabah Arts Centre for almost a decade. Using traditional stories and knowledge to translate her prints into textiles, Philomena weaves an intricate story with every piece she creates. Her award-winning piece is a breathtaking depiction of the start of stingray season.

@yarrabahartsandculture

Lillardia Briggs-Houston, Ngarru Miimi

Won: Wearable Art Award, supported by the Northern Territory Government

Wiradjuri Gangulu Yorta Yorta woman Lillardia Briggs-Houston is a textile designer, printmaker and the founder of the slow fashion label, Ngarru Miimi. Exploring culture, self-determination and sovereignty through her work, Lillardia’s winning garment was hand-printed, painted and sewn on Narrungdera, Wiradjuri Country, where she grew up. The merino wool jumpsuit was paired with bottlebrush seed earrings and embellished with two-metre reeds.

@lillardiabriggshouston

Denni Francisco, Ngali

 

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Won: Fashion Designer Award, supported by Country Road

Wiradjuri woman Denni Francisco is the designer behind the world-class fashion label Ngali and a two-time recipient of the NIFA Fashion Designer Award. Each Ngali collection is centred around Yindayamarra, meaning fashion that shows respect, is polite, considered, gentle to Country and shows honour to the cross-Country collaborations.

@ngali_australia

Laura Thompson, Clothing The Gaps

 

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Won: Business Achievement Award, supported by Kin Fashion

Gunditjmara woman Laura Thompson is the co-founder of the game-changing Naarm-based fashion label and social enterprise, Clothing the Gaps. Since the brand’s inception in 2018, Clothing the Gaps has created an incredibly powerful platform that champions the voices of First Nations people. In the 2020 to 2021 financial year, the brand created over 9,000 hours of employment for First Nations people, making Laura an extremely deserving recipient of the 2022 Business Achievement Award.

@clothingthegaps

For more on the National Indigenous Fashion Awards, head here.

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