From Country to Couture

By Michael McHugh

From Country to Couture
MiNDFOOD Editor-in-Chief attends the best fashion show he has seen in years.

As part of the Darwin Festival, the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Fashion Show ‘From County to Couture’ launched last night bringing together a wonderful mix of fine art and fashion. The success of the textile design movement in remote Indigenous communities has led to these collaborations with Australian fashion designers, which is exciting for us as a nation.

Creating this platform in showcasing Indigenous communities and their work from art centres through to the fashion performance saw an extraordinary mix of talent. Bright coloured prints were reproduced on silks and cottons and bought a truly unique connection from the country. Illustrating stories from reef and rain forests, fabric had been hand dyed and hand printed to create the most interesting fabrication and colours to come out of an Australian fashion show in many years. Long may it last.

Backed by the Northern Territory Government, Travel NT and Festivals NT, this initiative could go on and become a huge international event in the same vein as New Zealand’s World of Wearable Art (WOW). As Sydney’s fashion set and whose who rubbed shoulders overnight at the David Jones new season collection it was Darwin that showcased the real emerging talent in Australia fashion last night.

There were many stand outs collections; the print work and silhouettes from Hopevale Arts & Cultural Centre working with designer Shannon Brett, the black and white palette of the Yarrabah Art Centre working with the Batchelor Institute, the Wujal Wujal Silk Collection, the Babbarra Womans Centre designs telling ancestral stories and myths from the depths of Arnhem Land. And you can’t forget the Sista Gals Inc from Tiwi Designs, who added that touch of sparkle and glamour – Tiwi Island style.

All collections and collaborations showed a skill and passion that has long seem departed from most fashion shows and new season ranges in Australia.

Creative Director Grace Lillian Lee, and the team that pulled this initiative and show together take a bow. My one ask. Sponsors please keep investing, artists keep creating, designers keep collaborating. You are onto something wonderful and made everyone proud to watch this inaugural showcase. I want to return and see more.

Click through our gallery to view some beautiful photos of the event. To find out more about the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, see their website here


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