Couture and culture combine for sold-out Indigenous fashion show in Darwin

Couture and culture combine for sold-out Indigenous fashion show in Darwin

First Nations designers and artists from across the country have come together in Darwin to showcase some of the nation’s leading Indigenous fashion.

The Country to Couture fashion show has been held on Larrakia Country, in Darwin, as part of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair.

Artistic director, Shilo McNamee, said 18 designers and artists took part in two sold-out shows.

“We’ve had so much interest from all these amazing designers, artists and creatives, so we’ve got two really big shows,” she said.

A model showcasing a design from Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance. (Supplied: Dylan Buckee)
a female model wearing a headpiece
A design from Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts in collaboration with Aly De Groot Art. (Supplied: Michael Jalaru Torres)

‘Culture is a very important thing’

Wendy Hubert, an artist from the Juluwarlu Art Group in Western Australia, designed and modeled clothes for the show.

An older Indigenous woman standing next to a young Indigenous man with a big screen and blue spotlights in the background
Wendy Hubert and Wimiya Woodley. (ABC NewsMitchell Abram)

She said it was a pleasing experience to showcase Indigenous culture.

“Culture is a very important thing that we share with others … And you have to feel good to share your culture,” Ms Hubert said.

“To share and acknowledge ourselves, to be proud of ourselves, to have pride in yourself and be accountable.”

Wendy’s grandson Wimiya Woodley also took part in the show, and was his first time taking to the runway as a model.

A man with curly hair and wearing a fur coat stands on a fashion runway.
A design by Linda Puna from Mimili Maku Arts, in collaboration with Unreal Fur.(Supplied: Dylan Buckee)
A man with curly hair looks into the camera.  He is wearing a fur jacket.
A design by Linda Puna from Mimili Maku Arts, in collaboration with Unreal Fur.(Supplied: Dylan Buckee)

“I’m feeling pumped to show my family’s culture, being around all these other First Nations people, it’s very empowering he said.

“We’ve come a long way as blackfellas… and to be in this venue in the capital of the NT… it’s very magical.”

A woman wears a colorful scarf and looks into the camera against a black background.
A design by Ngali by Denni Francisco, with textile adapted from Lindsay Malay.(Supplied: Dylan Buckee)

‘Carrying our stories’

Creative Director Shilo McNamee said she had been blown away by the response to this year’s Country to Couture events.

“Audiences are really excited to come and support the show, support designers and artists,” she said.

“There are quite a few local people involved in the show, we’ve got local talent on stage as our closing performances… so it’s great that Darwin people could come get behind it.”

A woman wears a colorful turban and a white t-shirt with a black background.
A model wearing a design by Western Australia’s Juluwarlu Art Group.(Supplied: Dylan Buckee)
A man wearing a colorful jumpsuit stands on a runway.
A Gantharri by Bobbi Lockye design on the catwalk.(Supplied: Dylan Buckee)

Bobbi Lockyer, a designer who also took part in the show, said she was encouraged by the response to the event.

“It’s so important because it’s a way of carrying our stories through and showcasing our incredible resilience and talent,” she said.

“It’s really incredible to be able to include my culture and include my art, and the storytelling through the pieces in my designs.”

The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair continues with the National Indigenous Fashion Awards and a public program of events beginning on Friday.

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A brightly colored entry from Nagula Jarndu Art Centre.(Supplied: Dylan Buckee)

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