The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair fashion show ‘From Country to Couture’ celebrates the marriage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contemporary fine art and high end fashion. The success of the textile design movement in remote Indigenous communities has led to exciting collaborations with well known Australian designers.
‘From Country to Couture’ The 2017 DAFF Fashion Show
Grace Lillian Lee Creative Director
Grace Lillian Lee is a multi-cultural Australian artist known for drawing inspiration from her Indigenous heritage. Through collaboration with Australian Indigenous communities and their art centres she has created a platform for cultural expression and celebration by way of fashion performances. These are instrumental in engaging young people from remote communities and providing an opportunity for them to represent and be proud of their culture and country through fashion and performance. Among these communities is Mornington Island. As a result of an ongoing collaboration with Grace, the Art Centre has been able to start a small fashion business titled MiArt known for its hand-painted one of a kind bags. Along with Grace’s involvement with Indigenous communities she is also a practicing artist. She uses fashion and adornment to represent her own cultural heritage. She has become known for her wearable interpretations of traditional Torres Strait Island weaving techniques that take the form of body sculptures and accessories. By bringing such techniques into the contexts of both art and fashion Grace has engaged a wide audience allowing her to develop a successful business based on woven accessories, celebrating and exploring her lineage.
Art Centre: Yarrabah Art Centre
Designer: Shannon Brett
Constantly experimenting with fresh ideas and striving to push their artwork in exciting new directions, Yarrabah Art Centre presents a modern monochromatic look for the fashion conscious, in collaboration with designer Shannon Brett. True to their abstract shapes and stories of country, the Yarrabah artists create their well known patterns using textiles as a medium. Easy to wear for any occasion, these garments present a bold statement for the ever evolving Yarrabah Art Centre.
Art Centre: Warlukurlangu Artists
Designers/Trainers: Batchelor Institute
BIITE (Batchelor Institute) in Alice Springs has been working with six senior artists from Warlukurlangu Artists in Yuendumu NT, to produce a cohesive collection for the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation’s fashion show and London Fashion Week.
Art Centre: Palngun Wurnangat Art Centre
Designer: Kayleigh Gosselink
The Palngun Wurnangat Art Centre collection has been created in collaboration with Kayleigh Gosselink. It is a fusion of northern European simplicity and the vibrant colour and pattern of Wadeye fabric, using both screen printing and lino block prints. The collection is influenced by the Japanese designers of the 1980’s blended with Vivienne Westwood combinations of ethnic fabrics.
Art Centre: Injalak Arts and Crafts
Designer: Blackcat Couture
This collection is a collaboration with Injalak Arts and Crafts’ fabric designers and screen printers and “Rise” which is an Indigenous women’s sewing group from Gunbalanya Community. Marcia Russell from Blackcat Couture has provided her vintage designs and played a significant role in the production of the collection. Injalak artists Sylvia Badari, Selina Nadjowh, Katra Nganjmirra and Priscilla Badari have contributed their exciting designs to the project.
Art Centre: Hopevale Arts & Cultural Centre
Designer: Shannon Brett
Hopevale Arts and Cultural Centre debut fashion collection, is from far north Queensland and is a combination and accumulation of 2 years artistic fabric design with designer Shannon Brett. These exciting formations and rich fabrics express the stories of the lands of Hopevale. The designers ability to reveal these stories comes to life in her fresh contemporary creations. The collection is colourful and sophisticated, comfortable and mesmerising. The collection’s name is “MAARAARR” which is the Guugu Yimithirr language name for “clothing”. The collection design was inspired by the beautiful traditional lands of the Guugu Yimithirr people and the artists abilities to transfer their stories of their country onto the stunning fabrics.
Art Centre: Ikuntji Artists
Over the past year Ikuntji Artists developed in cooperation with The Forkleaf Project a fashion collection focusing on the flowers found in the desert. Inspired by the rich flora emerging after the summer rains this collection indulges in vibrant colours, bold patterns and designs evoking spring and summer.
Art Centre: Bàbbarra Designs
Designer: Publisher Textiles
Bàbbarra Women’s Centre designs tell ancestral stories and myths from the depths of Arnhem Land. These designs reflect the artist’s deep cultural knowledge and connection to land, yet tell ancient stories in a fresh, bold and contemporary way. For this range, Bàbbarra Women Centre has teamed up with their long time friends and collaborators at Publisher Textiles. Working closely on the range, the Publisher Textiles team have designed and sewn each garment by hand in their Sydney based warehouse. All garments are for sale- please come to the Bàbbarra Women’s Centre stand for details.
Art Centre & Designer: Bana Yirriji Art
The Wujal Wujal Silk Collection is a collaboration of seven artists including Doreen Creek, Carmel Haines, Lila Creek, Keryl Tayley, Anne Nunn, Jarrett Bassani and Cairns based Indigenous textile artist Lynelle Flinders. They have produced a collection that illustrates their stories from the reef and rain forests of Far North Queensland. The silks have been hand dyed and hand printed, revealing an explosion of colour and movement.
Art Centre: Tiwi Designs
Designers: Sista Gals Inc
Tiwi Designs are working closely with a local group of ‘Sista Gals’ who are doing certificates in Visual Arts at Batchelor Institute in Katherine. They have developed a range of clothing for release at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair. The Sista Gals Inc collection has been produced, presented and modeled by the participants involved in coordinating the collection. The ‘Gals’ work with the textile and fashion design department at Batchelor Institute and with the assistance of Tiwi Designs.
Art Centres: Bàbbarra, Injalak Arts & Crafts, Palngun Wurnangat Art Centre and Tiwi Designs
Albertini is a Darwin designer who creates couture evening wear featuring Aboriginal printed fabrics. All the gowns are one off designs with the focus on enhancing the prints in ball gown style formal wear. The incredible textile artists from Art Centres including Bàbbarra, Injalak Arts & Crafts, Palngun Wurnangat Art Centre and Tiwi Designs are included in the collection.
Art Centre: Marnin Studio
Designer: The Ark
Marnin Studio has secured philanthropic support to deliver a cross cultural women’s collaborative fashion project. The project brings three young women designers and an assistant from Fitzroy Crossing WA together with four young designers from Melbourne. Marnin Studio’s collection represents the body of contemporary design developed throughout the studio over the past four years as part of their artists in residency program across different mediums including block print, screen print and using local bush dyes.