Words: Erin Irwin
The National Indigenous Fashion Awards, presented by Indigenous Fashion Projects, have revealed their winners for 2023. The awards celebrate the best of first Nations design in fashion and textiles, with winners selected by judges Perina Drummond from Jira Models, Yatu Widders Hunt of Cox Inall Ridgeway, @ausindigenousfashion and board member of the Australian Fashion Council, the Design Manager for Womenswear at Country Road Nimmi Premaratne, and artist and curator Lisa Waup. Each winner will receive tailored funding, mentorships, and other opportunities to encourage their design and artistic practice.
Winner of the Traditional Adornment Award were the artists of Gapuwiyak Culture & Arts, who also won the award for Community Collaboration Award in conjunction with Aly de Groot. The former recognises the best submissions for design embracing traditional dress, which is a key expression of culture and creativity, and the latter celebrates an inspirational relationship between First Nations communities and the textile and fashion industry.
The Business Achievement Award went to Ikuntji Artists, who have shown excellent leadership within the sector, and have been collaborative and inventive in the production of their textile collection.
The Textile Design Award went to Rowena Morgan of Nagula Jarndu Art Centre, who produces hand-printed textiles that celebrate her Kija ancestry and connection to Country.
Rhonda Sharpe of Yarrenyty Arltere Artists won the Wearable Art Award, which rewards the designer of a single item that demonstrates both impeccable design and artistic expression. Her dillybag was inspired by her great grandmother Old Laddie, embellished with emu feathers.
Lillardia Briggs-Houston snagged the Fashion Designer Award, receiving a 12-month business mentorship with Country Road to further her already impressive design portfolio. This is the third year Briggs-Houston has been a nominee, having won in the Wearable Art category in 2022.
“We’re so inspired by the breadth of work presented this year across the NIFA categories,” said Indigenous Fashion Projects Manager Michelle Maynard, “the way we are seeing the transference of knowledge and story through the mediums of textiles and fashion are really exciting. The work of this year’s winners all carry such a beautiful weaving together of traditional and contemporary practice imbued with deep connection, pride and love of Country and community. I think they really represent the heart of our people.”
The designs of the winners and nominees will tour the Canberra Centre, Canberra, Robina Town Centre on the Gold Coast, Castle Towers in Sydney, and Eastland in Melbourne. The event will be broadcast on NTV on Friday 18 August, after which it will be available to view on SBS On Demand.
This article was posted 16 August 2023.
Image: National Indigenous Fashion Awards 2023. Photo: Marley Morgan. Courtesy: the artists and creators, Indigenous Fashion Projects, and the National Indigenous Fashion Awards.