Leading the charge of winners was Anna Plunket and Luke Sales, who were recognised as the Designer Of The Year for 2021. Their ‘RWB Forever’ presentation at the Afterpay Australian Fashion Week was lauded by the industry and definitely a showstopper from the week, and just one of many reasons the creative duo have been awarded this prestigious accolade.
Speaking on their brand, Sales said, "when we first started be basically just had bags of trash", with Plunket commenting that the award is a testament to their "commitment to a progressive fashion ideology and social responsibility".
The industry’s pinnacle honour, the Australian Fashion Laureate Lifetime Achievement Award, was granted to Linda Jackon AO. Jackson’s enviable career spans decades.
Known for her work as a pioneering artist and her eclectic designs, Jackson joins the likes of Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy of Dinosaur Designs with this honour.
The Emerging Designer Award went to COMMAS' Richard Jarman, celebrating his unique and ethical approach to contemporary fashion. Our highlight? The sunrise resort show during AAFW and his androgynous approach to resort wear.
In his acceptance speech, Jarman obviously thanked his wife Emma, but also mentioned bassike for the part they play in the opening doors and supporting the community of Australian sustainable fashion designers.
Now, more than ever, sustainability is a huge focus for the global fashion industry. This year, the Sustainable Innovation award went to bassike's Deborah Sams and Mary Lou Ryan for their circular design approach, use of sustainable materials, transparency and social impact.
Other winners include Grace Lillian Lee, who was awarded the inaugural Carla Zampatti Award For Excellence in Leadership. Lee's acknowledgements was truly a highlight of the afternoon, with the designer opening her speech by stating "I finally has the attention of so many people I've wanted to reach for so long".
Through tears, Lee reminded us that her brand is a "journey of self discovery and healing".
"First Nations Fashion and Design are the next generation of leaders, the future of fashion is here and it's only the beginning."
Julie Shaw of MAARA Collective won the first ever Indigenous Designer of Year award, and Elizabeth Abegg and Isabella Pennefather of cult label Spell, took home the People’s Choice award.
The Fashion Laureate Awards capped off a mammoth year for the local fashion industry. Between a historic Afterpay Australian Fashion Week (the first return to the runway on an international scale), and a celebratory Melbourne Fashion Week, creativity and craftsmanship was honoured after a turbulent 18 months working from home.
While 2021 draws to a close, given the prowess and talent of our established and emerging creatives, we’re confident that our fashion industry's future is brighter and better than ever. The vanguard is flourishing, and we’re in safe hands.
If this ceremony is anything to go by, the industry is taking a step in the right direction. A more diverse, inclusive, sustainable and trailblazing community of creatives. We can’t wait to see what’s next.
Peep all the big winners from the awards below.
Australian Fashion Laureate Award Winners 2021
Designer of the Year
Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales, Romance Was Born
Emerging Designer of the Year
Richard Jarman, COMMAS
Sustainable Innovation of the Year
Deborah Sams and Mary Lou Ryan, bassike
Indigenous Designer of the Year
Julie Shaw, MAARA Collective
Australian Fashion Laureate Lifetime Achievement Award
Linda Jackson AO
Carla Zampatti Award for Excellence in Leadership
Grace Lillian Lee
Elizabeth Abegg and Isabella Pennefather, Spell
Keep scrolling on for images of all the winners.