The Winners Of The 2022 Australian Fashion Laureate Are The New Frontier Of Aussie Design

The emerging and established names to know.

They say the most suitable present for a 15th anniversary celebration is a crystal, however for the prestigious Australian Fashion Laureate, the best gift is not one they receive, but rather one they bestow on some of the most prominent figures in the Australian fashion industry.

It’s officially award season both here and abroad, but where its contemporaries go big (see: the star-studded CFDA Awards), the Australian Fashion Laureate opted to celebrate it’s 15th iteration with an exclusive soirée at the Museum of Contemporary Art, gathering established and emerging voices at the frontier of Australian fashion to honour the resilient, inimitable and globally-recognised industry.

So, rather than a crystal, the Australian Fashion Laureate opted (rather selflessly) to recognise the (impeccably dressed) individuals leading Australia’s fashion scene into a brave new world through their significant contributions to the growth and cultural impact of fashion.

The big ticket winner was innately Australiana painter Ken Done.

For those unfamiliar with his high-octane and exuberant, expressionist paintings (you clearly weren’t paying attention during the Sydney 2000 Olympic games), Done’s work is inextricably linked to Australia’s cultural scene.

His work, whether it appeared screen-printed on sweaters in the 80s or found inside his gallery, has provided a source of sartorial inspiration for upcoming designers.

Amongst those is Romance Is Born, the 2021 winners of the Australian Fashion Laureate ‘Designer Of The Year’ award, who collaborated with Done for their magical disco-grotto inspired Resort ‘22 show during AAFW.

“It is a great honour to be here, I’m not humbled, f**k it. At 82, I’ve been working really hard for a long time. I’m not humbled… but thank you very much for this kind of unexpected award, really. I’m very, not humbled, but grateful,” explained Done in his acceptance speech. 

“A few years ago I had a big exhibition and I rushed over to look at all the comments but it was the one that was less than congratulatory that you remember,” he added. 

“This is one I treasure that was signed ’10 year old girl’ and she had written ‘Really Ken? I can do better paintings and I’m still in Primary school. Next time try harder’, so with all the things that we do we try harder.”

If one thing is clear by this lifetime achievement award, a lifetime of trying is well worth it. 

This year, Camilla Freeman-Topper and Marc Freeman took home the ‘Designer Of The Year’ accolade.

Across the board, their eponymous brand CAMILLA AND MARC has become synonymous with contemporary Australian luxury womenswear. A style staple within every Australian women’s wardrobe in every sense of the word.

While the sibling duo has been the vanguards of effortlessly elegant ready-to-wear since their inception in 2003, the pair have recently entered a new creative era. One that is marked by a refreshed vision, evolved future and a new monogram to boot.

But, beneath the surface, their advocacy for ovarian cancer awareness through their annual campaign ‘Ovaries. Talk About Them’, sets them apart from their contemporaries. Having achieved all this and more in a year, it’s only fitting for CAMILLA AND MARC to be recognised with an award of this magnitude.

Throughout the ceremony, one thing became clear amongst the winners. They all possess an unwavering dedication to sustainability, advocacy and preserving the distinct qualities that make Australian fashion, well, Australian. 

Take Clothing The Gap for instance, who walked away with the Indigenous Designer of the Year award.

Designed by Laura Thompson, the First Nations run and lead brand, which is a play on the Australian Government healthcare initiative ‘Closing The Gap’, designed to celebrate, uplift and honour Aboriginal culture—the world’s oldest continuous culture.

“This is for all Indigenous fashion and how we continue to shake up and decolonize runways into the future,” Thompson explained in her acceptance speech.

Or Sarah Munro and Robert Sebastian Grynkofki, the multidisciplinary designers behind cult-favourite jewellery brand SARAH & SEBASTIAN.

The pair were recognised as the ‘Sustainable Innovation of the Year’ thanks to their dedication to ethical jewellery. Recently, the brand pledged $1 million towards ocean conservation highlighting their commitment to protecting and honouring Australia’s unique biodiversity.

Emerging Designer of the Year award for her upcoming (and already cult-favourite) brand ALÉMAIS.

Jermanus has gone strength to strength this year, with each collection released a bigger success than the one before, selling out and cropping up on It girls around the country. Not only is this award an accumulation of her accomplishments to date, but a teaser of what to come.

Next year, ALÉMAIS will be open Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, further proof that Jermanus is a star on the rise.

The Australian Fashion Laureate is proof that our fashion industry is a constellation of supernovas, each shining bright with no sign of burning out.

Perhaps, the crystals weren’t the awards itself, but the individuals who make up this stellar community.

Keep reading for the full list of winners from the Australian Fashion Laureate 2022. 

Australian Fashion Laureate Award Winners 2022

Australian Fashion Laureate for Lifetime Achievement

Ken Done

Designer of the Year, presented by BTC Markets

Camilla Freeman-Topper and Marc Freeman, CAMILLA & MARC

Emerging Designer of the Year, presented by LG Laundry Appliances

Lesleigh Jermanus, ALÉMAIS

Indigenous Designer of the Year, presented by Redken

Laura Thompson, Clothing the Gaps

Sustainable Innovation of the Year, presented by DHL

Sarah Munro and Robert Sebastian Grynkofki, Sarah and Sebastian

Carla Zampatti Award for Excellence in Leadership, presented by Porsche

Leila Naja Hibri

People’s Choice, presented by Afterpay

Rebecca Vallance

Related stories