The future is First Nations. That was the message that came loud and clear as the final show for Afterpay Australian Fashion Week came to a close on Friday, May 13.
The First Nations Fashion + Design Show showcased eight talented Indigenous designers, Nungala Creative, Ihraa Swim, Gantharri, Myrrdah, Ikuntji Artists, Paul McCann, Clothing The Gap and Eliverina Johnson X Taking Shape.
As each presented a handful of their designs, models walked confidently down the runway. Their eyes pierced into the cameras awaiting them at the end. They came with a purpose—and that, they fulfilled.
Down the runway came models wearing flowing gowns emblazoned with the neon coloured phrase, “The future is First Nations”. It set the tone for what was ahead.
Beautiful pastel swimwear, bold and bright prints, and long flowing garments made their way down the runway as each designer had their moment—the visuals were something else.
Marrithiyel Aboriginal Artist, Paul McCann’s collection served as a particular standout—glitzy, perfectly obtuse dresses were showcased on both male and female presenting bodies. It wasn’t difficult to see why the crowd went absolutely wild.
Aboriginal-designed label, Clothing The Gaps, then presented its collection with models walking down the runway with signs reading the land they were from.
“I am Maara,” one sign read.
“I am Wakka Wakka,” said another.
The moment was powerful, it was historic, and, more than anything else, it was important.
As the show came to an end, the audience was on its feet. Designers came back onto the runway with friends and family to do one last round.
With that, Australia Fashion Week came to a close—and what a close it was. As the final show told us, it always was, always will be Aboriginal land.