There’s something in the air in Darwin tonight. It’s not the subtle scent of frangipani or the lingering humidity, it’s the pulse of rousing applause, congratulating the winners of the National Indigenous Fashion Awards.
From 31 nominees, six winners have been crowned in their unique categories in an inspiring ceremony hosted by Rachel Hocking and proudly presented by the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation.
In its second year, the NIFAs have once again celebrated the world’s oldest living culture and provided new pathways for the designers of the future.
Without further ado, it’s our pleasure to introduce you to the 2021 NIFA winners. Drumroll please…
Cultural Adornment and Wearable Art Award: Paul McCann (Melbourne, VIC)
It was the show-stopping moment of Australian Fashion Week in June: when Felicia Foxx took to the First Nations Fashion + Design runway wearing a Paul McCann gown. Now, the Marrithiyel artist has been honoured with the Cultural Adornment and Wearable Art Award for his efforts.
“I created a gown that showed Australia and the world our sovereignty, strength and resilience in the most beautiful way possible,” says McCann.
Fashion Design Award: Denni Francisco, Ngali (Melbourne, VIC)
Recognising a world-class fashion label, the Fashion Design Award has been presented to Wiradjuri designer Denni Francisco at Ngali.
The prize includes a year-long mentorship with iconic Australian retailer Country Road, which will further grow the Ngali label and take Indigenous fashion to an international level. World domination, baby!
Textile Design Award: Eunice Napapangka Jack, Ikuntji Arts (Haasts Bluff, NT)
In 2019, Ikuntji Arts releases its first textile collection, with each piece telling a story of people, place and culture.
Led by acclaimed artist Eunice Napanangka, Ikuntji Arts has taken out the Textile Design Award for their bold prints, vibrant colours and rich talent.
Community Collaboration Award: Anindilyakwa Arts with Dr Aly de Groot and Anna Reynolds (Groote Eylandt, NT)
Storytelling is at the heart of Indigenous culture, and the Community Collaboration Award celebrates that magic and applauds the relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the fashion industry.
This year, the Anindilyakwa Arts collective, including Maicie Lalara and Annabell Amagula, have won the prestigious award for their collaboration with Dr Aly de Groot and Anna Reynolds.
Environmental and Social Contribution Award: Mylene Holroyd of Pormpuraaw Art & Culture featuring Simone Arnol designs (Cairns/Pormpuraaw, QLD)
Mylene Holroyd uses recycled wire found at the local tip and discarded fishing nets washed up on the beach to create ‘ghost net sculptures.’
Her work recognises the connection between the environment and the fashion and design space, and has fittingly taken out the Environmental and Social Contribution Award.
Special Recognition Award: Bima Wear (Tiwi Islands, NT)
For over half a century, Bima Wear, the Tiwi women’s textile design collective has triumphed, struggled and survived.
Tonight, they’ve been honoured with the Special Recognition Award for their exceptional contribution to the industry.
Their pieces are made by Tiwi women with Tiwi cultural practice, enabling the enterprise to enrich the community and vice versa.