Ngali Makes History At AAFW As The First Standalone First Nations Runway

"For First Nations fashion, the future is exciting!"

As Denni Francisco (Ngali founder and designer) sent her first model down the runway at this morning’s Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, history began to unravel. 

Debuting the first-ever standalone First Nations runway presentation at AAFW, The Murriyang Collection was an emotion-filled celebration of culture and Country.
Ngali featured at the Melbourne Fashion Festival in 2023. (Credit: Image: Getty)

We Denni Francisco sat down with marie claire Australia to share the inspiration behind her collection and reflect on the monumental growth of the label.

What Is On Your Mood Board Right Now?

Colour – colour that represents Country, Sky and Water and the prints that are translated from First Nations artworks. The prints that feel multi-dimensional in a way that represents all of these essential elements that sit in the ethos of Ngali as a First Nations brand.

Tell Me About This Collection?

The collection is designed in the spirit of Yindayamarra – fashion pieces that are softly considered, gentle to Country and show honour and respect to the cross country collaborations we have with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives.

(Credit: Getty.)

What Does The Future Look Like For Australian Fashion?

DF: I am not sure what it means for Australian fashion itself but for First Nations fashion the future is exciting! There is so much First Nations’ creativity now being seen across so many disciplines that enhance the fashion space. I can’t wait to see all that is to come in our space.

Which Fashion Creatives Have Inspired You At Different Points Of Your Career?

DF: I am inspired every day by our First Nations industry talent. The models who have fundraised to get to fashion events and now are killing it on the runways nationally and internationally, the other designers who use their talent to tell the stories of our culture whilst acknowledging the pathways created by our Ancestors, the creatives who lift up and support other First Nations in the fashion space so that more can see great opportunities for their own creative journey, the First Nations artists whose endless creativity constantly inspires me to honour them in how we can translate and celebrate that art through the collections we create.

Ngali designs showcased at the Indigenous Fashion Projects show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2022. (Credit: Image: Getty)

About The Ngali AAFW 2023 Collection: 

From delicate draping, fused with rich prints translated from the work of several First Nations artists, the collection leant a voice to the rich cultural history of First Nations artistry. Weaving textured accessories throughout each look, from floating feathers to layered multimedia work jewelry. 
(Credit: Getty.)
Lending tonal and textured inspiration from the natural world, The Murriyang Collection “celebrates Country as it can be seen from the sky, picking up the elects of land and water,” said Francisco.

Silk scarves knotted into bag accessories and hand-painted boots were some of the standout details from the show. Although, it was the showcase of considered collaborations that brought each piece to life. Combining the talents of a number of First Nations creatives, Ngali’s debut perhaps wasn’t a solo one, but a fusion of forces where limitless possibilities could take flight.

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