The Canberra Centre is once again bringing a diverse fashion experience to the city with the display of award-winning garments from the 2023 National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA).
The collection showcases the work of five of the six winning designers and can be found on the glass floor space on Level 1 (outside Zara) until Wednesday 6 September.
This year the glass floor displays all the winner’s designs on a purpose-built six-metre-long raised ‘catwalk’ surrounded by Australian flora. Celebrating the innovation, diversity and ethical practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and fashion designers, from a record 66 nominees—the highest number of nominees since the award’s inception in 2020—the six winners were chosen across six categories.
Alongside the stunning designs, a large television unit that has been skinned in Indigenous artwork by award-winning Artist Kristie Peters is also on display to play the awards promotional video to help educate shoppers who stop to look at the winning garments.
Launched in 2020 as part of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation’s (DAAFF), Indigenous Fashion Projects (IFP), supported by the Northern Territory Government, NIFA provides a vibrant and exciting platform to celebrate the innovation, diversity, and ethical practices of Australia’s First Nations peoples in fashion and textiles, whilst contributing to the capacity building of the sector.
Recognising and showcasing excellence across six categories including traditional adornment, textile design, fashion design, wearable art, community collaboration and business achievement, the award ceremony is a unique opportunity for the Australian and international fashion community to connect to the world’s oldest living cultures.
For the second year running, the Canberra Centre was once again honoured to sponsor the Community Collaboration Award, which celebrates effective and productive relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the textile and fashion industry.
The award considers the collaborative process, Indigenous agency, cultural expression and storytelling, social and economic contribution to Indigenous communities, originality and innovation.
This year it was awarded to Gapuwiyak Culture & Arts X Aly de Groot. As part of the collection that also secured Gapuwiyak Culture & Arts the Traditional Adornment Award, judges also recognised the artists for their collaboration with Darwin artist and designer Aly de Groot.
Working with Aly, the artists took inspiration from the photographs of Donald Thompson–a photographer and journalist who fought to preserve Indigenous culture in the 1930s–into a collaborative workshop to finalise 10 looks that were presented to resounding applause at Country to Couture and Melbourne Fashion Week last year. Bringing designers young and old together, the collection celebrated collaboration and drove economic benefit for the artists’ community.
The Canberra Centre team was also honoured to take local Wiradjuri artist and recipient of2021 ACT NAIDOC Artist of the Year, Kristie Peters, to the awards in Darwin, to help further her clothing design journey. This follows the Centre featuring some of her work amongst the 2022 NIFA winners in last year’s floor display.
The hope is that this kind of support will help Kristie enter next year’s awards as currently there have been no nominations from artists in the Canberra region since the awards began.
“Through our valued partnership with the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation (DAAFF) and Indigenous Fashion Projects (IFP), we aim to promote indigenous local talent, encouraging artists and designers to participate in future National Indigenous Fashion Awards and events,” says Canberra Centre General Manager, Gary Stewart.
The NIFA display at Canberra Centre will run until Wednesday 6 September 2023. More information on the individual winners will be on display with their collections or can be found here.
Photography: Ben Calvert Photography.