The National Indigenous Fashion Awards recognise excellence in First Nations design. This year’s winners were selected from 31 nominees, and awarded in six categories. It’s been a truly incredible year in Blak fashion, and the judges’ selections are a reflection of the stellar talent rightfully garnering attention. 

The winners were announced at the official NIFA ceremony on Larrakia Country, broadcast live on NITV’s Facebook Live with Warlpiri woman Rachel Hocking presenting. 

Take a look!

Cultural Adornment and Wearable Art — Paul McCann

Felicia Foxx struts Paul’s stuff during the First Nations Fashion Week.
Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

The dress that needs no introduction: this was the show-stopping moment of the already iconic First Nations Fashion Week earlier this year. 

Cultural adornment and wearable art go deeper than just the decorative, it is a visual vocabulary, enriched with cultural expression.

Presented by the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation, this Award shines a spotlight on items that are created and worn as expressive pieces of fine art to celebrate diversity and culture.

“I created a gown that showed Australia and the world our sovereignty, strength and resilience in the most beautiful way possible,” said Paul McCann.

Fashion Design — Denni Francisco, Ngali 

A model wears a work by Denni Francisco for Ngali.
Source: Getty Images

The Fashion Design Award recognises a commercial fashion label that has produced a minimum of two collections of original design comprising clothing, jewellery or accessories.

Ngali is a quality, sustainable fashion label created by Denni Francisco, a Wiradjuri woman. The label is world-class and takes Indigenous fashion to an international level. Ngali clearly communicates cultural expression and commercial capabilities.

This award is proudly presented by Country Road, which will see Ngali benefit from a 12-month mentorship with the iconic Australian fashion and lifestyle brand. 

Textile Design — Eunice Napanangka Jack, Ikuntji Artists

Eunice Napanangka
Source: Sarah Mackie

Indigenous textile design holds deep meaning and continues to push the boundaries of contemporary First Nations cultures. It is a medium that offers freedom, where the use of the vibrant colours in textile design is represented in new expressions of old stories, which enable artists to stretch their imagination.

Eunice Napanangka
Source: Supplied.

Internationally renowned artist, Eunice Napanangka Jack is the only living founding member of Ikuntji Artists and has been involved in the art of printing since the early 1990s. She first experimented with printing on t-shirts in 1992 and has since become one of the key textile designers at Ikuntji Artists since 2017. In 2019, Ikuntji Artists proudly released its first textile collection and each design tells a story of people, place and culture.

Community Collaboration — Anindilyakwa Arts, with Dr Aly de Groot and Anna Reynolds 

Source: Anna Reynolds

When Indigenous and non-Indigenous creatives come together to share histories and ideas through cultural storytelling, their wider communities can be celebrated.

The Anindilyakwa Arts collective, in particular Maicie Lalara and Annabell Amagula, have collaborated with artists and designers Dr Aly de Groot and Anna Reynolds to present their innovative designs at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair and Country to Couture since 2017.

In 2020, they worked with Shonae Hobson and Bendigo Art Gallery to participate in a curated fashion exhibition, which moved to the National Museum Australia. A number of their unique pieces have been nationally acquired.

Environmental and Social Contribution — Mylene Holroyd, feat. Simone Arnol designs 

Mylene Holroyd
Source: Cristina Bevilacqua

This award celebrates excellence and leadership in the environmental and social space. It is a recognition for the understanding and practice of these concepts in relation to textiles and fashion.

Mylene’s designs are a nod to ‘ghost net sculpture,’ which started a decade ago, with Pormpuraaw Art one of the pioneers of the genre. These sculptures focus on utilising recycled materials and used wire and cable found at the local tip and abandoned fish nets washed up on beaches. Simone Arnol’s designs can be found here. 

Special Recognition Award — Bima Wear 

Bima wear
Source: Bima Wear

Presented by the Northern Territory Government, this award is for a group, organisation, or individual that has shown exceptional contribution to the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander textiles and fashion.

For over half a century, Bima Wear, the Tiwi women’s textile design and manufacturing powerhouse has triumphed, struggled and survived.

Bima Wear
Source: George F Photography

Collective and autonomous decision making by Tiwi women and Tiwi cultural practice are the bedrocks of Bima Wear’s success, enabling the enterprise to serve its community while remaining instep with fashion and technology advancements.

Watch the full National Indigenous Fashion Awards TONGIHT on NITV Facebook Live here

Follow on Twitter at #NIFA2021 

First Nations designers and artists make history at Australian Fashion Week
GALLERY: The curated event presented the works of seven First Nations designers, worn by all-Indigenous models. Take a look at the deadly designs.