INDIGENOUS DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
DENNI FRANCISCO, NGALI
Ngali was founded by Wiradjuri woman, Denni Francisco in 2018 as a platform to bring the artwork of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the world through the medium of clothing and collectables, and to communicate how fashion could work to change mindsets about consumption and respect for Country whilst celebrating Indigenous creativity across mediums.
The process of Ngali’s work operates through the lens of Yindayamarra - fashion that shows respect, is polite, considered, gentle to Country and shows honour to the cross country collaborations with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives.
Denni Francisco is the recipient of Fashion Design Award at the National Indigenous Fashion Awards (2021).
GRACE LILLIAN LEE
Grace Lillian Lee is a multicultural Australian artist known for drawing inspiration from her indigenous heritage. The founder of First Nations Fashion and Design, Grace is a graduate of RMIT University with Honours in Fashion Design and has established herself as one of Australia’s leading Indigenous artists and designers. Her works are collected by the National Gallery of Victoria, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Cairns Art Gallery, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Studies and Kluge-Ruhe University of Virginia.
With a strong desire to work with Communities and to encourage creative expression, her purpose is to guide members towards developing their practice into wearable art and adornment in a contemporary platform. As consultant and mentor, she has worked with Darnley Island and Moa in the Torres Straits, Northern Territory communities Nuiyu and Katherine as well as Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria , Waringarri in Kununurra and many independent creatives.
In 2021, Grace Lillian Lee, produced the first Indigenous Australian runway showcase in fashion week history designed, styled, modelled and staffed backstage by an all-Indigenous cast.
JULIE SHAW, MAARA COLLECTIVE
MAARA Collective is an Australian luxury Resortwear brand launched in 2019 by Yuwaalaraay Creative Director Julie Shaw, to showcase and celebrate Indigenous art and fashion. Since launching, MAARA Collective has gone on to win both the ‘Fashion Design’ and ‘Community Collaboration’ awards at the inaugural National Indigenous Fashion Awards.
MAARA Collective is a previous nominee in the 2020 Australian Fashion Laureate for Best Emerging Australian Designer. The brand was one of seven featured in the Indigenous Fashion Projects show at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week in 2021.
LILLARDIA BRIGGS-HOUSTON, NGARRU MIIMI
Ngarru Miimi is a slow ethical fashion label handprinted, designed and constructed on unceded Wiradjuri country by Lillardia Briggs-Houston, a Wiradjuri Gangulu Yorta Yorta woman based in Narrungdera/Narrandera, Wiradjuri Country. Lillardia aims to create change by using fashion and textiles to challenge perspectives of Aboriginal peoples and culture: that behind the beautiful artwork, textiles and designs there is thousands of years of culture and kinship that represents the true history of the many different nations across these lands – a history that has continually been pushed aside and hidden.
Lillardia's work has featured in publications such as Vogue Australia, Marie Claire and Peppermint magazine. She was also a dual nominee in the inaugural National Indigenous Fashion Awards in 2019 for the 'wearable art and cultural adornment' and 'textile design' category.
Ngarru Miimi was one of six brands featured in the First Nations Fashion and Design runway at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2021.