• Five First Nations designers put their wares on the runway last night. (WireImage)Source: WireImage
A smorgasbord of First Nations talent was on display Tuesday night, including designers, models and the incomparable Jess Mauboy.
Dan Butler

11 May 2022 - 12:04 PM  UPDATED 11 May 2022 - 12:11 PM

Following the astonishing success of last year's inaugural First Nations Fashion Design showcase, the return of Australian Fashion Week will have fashion tragics looking out for more deadly threads. 

Friday will see the major runway event again take place, but some of the country's leading First Nations designers have already had the chance to ply their wares in a showcase Tuesday night. 

An initiative of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation, the Indigenous Fashion Projects Runway displayed the works of five designers: Kirrikin, by Wonnarua designer Amanda Healy; Liandra Swim, by Yolngu designer Liandra Gaykamangu; Maara Collective, by Yuwaalaraay designer Julie Shaw; Native Swimwear, by Biripi and Ngarabal designer Natalie Cunningham; and Ngali, by Wiradjuri designer Denni Francisco.

The showcase focused on sustainable practice, a driving ethos for each of the designers. 

Creative Director Shilo McNamee said the runway aesthetics were designed to take guests on an "immersive sensory journey" from the desert to the sea.

“Connection to Country is core to the artistic practice of so many First Nations designers and creatives, it’s been so rewarding to see this represented on the runway," said McNamee.

"I feel extremely grateful to have been able to work with so many talented people and to be mentored by industry leaders."

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The designers are supported in a 'pathways' program supported by David Jones, which provides "workshops, seminars and direct mentorships with established Australian designers," the company said in a statement.

In keeping with last year's smorgasbord of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander talent, the designs were put on show by the big names in First Nations modelling, Samantha Harris, Nathan McGuire and Magnolia Maymuru.

And in a final flourish which brought a touch of Aboriginal royalty to the evening, Kuku Yalanji artist Jess Mauboy wowed the audience with a performance of her latest single, 'Automatic'.

“It was such an honour to collaborate with Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation’s Indigenous Fashion Projects and take part in this year’s IFP Runway," said Mauboy.

"I have been a long-time advocate for supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creativity and it’s an experience that I won’t forget for a long time and an initiative that’s close to my heart.”

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.