• The Birrimbi Dugul Bajal or Sea and Rainforest Dreaming collection. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
Golden silk gowns and woven bark head pieces tell myths and legends that are thousands of years old.
By
Andrea Booth

Source:
NITV News
4 Mar 2016 - 4:03 PM  UPDATED 4 Mar 2016 - 5:54 PM

There's a meeting place that local clans have long gathered on the sand dunes where the ocean meets the rainforest in far north Queensland.

This story is told in a handcrafted garment worn by a model on the runway at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, where for the first time Indigenous creations were shown to the world.

"We may be a small country town, but we can mix it with the big cities," says Lynelle Williams, the fashion designer who travelled from Cairns, traditionally known as Yalanji region in the north of Queensland, for the parade.

"This is exciting."

The showcase, Birrimbi Dugul Bajal in Yalanji language or Sea and Rainforest Dreaming that was part of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair last year, "has a lot of heart and soul", says curator Grace Lillian Lee.

"Sharing culture through fashion, I think we all do that, even in the mainstream industry however, I think that it’s really time to share Indigenous culture."

The clothes were made using traditional textile techniques from weaving to hand dying - and they come from Darnley Island in the Torres Strait, Mornington Island, Yarraba and Mossman Gorge.

Ms Lee says the performance has been rewarding for all involved.

"Empower young women and men to get up and stand up, and be proud of who they are and where they come from."

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One of the 20 young models, Benita Williams, says the parade has been one to, "pump up the confidence".

"Get more Indigenous girls on the runway I say, that would be awesome," she told NITV News.

Ms Williams was spotted in 2013 in a local shopping centre in Cairns by Lulus Model Management.

Since then she has taken part in Indigenous Fashion Week before being asked to feature in Melbourne fashion festival.

"Everything is so unique and so beautiful, coming from the communities and the ladies that make it," she told NITV News about the show.

"It's amazing, I feel awesome doing it for them."

Graeme Lewsey, the CEO of Melbourne's fashion festival, says the designers and models have great potential to expand into the mainstream market.

"Fashion's big business at the end of the day," he says.

"People are looking for that unique story, and wow, you've got some incredible stories when you look at what's coming out of this type of framework and these communities."