• Miss World Australia finalist Magnolia Maymuru takes the catwalk at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair fashion show. (NITV)Source: NITV
Fashion designers have teamed up with Indigenous artists in remote Australia to help take their art from tea towels and t-shirts to couture collections.
By
Ella Archibald-Binge, Natalie Ahmat

Source:
The Point
9 Aug 2016 - 1:43 PM  UPDATED 9 Aug 2016 - 7:19 PM

Darwin may be best known for outback adventure rather than glitz and glamour, but the Top End city could soon be one of the world's top fashion destinations, say organisers of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF). 

Hundreds turned out for the fair's first "From Country to Couture" fashion parade late last week, showcasing designs from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art centres across northern Australia. 

Local Indigenous artists collaborated with experienced fashion designers to develop runway-ready collections for the show. 

'We want more stories in our fashion.'

"The collections are amazing - they're really a great breath of fresh air," says the shows's creative director Mehali Tsangaris. 

"There's so much work that goes into it, there's so many stories... it's really where fashion's moving to. We want more stories in our fashion."

Globally, too, there's a growing interest in First Nations fashion, with a World Indigenous Fashion Week announced today to be held in Malaysia in 2017. 

The growing demand presents a huge economic opportunity, says Kungarakan businesswomen Lenore Dembski, one of the designers involved in teaching and mentoring remote artists.

"People who are getting married don't blink at spending two or three hundred dollars a metre on a fabric," she says. 

"It our mob can do it... selling it through the internet there would be a lot of people who'd want to buy it."

DAAF Foundation chair Franchesca Cubillo says Indigenous art is also moving into the home decor sector.

"If you open any Australian Vogue furnishing magazine or lifestyle magazine you'll find that Aboriginal art is front and centre - it is on the walls, it is beautiful cushions, it's lovely mats, it is carpets," she says. 

Given the wealth of First Nations artwork on display at last week's Aboriginal art fair, Mr Tsangaris says the Indigenous fashion scene is poised to explode: "If we can even get 20 percent of that in the fashion stakes, we're going to see an explosion". 

WATCH: Go behind the scenes with art lecturers Brigida Stewart and Amanda McMillan

See more on this story - tonight at 9pm on The Point with Stan Grant