In 2016, the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair celebrated its 10th Anniversary. As part of the celebrations, the DAAF Foundation presented an exciting new event to the program: “From Country to Couture” – The DAAF Fashion Show! It was held on Friday, 5th August 2016 and welcomed over 400 guests.

This spectacular event was the culmination of several years of conversation and collaboration, planning, feedback and strong request from our Art Centre membership. The vision for the show was to marry high end fashion with contemporary fine art. The culmination of textile art and fashion was electric, and as the DAAFF Chair, Franchesca Cubillo eloquently said:

“It is designs and patterns that have been handed by the Ancestors down to our Peoples. So textiles – be it chiffon, be it linen, be it cotton – it just absorbs that energy, that has been dancing across this country for millennia”

The high level of public and industry support, reflected the growth and interest in contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art textile art, through fashion. The stunning display of garments and accessories pumping to an incredible music selection, was not only aesthetically amazing, but conveyed cultural stories of tradition and Country. 

From Country to Couture” showcased Art Centres’ current collections. These fashion lines represented a beautiful cross section of culture and country – from Broome to Central Australia, to Arnhem Land and island communities. There was a stunning array of garments ranging from colourful active wear to floaty evening wear, race wear, and the more avant garde.

The Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation would like to sincerely thank and congratulate the Art Centres  and fashion designers for their incredible contributions. A warm thank you to:

  • Babbarra Designs (Maningrida, NT), with designs from Babbarra Designs and Sally Lyons from All Figured Out
  • Erub Arts (Darnley Island, QLD)
  • Larrakia Elder and fabric designer Gary Lang (Darwin, NT) with designer Sarina Cowcher
  • Merrepen Arts (Daly River, NT) with designer Raw Cloth
  • Mi Art Designs (Mornington Island, QLD)
  • Nagula Jarndu (Broome, WA) with designer Jaimee Millar
  • Palngun Warnangat (Wadeye, NT) with designer Adrianna Dent from Albertini
  • Tiwi Designs (Bathurst Island, NT) with designer Lenore Dembski from Paperbark Woman
  • Warlukurlangu Artists, Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands and Utopia (Central Desert, NT) and Batchelor Institute (Visual Arts)
  • Yarrabah Art Centre (Yarrabah, QLD)

A strong focus was made by DAAFF to utilise local Darwin expertise. NT Fashion Week’s Mehali Tsangaris brought professionalism and pizazz to the event as the show’s Creative Director. Passerella Models and Paperbark modelling agencies provided us with stunning models and Miilan’s hair and makeup was flawless. A special thanks too, to the Darwin Convention Centre and Fusion Exhibition and Hire Services. DAAFF would also like to acknowledge the Chief Minister’s Department of the Northern Territory Government for enabling us to realise our vision.

It was an absolute highlight of the show, and an honour to include Magnolia Maymuru from East Arnhem Land, as the face of the 2016 DAAF Fashion Show. From Country to Couture was Magnolia’s debut catwalk appearance following the finale of her 2016 Miss World Australia campaign, as the first NT representative in the event.  Leila Gurruwiwi, NITV and Marngrook Footy Show regular, was charming as Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

While the launch of the event was a trifle delayed – just like a bride on her wedding day –  the Fashion Show was a sensory spectacular worth waiting for with pumping music, a dynamic visual display and of course the incredible couture.  The event was livestreamed on the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Facebook page for those who couldn’t make it to the performance.