In a historic first for Australian Fashion Week, Indigenous Australian designer Denni Francisco, the creative force behind the Indigenous clothing label Ngali, is set to host a standalone fashion show. The event is scheduled to take place from May 15 to 19, marking a significant milestone in the event’s 23-year history.
Denni Francisco, a proud Wiradjuri woman, is a two-time winner of the Designer of the Year award at the National Indigenous Fashion Awards. This will be her third appearance at Australian Fashion Week, having previously participated in the Indigenous Fashion Projects runway in 2021 and 2022.
Hosting a solo show is a substantial undertaking for Ngali, with 30 looks to be showcased compared to the typical six to eight looks in a group show. However, Francisco views it as a collective effort, aiming to collaborate with First Nations accessory designers and other creatives. She emphasizes that Ngali’s approach is all about bringing in more Indigenous talent and celebrating their collective creativity.
Australian Fashion Week has slightly pared down its schedule this year, featuring 45 designers presenting resort collections over five days. IMG, the global entertainment conglomerate behind the event since 2005, is continuing its policy of not charging designers to participate, a move designed to support the industry’s recovery from the pandemic’s impact.
The fashion scene is still grappling with the aftershocks of the pandemic, with some brands facing financial difficulties. However, this year’s event also includes celebrations of business milestones, such as Gary Bigeni’s 20 years in the industry and Bianca Spender’s 15th year in business.
New Zealand designer Maggie Hewitt of Maggie Marilyn will make her Australian Fashion Week debut, emphasizing her commitment to transparency in manufacturing and size inclusivity.
The fashion industry is evolving, and the inclusion of Indigenous designers like Denni Francisco and a commitment to diversity are important steps toward a more inclusive and representative fashion landscape in Australia.
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