SYDNEY — Lillardia Briggs-Houston has been named fashion designer of the year at Australia’s fourth annual National Indigenous Fashion Awards, which recognize excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fashion and textile design.
The award was one of six prizes presented by the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation’s Indigenous Fashion Projects arm at an event in Darwin, Northern Territory, on Wednesday evening Australian time.
Briggs-Houston is a Wiradjuri, Gangulu, and Yorta Yorta fashion designer and textile artist based in Narrandera, New South Wales. She launched her label in 2019 and her vibrant women’s ready-to-wear collections, which incorporate traditional South-East Aboriginal cultural practices such as carving, bush dying and weaving, have been showcased at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week. She will now enter a 12-month mentorship program with event partner Country Road.
The East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory-based Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts Centre won two awards for works inspired by photographs taken by renowned Australian anthropologist Donald Thompson on Yolngu country in the 1930s: the Traditional Adornment Award and the Community Collaboration Award, the latter in tandem with Darwin environmental artist Aly de Groot.
The Business Achievement Award was won by Ikuntji Artists, which is located in Haasts Bluff, Northern Territory. In May, Ikuntji Artists became the first Aboriginal arts collective to stage a solo runway show at AAFW.
The Textile Design Award was won by Kija artist Rowena Morgan from the Nagula Jarndu Women’s Art and Resource Centre in Broome, Western Australia, while Rhonda Sharpe from the Alice Springs, Northern Territory-based Yarrenyty Arltere Artists collective received the Wearable Art Award.
A record 66 nominees were shortlisted for this year’s awards.
“We have had a significant increase in nominations for this year’s NIFA, which clearly evidences the growth of this sector and the impacts being achieved by the work that IFP and all of the many leaders in the First Nations fashion and textiles space are doing across the country,” said Indigenous Fashion Projects manager Michelle Maynard.
“The work of this year’s winners all carry such a beautiful weaving together of traditional and contemporary practice, imbued with deep connection, pride and love of country and community,” she added. “I think they really represent the heart of our people.”