In a brand-new initiative, the NGV
will present the inaugural Indigenous Fashion Commission, celebrating extraordinary fashion and design in Australia by commissioning a designer to produce an ambitious new work for the NGV Collection. Debuting at the NGV Gala in December 2022, the Commission celebrates the innovation, diversity and creativity of First Nations design practices.
This years commission is a collaboration between Yuwaalaraay woman Julie Shaw, Founder and Creative Director of MAARA Collective, and master Yolŋu weavers Evonne Munuyngu, Lisa Gurrulpa, Serena Gubuyani, Mary Dhapalany and Margaret Malibirr from Bulabula Arts. In June 2022, Shaw travelled to Ramingining in Northeast Arnhem Land, where the artists together created the bodice for the gown using hand-dyed and woven pandanus fibres. Artists from Ramingining have been working with natural fibres to create conical mats, mindirr (dilly bags) and djerrk (bush string bags) for thousands of years. Combining Shaws vision for storytelling with the artist's intricate weaving practices, the voluminous couture gown is their most ambitious work to date.
Made possible with a significant philanthropic grant from NGV Trustee and Foundation Board Member Krystyna Campbell-Pretty AM and family, each commission is acquisitive, entering the NGVs growing Collection of Fashion and Textiles. The Indigenous Fashion Commission acknowledges the important contribution First Nations designers make to contemporary fashion in Australia and will help enable the NGV to broaden its collection in new and exciting ways.
Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV, said: Thanks to the remarkable generosity of Krystyna Campbell-Pretty, the NGV is honoured to present the Indigenous Fashion Commission and strengthen our representation of Indigenous designers in the NGV Collection. This exceptional gown by Julie Shaw and the weavers at Bulabula Arts is awe-inspiring and embodies a beautiful intersection between high fashion and cultural craftsmanship.
Julie Shaw, Designer, said: My vision was for this couture-style dress to be inherently Australian and to hold the influences and craftsmanship of Indigenous artists. For this project, I see the weavers as the couturiers, and Country as their atelier.
The 2022 Indigenous Fashion Commission will debut at the NGV Gala, a celebration of art and fashion, on Saturday 10 December 2022 and be worn by Awabakal model Charlee Fraser.
Julie Shaw is a Yuwaalaraay woman from Lightning Ridge in New South Wales. In 2019, she launched her label MAARA Collective an Australian luxury resort wear line that embraces a collaborative approach to fashion and design. The word MAARA refers to hands in Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay languages groups and references the brands unique approach to collaboration. MAARA works closely with Indigenous artists and creatives to create bold collections that celebrate Indigenous art and culture through the lens of contemporary fashion.
Shaws reputation as a leading figure in Indigenous Australian fashion has placed her at the forefront of contemporary design practice. She is the recipient of the Marie Claire 2022 Designer of the Year Award, two National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA), the Indigenous Designer of the Year in the Australian Fashion Laureate (2021) the Fashion
Design Award (2020) and Community Collaboration (2020) Award presented by the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation (DAAFF). MAARA Collective was also a finalist in the Australian Fashion Laureate (2020) for Best Emerging Australian Designer and was a finalist in the National Designer Award (2021).
Proudly Yolngu; BulaBula Arts is situated in Ramingining within Gurrwiliny (Arafura wetlands) and is part of Northeast Arnhem Land. BulaBulas mission is to foster Yolngu culture. Bulabula represents strong professional artists producing high quality artworks telling stories of cultural lore learned through song and dance. This storytelling is reinterpreted into paintings and objects, which have traditional ritual and ceremonial significance.
The Indigenous Fashion Commission will be on display from 21 December 2022 at NGV International. Free entry.