First Nations fashion excellence was on display on Tuesday night at the Country to Couture runway shows as part of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair on Larrakia Country.

Featuring a plethora of different First Nations designers and artists from Australia, the Country to Couture runway was split into two different shows.

The event celebrated the textile design movement amongst remote Indigenous communities and the innovative fashion collections and collaborations between artists and designers.

Some First Nations creatives whose art and designs were on the runway include House of Darwin, Ngali, Juluwarlu Art Group, Tiwi Design and Gantharri.

Yirrkala spoken word artist Melanie Mununggurr performed spoken word for the audience while singer Caiti Baker sung alongside her.

Kariyarra, Ngarluma, Nyul Nyul and Yawuru photographer, artist and designer of Gantharri Bobbi Lockyer used to watch the Country to Couture runway online.

This year her designs were on the runway.

“I’ve always had that thought or I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have my own work walking down the runway,” Lockyer said.

“And now it’s coming true and I’m really excited to see it.”

Lockyer said her debut collection was inspired by the ocean in Port Hedland.

“A lot of the pieces on this runway are inspired by the coral, the ocean and the seashells in Kariyarra Country, Port Hedland,” she said.

“I spent my childhood at the beach growing up and the tides would go right out and we could walk on the reef and look at the coral.

“I’ve always been obsessed with all the little colours, patterns and textures of corals so I wanted to include that in my designs as well the stories of my childhood at the beach.”

Indigenous Fashion Projects Mentor, David Giles-Kaye said Country to Couture has only continued to grow since its establishment in 2016.

“Every year it’s gotten better and better and the quality of what people are doing is more incredible and more creative and high quality,” he said.

“It’s a way of building capability and we have programs that are around supporting people where we can to develop capability connect to people that can help.

“Really the purpose is an opportunity for people to really express their culture, through passion in a public space but also a safe space.”

Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair continues tomorrow with the National Indigenous Fashion Awards. The fair runs until August 7.

Designers on the Country to Couture runway included:

Show 1:

  • Injalak Arts with Lily Durland with contribution by Ally Beahan and Sister Buffalo
  • Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts in collaboration with Aly de Groot
  • Gali Swimwear by David Leslie in collaboration with Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts, Jasmine Miikika Craciun and Warlukurlangu Artists.
  • Juluwarlu Art Group
  • House of Darwin by Shaun Edwards in collaboration with Luna Tunes
  • Yarrenyty Arltere Artists
  • Hopevale Arts & Culture in collaboration with QUT
  • Ngali by Denni Francisco in collaboration with Lindsay Malay from Warmun Art

Show 2:

  • KAMARA in collaboration with Matakupaat Arts
  • Nagula Jarndu Designs
  • Ikuntji Artists in collaboration with Black Cat Couture
  • Tiwi Design in collaboration with Ossom
  • Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance
  • DandalooSu by Su Lousick
  • Gantharri by Bobbi Lockyer
  • Buluuy Mirrii by Colleen Tighe Johnson
  • Linda Puna from Mimili Maku Arts in collaboration with Unreal Fur