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Working on First Nations Fashion Design - AAFW

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

Words by Adelaide Sinclair

After weeks of early mornings and concerningly vivid dreams about seating charts, it’s hard to believe that we could miss working on a fashion show this much.

From the first day hearing about First Nations Fashion + Design (FNFD), Bec, Lilli and myself understood what a massive honour and opportunity working on their show for AfterPay Australian Fashion Week (AAFW) would be. For the first time at AAFW, FNFD was putting on a show with a complete line-up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designers and cast. This was to be an incredibly monumental moment not only for this collective of incredible talent, but also for the fashion industry and broader Indigenous community.

Over the weeks working with Mother & Father PR on the show, we developed such admiration for how the members of FNFD approached every fitting, casting and photoshoot with a consistent sense of focus, positivity and community. In cultivating this environment, we were offered an incredible opportunity to ask some hard questions and further educate ourselves on Indigenous issues. We learnt about Vincent Lingiari, Mabo, and how traditional dancing connects generations through storytelling. We learnt that something as simple as an email signature paying respects to the traditional and rightful owners of the land on which you stand can represent and mean so much. We learnt the importance of consistent, unapologetic allyship.

When the day of the show finally arrived, there was barely a moment for our emotions to sink in. After a quick (read: necessary) visit to the make-up chair, it was time to get to work. There were press releases to finalise, media to coordinate and guests to seat. Before we knew it, the stage was set, the models were dressed, and the moving tones of Willam Barton were echoing across Gallery 1.

I’ve never liked the phrase ‘you had to be there’ but, honestly - you had to be there. Never before have I experienced being in a room where it feels like everyone is holding their breath at the same time. By the time Electric Fields took the floor to perform ‘From Little Things, Big Things Grow’, there didn’t seem to be a single person who was not moved to tears. With our weeks of emotional investment (and, let’s face it, exhaustion) I was not surprised to see Bec, Lilli and myself crying. But it was so incredible to see that even well-rested people were moved by the gravity of this moment. This is entirely a testament to the work and collections of First Nations Fashion + Design, their cast and the unbelievable musicians. Together they told a story that was undeniable and began a movement that will be unstoppable.

We were so honoured to have played a small part in this history-making show and extend our deepest gratitude to First Nations Fashion + Design and Mother & Father PR for including us.

We acknowledge the Ancestors and the Traditional Owners of this nation, and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

Always was, always will be.

FNFD Teaser video edited by TFI students Adelaide Sinclair, Bec Sharp & Lilli Watt.

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