Hot opening of Australian Fashion Week – WWD
SYDNEY – Thanks to a sudden surge in COVID-19 and an instant lockdown in Melbourne last week, the first thing to greet Afterpay Australian Fashion Week delegates upon arriving at Sydney’s Carriageworks site on Monday morning will be a mandatory temperature.
Next on the agenda will be a 60,000-year-old Aboriginal smoking ceremony – a first for the event.
Performed within a circle of fluorescent pink sand by members of the Muggera Dance Company, holding smoldering eucalyptus leaf branches, Monday morning’s “Welcome to Country” will be accompanied by lyrics by local traditional owner Matthew Doyle to welcome the delegation to Gadigal’s country; Indigenous MC Jarron Andy; a didgeridoo player and four new native model faces that have been signed to IMG Models over the past 12 months, the latter wearing native-designed pieces from the upcoming Eucalyptusdom exhibit at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.
Welcome to Country was practiced in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for thousands of years before British colonization in 1788, as a traditional protocol by which an Aboriginal people requested permission to enter the lands of another people.
The performance was produced and curated by First Nations Fashion and Design, a national voice representing Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander creatives.
It will launch AAFW’s Resort 2022 collections showcase, which will feature 97 Australian and New Zealand fashion brands – nearly 90% of which feature physical catwalks. They include more than a dozen Indigenous designers in two separate showcases on the catwalks and via on-site and virtual showrooms, the latter in partnership with Ordre.com. The AAFW: The Talks program also includes a panel discussion on the burgeoning First Nations fashion industry.
Canceled last year due to COVID, this year’s event has been pushed back several weeks from its usual time slot to allow designers still recovering from the pandemic to prepare their collections. Coincidentally, the event this year falls on the occasion of National Reconciliation Week, an annual celebration of Australian Indigenous history and culture, which aims to foster reconciliation discussions with Indigenous and Islanders. Torres Strait, which represents 3.3% of Australia’s population of 25 million.
“It’s like the ancestors planned it for us without even thinking about it,” FNFD chief executive Teagan Cowlishaw told WWD at Sunday’s welcome to country rehearsal, about when the two events coincide.
She added, “You couldn’t have timed it better, it’s just a nice fusion.”