Australia fashion week will host its first solo show for an Indigenous designer in its 23-year history this May. Denni Francisco of the Indigenous clothing label Ngali is gearing up to hold her first solo show in an honor she’s calling “exciting, exhilarating, and a little bit terrifying.”
“When you’re the first at doing something it comes with a degree of responsibility. There are cultural elements that come with everything we do, so it’s not just the creativity, it’s about ensuring it all comes together in a culturally appropriate way.”
Francisco is a proud Wiradjuri woman, and has won designer of the year at the National Indigenous Fashion Awards twice.
This will mark the third time Francisco has had a showing at Australian Fashion Week, but will be the first time she’s had her own standalone show; previously she was featured as one of six designers on the Indigenous Fashion Projects runway show.
Francisco previously was able to show between 6-8 designs during her featured showings in 2021 and 2022, this year, however, she’s planning a show of 30 looks in what she’s referred to as a “collective effort” between her and her team.
“We’re already talking to the First Nations accessory designers and looking at what we can do with them. Everything that Ngali does, we’re looking at how we can bring in more of our mob, so it won’t just be Ngali. It will be more of our creatives coming together,” she explained.
Australia’s Fashion Week this year will present 45 designers over a five-year program, a slightly more scaled down plan when compared to previous fashion weeks.
Natalie Xenita of global entertainment conglomerate IMG, which has staged Australian fashion week since 2005, said “this schedule was based on feedback from the industry. We’ve been careful to curate the schedule this year so that it’s … manageable, and that each designer that’s showing can get their cut through.”
For the past two years of Australian Fashion Week, IMG didn’t charge designers to participate in the program, a rule that will continue into this year’s showing.
“It’s a really important long-term strategy for us, because the industry is still recovering from the massive impact of the pandemic,” Xenita explained.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.