The 2021 NIFA Winners Have Been Announced!

Proudly presented by the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation as part of Indigenous Fashion Projects, the National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA) ceremony was hosted on Tuesday evening, 3 August, by Rachel Hocking at the Darwin Convention Centre. The highly anticipated awards were also broadcast live via NITV’s social media channels, providing a platform to connect the Australian and global fashion community to the world’s oldest living culture.

The NIFA  are supported by the Northern Territory Government via NT Major Events Company, along with a host of industry award sponsors including Australian lifestyle brand, Country Road, RMIT and Darwin Innovation Hub. Celebrating the rich history and diversity of First Nations’ art, design and culture, the NIFA provide industry pathways and actively contribute to the capacity building of the sector.

This year, 31 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and fashion designers were nominated, with winners selected from six unique categories.


And the Winners are:

  • Paul McCann (Melbourne, VIC), for the Cultural Adornment and Wearable Art Award – co-presented with DAAFF
  • Denni Francisco, Ngali (Melbourne, VIC), for the Fashion Design Award – co-presented with Country Road
  • Eunice Napanangka Jack, Ikuntji Artists (Haasts Bluff, NT), for the Textile Design Award – co-presented with RMIT University
  • Anindilyakwa Arts with Dr Aly de Groot and Anna Reynolds (Groote Eylandt, NT), for the Community Collaboration Award, co-presented by Darwin Innovation Hub
  • Mylene Holroyd of Pormpuraaw Art & Culture featuring Simone Arnol designs (Cairns/Pormpuraaw, QLD), for the Environmental and Social Contribution Award – co-presented with Northern Territory Government
  • Bima Wear (Tiwi Islands, NT), for the Special Recognition Award – co-presented with Northern Territory Government

Meet the Award Winners 

Proudly sponsored by DAAFF


Cultural Adornment and Wearable Art Award Winner | PAUL MCCANN

Cultural adornment and wearable art goes deeper than just the decorative, it is a visual vocabulary, enriched with cultural expression. 

Presented by the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation, this Award shines a spotlight on items that are created and worn as expressive pieces of fine art to celebrate diversity and culture.

“I created a gown that showed Australia and the world our sovereignty, strength and resilience in the most beautiful way possible.” – Paul McCann


Proudly sponsored by Country Road

Fashion design award winner | Denni Francisco, Ngali

The Fashion Design Award recognises a commercial fashion label that has produced a minimum of two collections of original design comprising clothing, jewellery or accessories.

This award is proudly presented by Country Road, which will see Ngali benefit from a 12-month mentorship with the iconic Australian fashion lifestyle brand. The tailored program covers areas such as product development, legal, marketing and sustainability, supporting Ngali to further build its business.

Ngali is a quality, sustainable fashion label created by Wiradjuri woman Denni Francisco. The label is world-class, taking Indigenous fashion to an international level with strong cultural expression and commercial capabilities.

Denni will also receive a membership with the Australian Fashion Council.


Proudly sponsored by RMIT University

TEXTILE DESIGN Award Winner | Eunice Napanangka Jack, Ikuntji Artists

Indigenous textile design holds deep meaning and continues to push the boundaries of contemporary First Nations cultures. It is a medium that offers freedom, where the use of the vibrant colours in textile design is represented in new expressions of old stories, which enable artists to stretch their imagination.

Presented by RMIT University, this award celebrates textile designs in a range of forms spanning woven, knitted, printed or dyed constructs.

Internationally renowned artist, Eunice Napanangka Jack is the only living founding member of Ikuntji Artists and has been involved in the art of printing since the early 1990s. She first experimented with printing on t-shirts in 1992 and has since become one of the key textile designers at Ikuntji Artists since 2017. In 2019, Ikuntji Artists proudly released its first textile collection and each design tells a story of people, place and culture.

Proudly sponsored by Darwin Innovation Hub

COMMUNITY COLLABORATION Award Winner | Anindilyakwa Arts with Dr Aly de Groot and Anna Reynolds

When Indigenous and non-Indigenous creatives come together to share histories and ideas through cultural storytelling, their wider communities can be celebrated.

Presented by Darwin Innovation Hub, this award recognises effective and productive relationships that have been cultivated between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the fashion and textile industry.

The Anindilyakwa Arts collective, in particular Maicie Lalara and Annabell Amagula, have collaborated with artists and designers Dr Aly de Groot and Anna Reynolds to present their innovative designs at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair and Country to Couture since 2017. In 2020, they worked with Shonae Hobson and Bendigo Art Gallery to participate in a curated fashion exhibition, which moved to the National Museum Australia. A number of their unique pieces have been nationally acquired.

Environmental and Social Contribution Award winner | Mylene Holroyd of Pormpuraaw Art & Culture featuring Simone Arnol designs

This award celebrates excellence and leadership in the environmental and social space. It is a recognition for the understanding and practice of these concepts in relation to textiles and fashion.

This award celebrates environmental leadership within the textile and fashion industry and is presented by the Northern Territory Government.

Mylene’s designs are a nod to ‘ghost net sculpture,’ which started a decade ago, with Pormpuraaw Art one of the pioneers of the genre. These sculptures focus on utilising recycled materials and used wire and cable found at the local tip and abandoned fish nets washed up on beaches.

Artists from Bima Wear, winners of the Special Recognition NIFA, National Indigenous Fashion Awards 2021, Photo by Dylan Buckee

special recognition Award winner | bima wear

Presented by the Northern Territory Government, this award is for a group, organisation, or individual that has shown exceptional contribution to the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander textiles and fashion. For over half a century, Bima Wear, the Tiwi women’s textile design and manufacturing powerhouse has triumphed, struggled and survived.

Collective and autonomous decision making by Tiwi women and Tiwi cultural practice are the bedrocks of Bima Wear’s success, enabling the enterprise to serve its community while remaining instep with fashion and technology advancements.

Stay Tuned

Congratulations to all of our nominees and of course to the winners. It’s no secret that we have got some talented people out there doing amazing things.

Thank you to all our Industry and Award partners and we look forward to sharing more from Indigenous Fashion Projects soon!

Thank you to our Media Partners, NITV and marie claire!


Image Credits

Paul McCann, courtesy of the designer.

Designer Denni Francisco, Ngali, Indigenous Fashion Projects Runway at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, 2021, Photo by Getty images.

Eunice Napanangka Jack, ‘Kuruyultu’, 2018, Acrylic on Belgian Linen, 121.5 X 137 cm, Photo by Christian Koch, Courtesy Ikuntji Artists.

Ladies bush dyeing at the beach, 2021, photo courtesy of Anindilyakwa Arts.

Mylene Holroyd, Simone Arnol and Christine Holroyd, Pormpuraaw Art and Cultural Centre, 2020, photo courtesy of Simone Arnol.

Artists from Bima Wear, winners of the Special Recognition NIFA, National Indigenous Fashion Awards 2021, Photo by Dylan Buckee