The 2022 NIFA Winners Have Been Announced!

Proudly presented by the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation as part of Indigenous Fashion Projects, meet the winners of the National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA) 2022!

The NIFA 2022 ceremony took place this Wednesday evening, 3 August, under the stars on Larrakia Country at the Deckchair Cinema in Darwin. The sold out event was hosted by Rachael Hocking, with special guest, the Honourable Chansey Paech, MLA, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage. Guests were treated to a performance from Lena Kellie and band, and a Welcome to Country from Aunty Bilawara Lee. 

We were once again thrilled to come together as a community and celebrate the excellence and innovation of Australia’s First Nations peoples in fashion and textiles.

A big thank you to all who attended, supported and helped make the night possible! Thank you to our event sponsor and award partner the Northern Territory Government, and to each of our other award partners: Canberra Centre, KIN Fashion, RMIT and Country Road. Thank you to our media partners marie claire and NITV, to Industry partners Darwin Festival.Thank you to our panel of esteemed judges: Perina Drummond at Jira Models, Yatu Widders-Hunt at Cox Inall Ridgeway, Prue-ellen Thomas at the Australian Fashion Council, and Jacklyn Rivera at Country Road.

Lastly, a very special mention and congratulations to each of this year’s outstanding nominees.

And the Winners are:

  • Esther Yarllarlla, Bábbarra Women’s Centre – Traditional Adornment Award, supported by Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation
  • Mimili Maku Arts, Linda Puna x Unreal Fur – Community Collaboration Award, supported by Canberra Centre
  • Philomena Yeatman, Yarrabah Arts & Cultural Precinct – Textile Design Award, supported by RMIT
  • Lillardia Briggs-Houston, Ngarru Miimi – Wearable Art Award, supported by the Northern Territory Government
  • Denni Francisco, Ngali – Fashion Designer Award, supported by Country Road
  • Laura Thompson, Clothing The Gaps – Business Achievement Award, supported by KIN Fashion 
  • Highly Commended: Bábbarra Women’s Centre, Bábbarra Designs, Nominee for the Business Achievement Award

Meet the Award Winners 

Proudly sponsored by DAAF Foundation



Recipient of the Traditional Adornment Award, supported by Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation

The Award

For tens of thousands of years First Nations Peoples from around the continent have celebrated their cultures through traditional dress. This Award shines a spotlight on the design of these items. Sponsored by the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation, Esther will receive support for a cultural exchange opportunity of her choosing, to the value of two thousand five hundred dollars.

Learn More

Esther is a Kunibidji artist living in Maningrida with a deep knowledge of traditional weaving and knotting. Through her art practice she contributes to the recognition and preservation of her culture. Her woven works are high in demand, cherished for their durability and fine style, with pieces known to sell out at Maningrida Arts and Culture!

Esther’s award winning mókko piece was commissioned by Bábbarra Women’s Centre. Made for women, historically mókko are worn as day wear with an opening at the back. Her other works include knotted string bags – barlangúnngun; and are made from nja-djéngka fibre harvested from bayan trees growing beside her home in Maningrida. Esther learned these rolling and knotting techniques from traditional owner, Joy Garlbin’s father (dec).



Proudly sponsored by Canberra Centre

Mimili Maku Arts, Linda Puna x Unreal Fur

Recipient of the Community Collaboration Award, supported by Canberra Centre

The Award

This award recognises strong, two-way relationships between First Nations communities and the textile and fashion industry. Where social and economic benefits flow to communities, and where First Nations peoples’ agency in the collaboration process is front and centre. Linda Puna of Mimili Maku Arts and collaborators Unreal Fur will receive five thousand dollars from Canberra Centre!

Learn More

The Linda Puna x Unreal Fur capsule collection of outerwear was 18 months in the making! This project was a new kind of collaboration for all parties involved, and with the support of Copyright Agency they took their time to slowly develop and maintain best practice Indigenous agency and leadership each step of the way. Each element of the collection was developed in consultation with the Art Centre, artist and Unreal Fur. From the swing tags, to fabric samples and of course the final designs, ensuring that Linda’s artwork translated appropriately to the fabric prints.

As part of the project, Linda directed a fashion shoot on Country supporting young women in Mimili Community to develop skills in photography and videography and engaging the next generation of youth with the Art Centre. Throughout this project Linda has been recognised as the cultural and artistic leader she is. With the support from her Art Centre, community and family, Linda was able to launch the collection as part of her first solo exhibition in Melbourne at Alcaston Gallery, which was a big celebration of her ongoing resilience and leadership both in the arts and disability advocacy.

Proudly sponsored by RMIT University

Philomena Yeatman, Yarrabah Arts & Cultural Precinct

Recipient of the Textile Design Award, supported by RMIT

The Award

In recognition of Philomena’s masterful textile work and powerful storytelling, the artist will receive a workshop with RMIT’s textile design department!

Learn More

Artist Philomena Yeatman shaped her career in Yarrabah. Here, the Yarrabah Arts and Cultural Precinct showcases culture, history and identity through hand-crafted pottery, painting, woven basket and textiles.

A renowned master weaver, Philomena fuses traditional dyed pandanus and cabbage palm fibres with modern materials. Her textile work is a prime example of knowledge transfer, as she pulls inspiration from her Old Peoples’ stories and local history. Through her textiles, she talks about family history and brings traditional stories to life.

The Yarrabah artist has mastered textile techniques, a powerful medium that she uses to storytell, and that is being recognised nationally. Her works appear in many collections, including the Queensland Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Australia – “Belongings”.

Proudly sponsored by the Northern Territory Government

Lillardia Briggs-Houston, Ngarru Miimi

Recipient of the Wearable Art Award, supported by the Northern Territory Government

The Award

The Wearable Art Award celebrates design, artistry, construction, wearability and cultural expression. In recognition of Lillardia’s work, the artist will receive five thousand dollars from the Northern Territory Government.

Learn More

Lillardia Briggs-Houston is a textile and fashion designer whose practice began at the early age of 10, taught by her maternal grandmother on her Country in Narrungdera, Wiradjuri Country NSW. Lillardia’s prints and garments are all created to tell a story or relive a memory from her upbringing.

Lillardia’s award winning garment was hand printed, hand painted and sewn on Country. Every detail is meticulously created, with the hand painted merino wool knit jumpsuit embellished with 2 metre reeds, the skirt hand dyed and printed. A printed head veil in the same material as the skirt is matched with collected bottlebrush seed earrings.



Proudly sponsored by Country Road

Denni Francisco, Ngali

 Recipient of the Fashion Designer Award, supported by Country Road

The Award

Recognising original fashion apparel with creative and commercial excellence, the award presented by Country Road will see Ngali benefit from a continued 12 month business mentorship with the iconic Australian fashion lifestyle brand, including travel expenses!

Learn More

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.

Ngali collections evolve through the lens of Yindayamarra – fashion that shows respect, is polite, considered, gentle to Country and shows honour to the cross Country collaborations they enjoy with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives.

No stranger to the NIFA, this is Denni’s second year as the recipient of the Fashion Designer Award, recognised for her continued business development and contribution to elevating the Indigenous fashion sector.


Proudly sponsored by KIN Fashion, Kinaway Chamber of Commerce

Laura Thompson, Clothing The Gaps

Recipient of the Business Achievement Award, supported by KIN Fashion

The Award

The Business Achievement Award recognises Laura Thompson’s leadership with Clothing The Gaps, a First Nations-led business, showing both creative and commercial success in textiles and fashion, and positively impacting the Indigenous fashion sector. Clothing The Gaps will receive business support via the Kinaway Chamber of Commerce “Kin Fashion” program and two-thousand dollars cash.

Learn More

Laura Thompson, co-founder of Clothing the Gaps (CGT), is the recipient of this year’s Business Achievement Award, recognising CTG’s business innovation and community leadership through fashion!

Since launching less than 3 years ago, the business has gone from strength to strength, making key contributions to the sector, educating and advocating through fashion. More than a fashion brand, CGT has built a community and a platform that elevates First Peoples voices and causes.

CGT have a devoted following, and have made waves across social media and mainstream media with an activated role model campaign and celebrity advocacy. Their successful Free the Flag campaign (Legal victory 2022) made a critical contribution in raising awareness and engaging the broader community. Their ‘Shades of deadly’’ campaign promoted diversity and inclusion of mob skin tones – and at any rally for Invasion Day, you will see CTG gear everywhere!

When it comes to operations, CGT employs over 24 First Nations people in their team, the majority of which are youth 12-24. Environmental impact is a big focus to CTG with local and ethical products a non-negotiable.

Clothing the Gaps influence and impact is undeniable, uniting people through fashion and causes, so First Nations people and communities may thrive.


Proudly sponsored by KIN Fashion, Kinaway Chamber of Commerce

Bábbarra Women’s Centre, Bábbarra Designs

Highly Commended, Nominated for the  Business Achievement Award, supported by KIN Fashion

The Award

This year’s judging panel made a special note of Bábbarra Women’s Centre for Bábbarra Designs, Highly Commended in the Business Achievement category for their 39 year legacy and contribution to Indigenous textiles, fashion and homewares design!

Learn More

Celebrating a legacy and contribution to Indigenous textiles, fashion and homewares design – 2023 will mark Babbarra Women’s Centre’s 40 year anniversary!

Initially established as a women’s refuge in 1983, Bábbarra Women’s Centre is now an established Art Centre with a strong focus on professional development for artists and producing high end textiles. Bábbarra Designs, is one of Australia’s oldest continuously operating Indigenous textile enterprises beginning with etching, lithography and screen-printing in the 1990’s through a series of workshops run jointly with Bobbie Rueben and Maningrida Arts and Culture.Today, the studio works with lino block printing, screen printing, bush dye and drawing. The bespoke textiles are in the collections of major institutions across Australia and exported worldwide.

The business demonstrates innovation through its exploration of licensing – pioneering significant returns for artists through its Kip & Co collaboration in 2020. Through its online presence and strong follower audience the brand has elevated. In 2019 a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign saw 4 artists travel and exhibit in Paris.

Babbarra Designs at its core is a social enterprise, generating income for around 50 women in Maningrida community. The ancestral stories featured in Babbarra designs are passed down through the women who are the cultural custodians that keep Babbarra Designs going. Together they protect and preserve the history of their business, building a strong foundation for future designs and collaboration.

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

1) Esther Yarllarlla, 2022, photo by Jessica Stalenberg, Courtesy of Babbarra Women’s Centre. 2) Linda Puna, at her studio at Mimili Maku Arts, photo by Meg Hansen. 3) Philomena Yeatman from Yarrabah Arts & Cultural Precinct, photo by Bernard Singleton. 4) Lillardia Briggs-Houston, on Narrungdera, Wiradjuri Country, photo courtesy of Lillardia Briggs-Houston. 5) Ngali designer Denni Francisco, Indigenous Fashion Projects Runway at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2022, Photo by Angela Arlow. 6) Laura Thompson, Clothing the Gaps. Photo courtesy of Clothing the Gaps. 7) Bush Trip with Artists from Babbarra Designs – Rayleen, Deborah, Jocelyn, Jennifer, Janet, Elizabeth, Jess, Rosie, Belinda – 2021, photo courtesy of Babbarra Women’s Centre.