By NICK PATON
“In the end, we are all guided by our ancestors ... if we surrender ourselves to their guidance, and take a really long hard look inside, and ask ourselves what we want, and who we want to be, then things will just flow from there.”
Ngali designer Denni Francisco
2019 Australian Eco Fashion Week.
NGALI is tailoring 80,000 years of Aboriginal culture by weaving delicate threads of environmental sustainability with the empowered voices of the next generation in their latest collection based on the works of Giji artist Lindsay Malay.
Wiradjuri woman Denni Francisco told the Koori Mail Ngali translates to ‘us’, or ‘we’ in a number of Indigenous languages throughout Australia, and, as founder Ms Francisco said, she felt compelled to create fashion label Ngali as a way to maintain a tight fit with her culture and strengthen the social fabric of her close-knit community.
“Ngali is all about the collective concept, in bringing people together to take part in a collaborative process, which is really important me,” she said.
“I’ve always found it hard to make real connections to culture and country whenever I have lived within the confines and concrete jungle of the city, so I feel really at home whenever I happen to find myself on country, in outer Melbourne.”
Ms Francisco is former owner of the iconic children’s wear label, Billiecart Clothing, and has spent decades building top quality and reliable relationships with her own and other Indigenous communities around Australia.
“Community is everything to me,” Ms Francisco said.
“And so building respectful and meaningful connections with the incredibly talented Aboriginal artists and creatives from my own community, and many remote communities around the nation, is something that just feels natural.”
It’s important to Francisco that Aboriginal talent is honoured through her fashion label, and so she has turned to the creative magic of Giji (Kimberley, WA) artist Lindsay Malay for inspiration.
“Art shouldn’t be something that just simply hangs on a wall,” Ms Francisco said.
“Art should be able to be sold in any shape or form, because art is a lens through which our people see, understand and communicate with others. I want people to know who we are, who we’ve always been ... that there’s more to us than what you see through the lens of 200 years of colonisation."
Lindsay Malay is an emerging artist, and a member of the Warmun Art Centre in Western Australia. Francisco said her collection is really about providing a platform for Lindsay to tell his own story.
“And you know, it always amazes me that there is not more recognition by the general population of Australia of the fact that we are living alongside the oldest continuous culture on earth,” Ms Francisco said.
“I’ve always dreamed of collaborating with Lindsay, and that’s why his art is the focus of, and inspiration behind, my new collection.”
“Incorporating Lindsay’s work into my collection really gives the artist the opportunity to tell their story through my clothing, and for us to tell a shared story together. That's what we are all about at the end of the day, we are all storytellers,” Ms Francisco said.
Indigenous model Laila Morgan wears Ngali featuring Lindsay Malay's Warlawoon & Yulumbu Country artwork.
Ngali burning up the runway at 2019 Melbourne Fashion Week.