The NSW Premier cut a stylish figure at a Fashion Week event in Sydney on Thursday, where she took a front-row seat next to her sister. Gladys Berejiklian’s presence at the Indigenous Fashion Projects show at the Carriageworks arts center in Sydney helped highlight the return to the catwalk for a $27 billion industry that has spent a year languishing in the digital world.
Ms. Berejiklian said she was impressed with the event. “It was wonderful to see so many talented designers at the Indigenous Fashion Projects show, which featured the incredible collections of six First Nations designers,” she told NCA NewsWire. According to Vogue Australia fashion features director Alice Birrell, Ms. Berejiklian was wearing a cerulean blue fluted sleeve dress by Sydney-based designer Karen Gee.
Seated next to her, the Premier’s sister Mary wore an all-black ensemble with boots to match. “The Premier is fond of blue — she was painted in a blue dress for both of her portraits in the Archibald Prize in 2014 and 2018 incidentally — and chose a slightly more lively hue today,” Ms. Birrell said.
“She joined the fashion crowds embracing color this week, which spoke to the optimism and joy at being back together in person and supporting and celebrating our fashion industry, which contributes so much to the economy and the cultural life of the country.” Ms. Birrell said Karen Gee was a sustainably-minded designer who tended to make clothes to order.
The Sydney-based designer was also worn by Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex when she visited Australia in 2018 with Prince Harry. The Berejiklian siblings watched as models walked by wearing creations by designers linked to the Indigenous Fashion Projects, an organization that supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fashion businesses.
Those designers included India, Kirrikin, Liandra Swim, MAARA Collective, Native Swimwear, and Ngali. This year’s Fashion Week was the first one held in person after the coronavirus pandemic forced last year’s event primarily online. On Monday, it kicked off with Welcome to Country and smoking ceremonies to mark National Reconciliation Week, which coincides with the fashion event.
“The strong presence of Indigenous designers at Australian fashion week is a watershed moment, and it’s long overdue,” Ms. Birrell said. “This is the first time in the history of the event that First Nations creatives have held dedicated runways, and coupled with the Welcome to Country at the beginning of the week, it signals a step forward toward meaningful inclusion.
“The talent on show and the pride and emotion tied up in giving a platform to these voices made for an unforgettable moment.” A report commissioned by the Australian Fashion Council released on Monday highlighted the importance of the style industry to the Australian economy. The report by consultancy firm EY found the fashion and textile industry contributed $27.2 billion to the country’s economy, employed 489,000 Australians, and generated $7.2 billion in export value. That’s more than double the export value of wine and beer, the report authors noted.