Case Studies Lyllardya Houston, Ngarru Miimi Spring Fashion Parade | RAF Case Study (2021)


A textile design studio space was set up by Lyllardya Houston to create a couture fashion range...

A textile design studio space was set up by Lyllardya Houston to create a couture fashion range under her First Nations ethical fashion label Ngarru Miimi. The collection was inspired by Lyllardya’s cultural heritage that expresses original designs in printing, painting, jewellery and accessories.

Originally, the collection was to be presented at the Ngarru Miimi Spring Fashion Parade 2021 that was planned as a streamed digital event in Narrungdera On Country. However, Covid-19 lockdowns, community vulnerability risks and vaccine restrictions impacted the outcome of having either a live or digitally streamed event.

Lyllardya Houston is a Project Grant recipient via the Regional Arts Fund as managed by Regional Arts NSW.

Through this period Lyllardya worked on the couture collection with the support of the project funding. She was then invited to be part of both the National Indigenous Fashion Awards and Australian Fashion Week 2021. This high-profile showcasing garnered a major audience both live and digitally, and was quickly followed by national press coverage of both Lyllardya and her collection, leading to the collection being sold out. The funding supported a major step in Lyllardya’s couture fashion business development that she feels will lead to its sustainability in the future.

With the collection being showcased at National Indigenous Fashion Awards and Australian Fashion Week and subsequently attracting the national coverage that it did, created interest in Narrungdera (Narrandera) as a community in regional NSW.

When Covid restrictions did lift, tourism was high and a large amount of community support followed for Lyllardya to continue her work on country and further build her First Nations ethical business. The vision is for it to grow so it is able to employ First Nations members of the community in sustainable cultural professions. The entire 2021 collection was sold. Lyllardya was able to reinvest these funds into the design of the next collection. Although there is still a need to seek support for her own artist fees in this next phase, the fashion label has been able to strengthen its online presence and has clients nationally.

Impacts

The benefits of the Regional Arts Fund supporting the production of the 2021 collection were exponential in both the short and long term, allowing Lyllardya to have the time to be a full-time arts practitioner. This is critical in her chosen profession as an artist and maker.

This project was completed throughout the high-impact period of Covid-19 and went from one that had the initial idea to create a collection of works that were planned to be showcased to the First Nations community. Covid-19 impacted this as a possibility. Instead, this outcome was pivoted to having the collection showcased nationwide. In 2022, Lyllardya Briggs-Houston will be a featured artist at the Narrungdera Earth Festival in her own community. She is programmed to run a textile design workshop, showcase her work, and give an artist talk. Lyllardya continues to be a progressive role model and public figure for her ethical First Nations fashion work that promotes the Australian First Nations cultural significance.

Applicant location: Narrandera NSW

Project location: Narrandera NSW

Amount of RAF Support: $26,060

Leveraged income: $13,810

Total project cost: $39,870

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Echidna Necklace from Ngarru Miimi. Image credit: Courtesy Western Riverina Arts