Indigenous fashion: Duo draws on connections to country for major show

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Inside a cramped loungeroom in suburban Cairns, two women are nervously preparing for their first major fashion shows.

The first is just days away at the prestigious Melbourne Fashion Week.

They will then go on to represent Australia at the World Indigenous Fashion Week in the Seychelles in October.

Designer Christy Van Der Hayden said they hoped to share the stories of Indigenous culture with the rest of the world.

“I think it’s an important time for Indigenous cultures in general to have recognition in their artworks and in their storytelling,” she said.

“Fashion has just become another medium to present that — and it’s actually going to be on a global level available for everyone to see.”

Christy Van Der Hayden dressing model Makana Tutu.PHOTO: Christy Van Der Hayden dressing model Makana Tutu. (ABC News: Allyson Horn)

Their label, Fusing Sands, combines designs from the Central Desert in the Northern Territory with artwork from the Torres Strait.

“The inspiration comes from connections to that country,” co-designer Francoise Lane said.

“I have this strong, just love of saltwater, anything related to saltwater, the reef.

“There’s so much work that goes into this and our hearts are poured into our work and we’re really passionate about what we’re producing.”

Francoise Lane at her sewing machine.PHOTO: Francoise Lane at her sewing machine. (ABC News: Allyson Horn)

Each piece is sewn by hand and takes several weeks to complete.

Despite working together for just five months, Melbourne Fashion Week will be the duo’s national debut.

“I am surprised when I look back and go, it was only March,” Ms Van Der Hayden said.

“But at the same time it feels like it’s the right path and the right time.”

While it is not yet a commercial project, the pair plan to design and market the clothes for an international fashion audience.

Pieces from the Fusing Sands label.PHOTO: Pieces from the Fusing Sands label. (ABC News: Allyson Horn)
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