Coast mum dreaming of New York Fashion Week
A LANDSBOROUGH designer will switch soccer games and mummy duties for one of the world’s most prestigious fashion events in the world this September.
Natalie Cunningham is not only fulfilling her dreams, she is proudly representing her people as the first indigenous Australian to be invited to showcase designs at New York Fashion Week.
She translates intricate Aboriginal artwork into prints for luxury swim and resort wear through her brand, Emu Designs.
The mother of three says the offer to show off her work at New York Fashion Week was an absolute dream come true.
“I’ve never been to New York before, I just can’t believe it,” she said.
“I’m just pinching myself.”
Mrs Cunningham’s love for fashion began at a young age, when she was sifting through op shops for 1970s fabrics and coming up with her own clothing to go “against the grain” when it came to trends.
For her 18th birthday she said “no thanks” to a plane ticket to Europe from her grandmother and instead asked for an overlocker.
She honed her skills at TAFE and launched Emu Designs in 2009.
The 2013 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Fashion Designer of the Year winner said her father was the influence of her first collection.
From the Biripi and Ngarabal tribes in New South Wales, his artworks were used as prints for her pieces.
The new collection will leverage off artwork from Northern Territory Aboriginal artists about 300km north of Uluru.
Mrs Cunningham said the opportunity to show at New York Fashion Week was not just a dream come true for her and husband Eli, but a true honour to share indigenous art styles with the world.
“I’m very proud to represent Australia with my designs,” Mrs Cunningham said. “Sometimes, sadly, I don’t think Australians appreciate Aboriginal art as much as overseas people do.”
Every piece tells a story and every garment comes with a tag explaining the Dreamtime story.
Although Mrs Cunningham has been invited to showcase her designs, she needs to raise $15,000 to fund her entry fee. She is looking to partner with local businesses to help her achieve her dreams.