At the First Nations Fashion + Design Show at Australian Fashion Week earlier this month, the evocative designs of the hugely gifted Lillardia Briggs-Housten for Ngarru Miimi caused the heads of a large crowd of fashionistas to explode! We noticed her shop is close to being sold out but we’re telling you about her anyway so that you can start watching and waiting for her to restock. The ‘coming soon’ tags on some of the beautiful designs on her website give us excited hope. She’s a formidable talent and we’re just as little bit awestruck.
Lillardia Briggs-Houston is the founder, artist & designer at Ngarru Miimi, her slow ethical fashion label ‘handprinted, designed and constructed on unceded Wiradjuri country’. She describes herself as ‘a Wiradjuri Yorta Yorta Gangulu sister, mother and granddaughter’ and bases her creative business out of Wiradjuri Country in the NSW Southern Highlands. Everything is produced there exclusively to pay homage to her ancestors and respect cultural integrity.
Meaning Honey Sister, Ngarru Miimi was established to explore culture, self-determination and sovereignty through fashion and textiles, while showcasing the strength in identity, pride in culture and the resilience of Aboriginal Peoples.
Lillardia aims to create change by using fashion and textiles to challenge perspectives of Aboriginal peoples and culture. She says that behind her beautiful artwork, textiles and designs there are thousands of years of culture and kinship representing the true history of the many different nations across these lands ‘a history that has continually been pushed aside and hidden.
Aboriginal fashion and textiles are a catalyst for social change and a conversation starter.’
Designs at Ngarru Miimi include ‘ready to wear’ – the tie shoulder silk cami is to die for – and screen-printed fabrics in the most luminous, jewel-like hues and patterns, each holding the stories of Lillardia’s cultural and familial history.
Fabrics are created using hand carved blocks for small hand printing and then transferred onto screens for larger yardage work (a process that can take days to complete). On some occasions, Lilliardia’s artwork is hand painted onto silk screens for larger batch printing.
Everything is hand printed in her studio and the company prides itself on being in control of the most ethical and sustainable textile processes ‘that provides Indigenous led self-determination, autonomy and protection of culture and country.’ Only natural fibres from reputable sources are used along with water-based inks.
Through each sustainable and ethical garment, Lillardia respectfully highlights the strength, pride and connection that Aboriginal people feel as they collectively showcase Aboriginal culture ‘as a daily reminder that we are, and always will, stand strong on our traditional lands’.
Pieces from Lillardia’s show are also included in the upcoming exhibition Eucalyptusdom at the Powerhouse Museum as she was one of the designers commissioned by the Centre For Fashion for this project.
Learn more about this beautiful work and story here