INDIGENOUS INSPIRATION: Natalie Cunningham is showing her line, Emu Designs, at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival in Brisbane.
INDIGENOUS INSPIRATION: Natalie Cunningham is showing her line, Emu Designs, at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival in Brisbane. Brett Wortman

Dreaming of a uniquely Aussie label

NATALIE Cunningham was in Paris scoping out plans to expand her indigenous fashion label when she received an unexpected invitation.

Would she like to showcase her clothing line at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival in Brisbane?

It was an offer she was unlikely to refuse.

"It was very exciting. I've always wanted to be at Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival," the Landsborough-based designer said.

"I was on holidays and wanted to look around where I envision the line going.

"I know that Paris is really big on indigenous art, so I can see it going crazy over there."

Natalie's Emu Designs will be one of 10 exhibitions by emerging designers to be showcased at the August festival.

Natalie’s Aboriginal family has helped with her designs.
Natalie’s Aboriginal family has helped with her designs.

The luxury swimwear and resort wear line is known for its Australian indigenous prints, hand embellishments and vibrant colours.

They pay homage to Natalie's Aboriginal family who had a hand in the designs.

The current line features her father's artwork.

"With every garment I sell I tell their stories on the tags, you can read the Dreamtime story with the article of clothing," she said.

"Our culture is so old and our stories need to be out there, I need to tell the world 'look at our art and our stories'."

Natalie has been designing since 2006 and introduced her swimwear collection a year ago.

"My whole philosophy is about the support function we provide to women. After having four kids, I don't have the body a lot of these supermodels who bring out their lines do.

"I wanted to bring a line out for real women with support for their stomachs and breasts.

"The focus is something very Australian and it hasn't been done before."

And it's that edge that attracted the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival to her work.

Festival director Lindsay Bennett said the emerging designers category of the festival would showcase the depth of the local industry.

"Natalie has been designing for some time and been working hard and had tremendous accolades, it's important to be seeing representations from indigenous Australia," he said.

"It's great for raising the profile with Australian fashion with a need to appeal globally."


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