Indigenous designers share their talents with Belgian fashion students


Students from a leading Belgian fashion school had no idea what they would learn when they were enlisted to walk as runway models for the Indigenous Fashion Show at the Art and History Museum in Brussels.

Learning more than how to walk and modelling, students from the Ursluines Mechelen Fashion School in Mechelen, Belgium were able to see how a runway show looks like from start to finish.

Indigenous delegates and designers Wonnarua woman Amanda Healy and Yolngu woman Liandra Gaykamangu guided students through the ins and outs of preparing for a runway show.

The students, who acted as models, were taken through fittings, dress rehearsals and walkthroughs before the final event.

The school’s fashion director Catherine Van den Bossche said this was a very informative experience for the students.

“It’s very interesting for the students to see this because it really shows them how the designers think it should be shown on the runway,” she said.

“And also how the clothing is styled, so in that sense it’s a very interesting experience for them.”

Ms Van den Bossche said this has also opened up the possibilities to the students of the different avenues a career in fashion could take them.

“Now they have been apart of it so they may be a model or backstage styling a little bit or even do makeup and hair,” she said.

“They have seen the full process so it’s very interesting for them.

“We do it with the school with our own fashion show but it’s different. Now it’s with big brands.”

Gaykamangu of Liandra Swim said she enjoyed this aspect of guiding and teaching students having previously been a high school teacher before turning to fashion.

“I love learning and knowledge and everything that comes with, so I love to be around that and people that love to learn,” she said.

“(The students) were already interested so we have a mutual love for fashion, design and creativity.

“What I found working as a teacher is when you can spark that love of a text or of art, there’s some type of relatability where conversations and things can be brought to life or grow from.”

Gaykamangu said the best part of the experience was being able to impart knowledge about Indigenous Australia to students in Belgium.

“The best student, teacher relationship is when you’re able to really form a great mutual understanding of what it is you’re trying to share,” she said.

“And in that regard it was about the design and our process on how we do that as Indigenous Australians through our culture and how that comes through in fashion.”

Van den Bossche said she hopes this experience will help the students project their own fashion careers depending on what path they want to go down.

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