SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Applause erupted inside the Harbourside Room at the Museum of Contemporary Arts this afternoon as Camilla Freeman-Topper and Marc Freeman of Camilla & Marc became the proud recipients of the Designer of The Year award at the 15th Australian Fashion Laureate.
“Looking around the room with so many friends, colleagues, it’s a real honour to be standing here today,” Freeman told the room. “There’s so many great brands that have been nominated and this is a testament to the strength of the local industry that we’re so lucky to have grown up within. This award feels extra special as next year we’ll be celebrating out 20-year anniversary.” Camilla & Marc beat out Edwina Forest and Adrian Norris of Aje, Rachel Gilbert and Christopher Esber.
Australian artist Ken Done AM took home the Australian Fashion Laureate for Lifetime Achievement award.
“It is a great honour to be here, but I’m not humbled,” he said smiling, the room breaking into laughter. “I’m 82, I’ve been working really hard for a long time and the first things you saw of mine were in 1980. They were simple t-shirts with drawings, a drawing about what an amazing city this is.”
After a couple of minutes – where he thanked Romance Was Born’s Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales for “the marriage of a lifetime” – Done’s wife joined him with a gentle nudge to tell the audience that in lieu of being “humbled”, her husband was indeed “grateful.”
The Emerging Designer Of The Year award went to Lesleigh Jermanus of Alémais.
“I’m a little bit shocked,” she began. “I’d like to recognise my fellow nominees Jordan [Dalah], Jordan [Gogos] and Alix Higgins. You all blow me away with your creativity and the future of fashion looks great with you guys and I hope that we can all continue to collaborate and inspire each other.”
There were near tears from a lot of guests as a very down to earth Laura Thompson of Clothing The Gaps took home Indigenous Designer Of The Year.
“What an absolute honour. To be in the Indigenous fashion space where we have mob at the heart but also have the support from out elders is really special,” she said. “Clothing The Gaps was part of the First Nations Fashion Design runway [at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week]. It was our first runway! I learnt so much! I’m not sure I liked Fashion Week when I first started but at the end, I saw the opportunity. And the opportunity was not about the clothes but the statement we can make to the world about the change we want to see.”
The lovely Rebecca Vallance took home the People’s Choice Award. “We have an amazing Australian fashion industry and I’m honoured to be aligned with each and every one you,” she said. “Over 12 years ago, when I started Rebecca Vallance, I was living in London and I would never would have dreamt that I would be standing here in a room as the recipient of a prestigious Fashion Laureate award: the People’s Choice. I’m truly humbled by this and I really mean that.”
Sarah Munro and Robert Sebastian Grynkofki of Sarah and Sebastian beat out Bianca Spender, Kit Willow of KITX, and Matt Jenson of M.J. Bale to win the all-important Sustainable Innovation Of The Year award.
“Sustainability is a journey. One that should never end,” Grynkofki told the room. “There should always be continual improvement in innovation in this space. What is particularly important is how you engage others around you; your team, your partners, your stakeholders, and bring them on the journey with you.”
The Chief Executive Officer at the Australian Fashion Council Leila Naja Hibri was awarded the Carla Zampatti Award for Excellence in Leadership. As she was unable to make it, Kellie Hush accepted the award on behalf of her.
“I feel incredibly humbled because this Excellence In Leadership Award is attached to a formidable woman and leader, Carla Zampatti,” read Hush. “The staying power of her effortless style, her dynamism, her undeniable business and creative talents are legendary. All this coupled with a fierce determination to advancing gender equality and advocating for the Australian fashion industry made Carla Zampatti such an inspirational leader to so many in our industry and beyond.”
The list of winners are below:
Australian Fashion Laureate for Lifetime Achievement
Designer of the Year, presented by BTC Markets
Adrian Norris and Edwina Forest, Aje
WINNER: Camilla Freeman-Topper and Marc Freeman, CAMILLA AND MARC
Emerging Designer of the Year, presented by LG
Jordan Gogos, Iordanes Spyridon Gogos
WINNER: Lesleigh Jermanus, ALÉMAIS
Indigenous Designer of the Year, presented by Redken
Denni Francisco, Ngali
WINNER: Laura Thompson, Clothing The Gaps
TJ Cowlishaw, AARLI
Liandra Gaykamangu, Liandra Swim
Sustainable Innovation of the Year, presented by DHL
Kit Willow, KITX
Matt Jenson, M.J. Bale
WINNER: Sarah Munro and Robert Sebastian Grynkofki, Sarah and Sebastian
Carla Zampatti Award for Excellence In Leadership, presented by Porsche
Leila Naja Hibri
People’s Choice, presented by Afterpay