Ngali <em>Dumba coat and Yiramir dress</em> 2022, from the <em>Nginha</em> collection, autumn–winter 2022; screenprinted cotton, screenprinted silk. Purchased, NGV Supporters of Fashion and Textiles, 2022<br/>
© Ngali and Lindsay Malay. Photo: Narelle Wilson / NGV


(est. 2018, Melbourne)

Ngali is a sustainable womenswear label that collaborates with First Nations artists to transpose artworks onto premium-quality clothing and collectables. Founded by Wiradjuri fashion entrepreneur Denni Francisco, Ngali translates to ‘we’ or ‘us’ in several Aboriginal languages. The name speaks to the brand’s ethos. Guided by Blak ethics, Ngali strives to create meaningful partnerships, promote understanding and pave the way for other First Nations creatives.

For Melbourne Now, Ngali presents two outfits from recent seasons. The Dumba quilted coat and Yiramir dress come from the autumn–winter 2022 collection Nginha, a Wiradjuri word meaning ‘here’ or ‘this’, while the Gifting of Country dress and scarf are from the Birrang collection, resort 2022. Nginha evolved during a time when the world slowed down and draws inspiration from calmness and open spaces. Like all Ngali’s designs, the collection uses prints to share stories of First Nations creativity and culture, acknowledging that we are here today because of the footsteps laid down by ancestors. ‘Art is a lens through which our people see, understand and communicate with others’, explains Francisco. ‘We want more people around the globe to know who we are, who we’ve always been.’ These pieces incorporate artworks from emerging Giji artist Lindsay Malay, developed in collaboration with the Warmun Art Centre in the Kimberley region. Malay uses art to connect to his ancestors and tell the story of Warlawoon Country inherited from his grandfather; the family regained traditional ownership of these lands in 2010. Ngali works closely with Malay to respectfully translate his artworks into textiles, using gestural repeated motifs, often on luxurious silks that drape over the body and allow the print predominance.

Ngali’s founder won the Fashion Designer Award at the National Indigenous Fashion Awards in 2021 and 2022. The label has appeared on local runways at Melbourne Fashion Festival, Melbourne Fashion Week, Eco Fashion Week Australia, Indigenous Fashion Week and the Darwin Art Fair, and presented at Milan Fashion Week in 2022. Francisco has over twenty-five years’ experience in the fashion industry, working in design and director roles for notable fashion houses in Australia and the United States, and starting her first children’s fashion label, Billiecart Clothing, in the 1990s.