PROUD Gomeroi Yinarr Colleen Tighe-Johnson will be the first Indigenous designer to showcase at New York Fashion Week in February.
The born and bred Moree woman was one of 28 designers in the world to be accepted onto the Plitzs runway.
Ms Tighe-Johnson’s unique designs incorporate different Aboriginal artwork as patterns, usually created by Moree artist and cousin Ann Johnson.
She said exposure, making connections and being able to showcase cultural stories and artwork on an international runway were her main goals for the show.
“The runway suits me because the pieces do no have to be in season. I am doing a timeline of my very first screen printed pieces through to my latest designs.
“The music will also be traditional, original and very powerful,” she said.
Ms Tighe-Johnson’s passion for fashion design and her home town go hand-in-hand.
“Everything started in Moree. It’s who I am and where I grew up.
“I started a young women’s leadership program called Miyay Mirrii in Moree, where I was designing clothing for the girls and then I entered the Deadlies (Deadly Awards) three times,” she said.
The Deadlies opened doors for Ms Tighe-Johnson, who then showcased with Indigenous Runway Project in Melbourne.
Since then, she’s featured on a number of runways promoting Aboriginal art and culture, but none as big as New York Fashion Week.
“The picture is much bigger than just me as a designer.
“This is about our culture, keeping it alive and showing it off in a whole new light,” Ms Tighe-Johnson said.
The 60-foot-long and eight-foot-wide runway may seem daunting to many, but the designer is keeping a clear, calm mind as she prepares to fly out on February 13.
“I’ve always had a vision for Fashion Week, but it has come around very quick.
“The Plitzs open for Fashion Week will take place in Madison Square Garden on February 16, but I am just treating it like any runway,” she said.
Explaining her vision, Ms Tighe-Johnson said powerful Indigenous music would be playing over the speakers, setting the scene for the models to hit the runway wearing some of her very first designs.
“The final will be all new work and the crowd will get a sense of, not only how I’ve developed, but where my inspiration comes from.”
Ms Tighe-Johnson said, as always, she’ll be proudly promoting her home town whilst in New York.
“It doesn’t matter what happens in life, where I live or what I do, Moree is home and Moree will always be home.”