Linda Jackson wins top prize, eight years after collaborator Jenny Kee
The close-knit nature of the country’s greatest designers is reflected in the interwoven work of the Australian Fashion Laureate 2021 winners. At the top of the chosen family tree is prismatic matriarch Linda Jackson, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the today’s ceremony in Coogee, Sydney.
Follow the branches, most certainly flowery with the waratahs that inspired some of Jackson’s most striking dresses, kept at the Powerhouse Museum, from designers of the year Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales of Romance Was Born. Jackson’s work with Jenny Kee of Sydney’s flagship store in the late ’70s and’ 80s, Flamingo Park, was the starting point for Romance Was Born’s Paris debut in 2018.
The final flower is Grace Lillian Lee, the inaugural recipient of the Carla Zampatti Award for Excellence in Leadership. The Cairns-based indigenous artist, creator and founder of First Nations Fashion + Design, who made his runway debut during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week in June. “I know Grace’s work. The mother of his collaborator Teagan, Sarina Jan, invited me to NAIDOC Fashion Week in 1989. In the beginning, ”Jackson said. “It’s about closing the loop. Seeing young people arrive is overwhelming.
While Melbourne-born Jackson has forged a singular path for decades, working in Paris, Papua New Guinea and Arnhem Land, it’s a rare moment of recognition without Kee by her side on the podium. This time around, Kee, who was named the 2013 fashion winner, stood proudly next to presenting the award.
“It’s amazing that some things all go together like this. Look to the future here today. It means something to see Luke, Anna and Grace win, ”Jackson said.
Founded in 2005, the unbridled creativity of Romance Was Born has drawn fans to Cate Blanchett, and pieces from a collaboration with Jackson found their way into the 2019 Met Gala exhibit. Camp: Notes on Fashion. Sales and Plunkett found their ‘fashion fairy godmothers’ Jackson and Kee on the dance floor during Vogue Australia’s 50th anniversary celebrations at Fox Studios as Akira Isogawa whirled like a nearby dervish.
“Knowing that Jenny had one and seeing Linda eventually win was so emotional,” said Sales.
“She’s always been the calmest one who does her thing and Jenny is more out there,” Plunkett added. “So seeing her present the award to Linda was incredibly powerful. This is the legacy. Linda should have had it a long time ago.
Lee agrees that Jackson’s victory, as well as the introduction of an Indigenous designer award, is long overdue.