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Inside the bustling world of backstage fashion at Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair

Shahna Smith -

The artistic frenzy behind runway glam where chaos is spread in all the right places, creates a bustling world of backstage fashion at Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair.

Here, a whirlwind of activity takes place as make-up brushes paint dreams, hairdryers hum melodies and curling irons spin tales of style.

It's the chaotic symphony that sets the stage for runway brilliance.

DAAF team looking at the final model selection (Image: Michael Jalaru)

Model backstage overlooking final model selection board. (Image: Michael Jalaru)

Speaking to the director of the hair and makeup department, Style Up dived deeper into the artists who turn faces into living canvases and hairstylists who shape locks into textured masterpieces.

"We always try to keep everything natural. It is about the clothes, it is not about the hair and makeup" said NK Darwin Hair and Makeup's Kat Lee, as she curls another strand.

Ms Lee has directed and assisted with the beauty department of Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair for seven years.

DAAF team assisting with models fitting backstage (Image: Michael Jalaru)

Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair team members assisting a model with a dress fitting. (Image: Michael Jalaru)

She said the event has experienced substantial growth in her time.

"It's so great and exciting. It's great to see the models come back feeling more comfortable and confident," Ms Lee said.

"It's not something that we have a lot of in Darwin so it's great that we have this experience to bring the girls, the stylists and the crew back here to be trained and become really proud of who they are as First Nations women."

The hair and beauty team preparing models for the Country to Couture Runway 2023 (Image: Michael Jalaru)

The hair team preparing models for Country to Couture runway 2023. (Image: Michael Jalaru)

Turning to another artist in the team, Style Up hears of how the experts behind the curtain define a model's natural features, and the best tips and tricks for this to be accomplished.

"Always look at the model's face beforehand and decide what their best features are. Those are the ones I bring forward. This could be the eyes, lips or cheeks," said La Brows Lashes and Beauty's Emily Chambers.

"I heavily focus on skin as it is important especially for the runway. Skin is everything.

Lucas Schober during test photos backstage. (Image: Marley Morgan)

"Skincare is key. I love to use Bobbi Brown as my base followed by a light coverage foundation. My current favourite is Charlotte Tilbury to achieve flawless skin."

The sound of coat hangers hitting the metal clothes racks continues, with a crowd murmur as you slowly make your way through the world of backstage.

But wait, there's more. Amidst the chaos, a symphony of creativity emerges. Designers are also working in harmony to bring a vision to life.

Make Up artists kit backstage at Country to Couture 2023. (Image: Phoebe Blogg/Style Up)

The runway becomes a canvas, and each model a brushstroke to telling a story that defies ordinary.

Yapa Mali designer Maddy Hodgetts explained the emotions of a designer backstage.

"I feel so excited to see the garments come together with each individual look," Ms Hodgetts said.

Models preparing for the runway. (Image: Michael Jalaru)

Proud Aboriginal Tiwi model, Cassie Puruntatameri, also joined the shell team to assist with preparation for the show, explaining from both her modelling eye and coordinators view.

"Behind the scenes there is a lot involved with 11 designers per show. Last week, we did castings and fittings for the models," Ms Puruntatameri said.

Cassie Puruntatameri wears, 'lkuntji Collection' by Ikuntji Artists. (Image: Marley Morgan)

"I am really excited and I'm probably going to be emotional for the finale."

As the final model struts, the backstage frenzy subsides, leaving a lingering scent of accomplishment.

DAAF team watching Country to Couture runway from backstage (Image: Michael Jalaru)

The DAAF team watching Country to Couture runway from backstage. (Image: Michael Jalaru)

Tools of the trade, from makeup brushes to hairdryers have done their dance, creating a masterpiece of style.

It's the backstage buzz that sets the tone for the runway's enchanting tale and a key component to ensuring the models walk-with-confidence.

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