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Wiradjuri TAFE graduate Renee Henderson to showcase at Australian Fashion Week

Phoebe Blogg -

Lychee Alkira founder and TAFE NSW graduate Renee Henderson is set to showcase her new collection at this year's Australian Fashion Week.

Set to hit The Innovators runway on Tuesday, the proud Wiradjuri designer will present her work alongside some of the industry's biggest names.

Having previously featured on the Melbourne Fashion Festival's Mob In Fashion show earlier this year, Henderson's label Lychee Alkira is already carving out a place in the industry spotlight.

The young designer's creative aesthetic is influenced by Aboriginal art and storytelling, which she conveys through rich prints and sleek lines that honour and celebrate the world's oldest living culture.

Henderson said the industry exposure and connections she has made have been "instrumental" to her success.

"Mob In Fashion, a creative agency, offered me a place on their runway for emerging designers at Melbourne Fashion Festival shortly after I invited them to see my collection at TAFE NSW's graduate runway show in November 2023," she said.

"In developing my design aesthetic, I set out to work with fellow Aboriginal creatives and collaborated with Victorian-based Gunditjmara artist Bayley Mifsud, Merindah-Gunya.

"Working with like-minded artists in this space is so rewarding. I look forward to continuing to grow my brand."

Lychee Alkira designer Renee Henderson. (Image: supplied)

When it comes to how Henderson found her passion for fashion, the designer said it was her grandma's career as a seamstress that led to her intrigue in design and further pursuing and completing a design course at TAFE.

"My great grandma was a seamstress, so fashion design runs in my blood," she said.

"I started out studying business at university but during my holidays, I studied several short courses at TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio and chose to follow my passion, enrolling in the Bachelor of Fashion Design."

A model wearing Lychee Alkira. (Image: supplied)

Selected as one of the four graduates from the TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio's Bachelor of Fashion Design program to showcase their collection at The Innovators show at Australian Fashion Week, Henderson is thrilled to be provided this opportunity and present on such a prestigious runway.

"It's been an incredible experience and it's amazing to now be showing at Australian Fashion Week," she said.

The Innovators runway serves as a platform for emerging TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio graduates to exhibit their collections to international and national industry professionals, stylists, editors, and buyers.

A model wearing Lychee Alkira. (Image: supplied)

Established in 1955, TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio has been at the forefront of fashion education, boasting alumni including Dion Lee, Zimmermann, and Akira.

Entry to the Fashion Design Studio is also highly competitive with places offered based on a strict criteria and selection process. Following graduation, a select number of students are invited to showcase their collections at Australian Fashion Week. 

Head teacher Andrea Cainero, who has been teaching at TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio for the past 20 years, said Henderson's creativity, innovation, and commitment is to be commended.

"The TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio team are thrilled Renee's label Lychee Alkira is already gaining exposure and recognition," she said.

"We're focused on equipping students with the hands-on practical training they'll need in a fashion industry focused on sustainability and digitalisation.

"Renee is a wonderful example of this as she skilfully blends traditional Indigenous techniques with cutting-edge production methods to create stunning designs inspired by Aboriginal art and culture."

A model wearing Lychee Alkira. (Image: supplied)

Embodying the joy of connection and belonging, signifying both a "gift for a joyful life" and a "bright and sunny" spirit, Lychee Alkira represents the sweetness and allure of the Lychee woman, celebrating the fusion of Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures.

Lychee Alkira's vision revolves around collaboration as the ultimate form of respect, partnering with Indigenous artists, young and old, to create exclusive, contemporary designs inspired by Aboriginal art and culture.

Merging traditional Indigenous techniques with cutting-edge production methods, hype surrounding Henderson's AFW debut is only building.

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