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The Indigenous designer behind that Jordan Gogos x Akira Isogawa runway look

Emma Ruben -

It was a collaboration that had the fashion world waiting on its heels.

But behind the scenes, designer Jordan Gogos left Afterpay Australian Fashion Week (AAFW) in 2022 feeling burnt out.

It was only design and creative icon Akira Isogawa who pulled him out of his funk and helped him come back to AAFW for a third year.

And thus the magnificent Iordanes Spyridon Gogos x Akira Isogawa show was born.

And while Isogawa was his main collaborator, Gogos continued to work with a bunch of different designers and creatives on different looks.

For one design, Gogos turned to Tiwi designer, pattern maker and graphic designer Clair Parker, who designs under the label Clair Helen, with whom he had previously collaborated in 2022.

In turn, the piece they created was a marriage of wispy elegance and elaborate avant-garde.

Parker and Gogos's working relationship goes back to the First Nations Fashion + Design (FNFD) runway during AAFW 2022.

"FNFD paired two designers that had similar values...so (Gogos) was my mentor as well as my collaborator," Parker said.

"I make a lot of crazy stuff out of scuba pieces with wool and yarn embroidered onto them. I also added some tulle to it and I was just in love with the texture.

"And so Jordan had a similar situation where he studied in Parsons in New York and all of the students there would leave their old kind of paints and fabrics and so he would collect it and start making these wearable art pieces.

"So we had very similar values and they did really well pairing us together."

Gogos and Parker's collaborative piece (left). (Image: Hector Clark Harper's Bazaar)

Gogos and Parker's collaborative piece (left). (Image: Hector Clark Harper's Bazaar)

In 2023 Parker is working with choreographers at Bangarra Dance Clan as a designer to put together some costumes.

Finding herself back in Eora (Sydney) she and Gogos had a coffee together where he asked her to collaborate with him once again on his newest collection.

After speaking, Gogos and Parker decided on a lightweight fabric and immediately she was inspired by trips she would take in planes to go see family on other islands.

"When he showed me the fabric...I was like oh wow this fabric is perfect," Parker said.

"While I looked at it, it reminded me of when I flew in the planes and so that's when I started painting the terrains as if I was flying over the land.

"I just kept thinking about all the textures and so that's where you see all the lines and strokes and some of the dots that's kind of emphasising some of the land and textures."

However, the garment was not finished yet. The voluminous and sculptural element of the gown was brought in by Isogawa.

Parker said after seeing this fabric Isogawa already had a vision.

Gogos and Parker's collaborative piece during 2023 AAFW. (Image: Annemieke Tierney)

Gogos and Parker's collaborative piece during 2023 AAFW. (Image: Annemieke Tierney)

"Akira said I can see me making this 3D by doing the origami pieces," she said.

"That's a signature to his look and what he does so that's how it came about with the 3D element of it."

And the finished product left Parker "shaking". For her it was a moving piece of cross-cultural collaboration and she loved it.

While her collaborative piece has only just hit the runway, Parker has begun working on a bold, bright ready-to-wear collection of her own which will be released at the end of the year.

"There's a new collection coming out with some of the crazy prints that I do," she said.

"And potentially some tees with a bit of embroidery and hand-painted pieces.

"I've spent so much time working for other people, it's time to pull back a bit and start to launch a new collection that I can hopefully spend more time on."

Gogos and Parker's collaborative piece during 2023 AAFW. (Image: Annemieke Tierney)

Gogos and Parker's collaborative piece during 2023 AAFW. (Image: Annemieke Tierney)

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