During her visit to Papua New Guinea, Senator Fierravanti-Wells met with emerging Papua New Guinean designer, Genevieve Igara-Falevai. Winner of the inaugural Stella Runway 2016 Designer of the Year Award, the designer and founder of Wantok Clothing showcased her label's unique collection at Pacific Runway 2016 in Sydney in October. Genevieve shared with Senator Fierravanti-Wells her experience of taking her collection to the international stage of Pacific Runway, and showcasing her Papua New Guinean designs.
An 'accidental' fashion designer, Genevieve passed on a career in economics to follow her passion to create beautiful garments with a Papua New Guinean twist. Starting her label in 2015, Genevieve has been awarded Miss Pacific Islands Pageant Project Runway 2015 and 2016; Stella Runway 2016 Designer of the Year; and dresser for Miss Papua New Guinea 2015 and 2016. Her husband also joined the label, leaving behind a career as an aeronautics engineer, to lead the textile printing and production operations of Wantok Clothing.
The Australian High Commission partnered with Stella Magazine and Sydney-based Raffles College of Design and Commerce for the award, supporting Genevieve's participation in Pacific Runway 2016, as well as a week's training at Raffles College of Design and Commerce. Genevieve will also benefit from a twelve-month mentorship with the college on brand development. Stella Magazine photographed Genevieve's collection in iconic Sydney locations which will be published in a future edition of the magazine.
Australia supports economic empowerment of women through the fashion industry, including initiatives such as the Pacific Project-Papua New Guinea, which aims to develop the bilum sector, working with bilum producer groups in Goroka and Mount Hagen in the Highlands Region.