Fu­ture faces of mod­el­ling

In­dige­nous males mak­ing their mark on the cat­walk

Central and North Burnett Times - - CLOSET - BY Roz Pul­ley

JAR­RON Andy was a house painter un­til re­cently. Nauma Wren is a sec­ond-year ap­pren­tice builder. But the con­struc­tion in­dus­try isn’t the only thing they have in com­mon.

Both are young in­dige­nous males and the fu­ture face of Aus­tralian fash­ion.

They were among two dozen in­dige­nous mod­els who shone a light on the cre­ations of 10 fash­ion col­lec­tions at the eighth an­nual Cairns In­dige­nous Art Fair yes­ter­day.

It’s 12 months since Jar­ron’s aunt sug­gested he give the cat­walk a whirl – and opened a world of op­por­tu­nity for him. Nauma is tak­ing his first ten­ta­tive steps into the pub­lic arena af­ter be­ing nudged into mod­el­ling by a friend of his mum’s.

“CIAF is where it all started for me,” says 24-year-old Jar­ron.

“An aunty of mine told me they didn’t have enough guys last year, so I put my hand up, had a crack and the rest is history.”

No sooner had CIAF fin­ished than the for­mer In­n­is­fail footy player be­came the 2016 Au­tumn Win­ter Face of Cairns Cen­tral and the first male in­dige­nous model signed to Dallys Mod­els in Bris­bane.

Jar­ron was cast in the Global In­dige­nous Run­way at Mel­bourne Fash­ion Fes­ti­val in March and will be at the Pa­cific In­ter­na­tional Run­way at Syd­ney in Oc­to­ber.

“It’s un­charted waters for an in­dige­nous male model and I’ve taken it upon my­self to be the first to chart these waters,” he says.

“It’s some­thing to be re­ally proud of. Guys have al­ways been too ashamed and lack con­fi­dence in them­selves.”

De­spite his re­cent ar­rival on the scene, Jar­ron is al­ready men­tor­ing oth­ers.

“When­ever I wind up among blokes, I en­cour­age them to have a go. Nauma is do­ing CIAF for the first time this year. He’s the same back­ground as me – con­struc­tion. I told him ‘if this is some­thing you want to do, go for it’. I’m not look­ing back any more.

“My main fo­cus now is not just be­ing a model, but a role model and not just for in­dige­nous chil­dren, but non-in­dige­nous as well.”

Nauma, 18, a for­mer Trin­ity Bay State High stu­dent, ap­plied to be part of the CIAF fash­ion per­for­mance af­ter see­ing it ad­ver­tised.

“My girl­friend’s mum also told me about it and I’ve been told in the past I should try mod­el­ling – that I’d be good at it be­cause I’ve got the height,” says the strik­ing six-footer.

“It’s my first time mod­el­ling and I’m a lit­tle ner­vous, but I’m look­ing for­ward to it. My fam­ily are happy that I’m do­ing some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent. Some of the boys at work are giv­ing me a bit of a hard time, but that’s okay.”

Fash­ion designer and cu­ra­tor Grace Lee or­gan­ised the first fash­ion per­for­mance five years ago to ex­pose the work of lo­cal in­dige­nous de­sign­ers – but saw it de­velop into an op­por­tu­nity for the mod­els as well.

“I see it as a plat­form for them to lever­age from, so they can get a bit of ex­pe­ri­ence and feel more con­fi­dent about their po­ten­tial,” Grace says.

“It’s a grow­ing space. We need more in­dige­nous women mod­el­ling and dif­fer­ent sizes. There are a lot of is­sues we’re try­ing to tackle, but it’s a cel­e­bra­tion of break­ing all of those bound­aries and pulling down pre­con­ceived ideas of what peo­ple think in­dige­nous fash­ion is and show­cas­ing some­thing that’s hope­fully beyond peo­ple’s ex­pec­ta­tions.”

Grace re­mem­bers the first fash­ion per­for­mance in 2013 when the for­mer creative di­rec­tor of fash­ion pow­er­house Sass and Bide came up to her af­ter the show and gave her a hug.

“She said she hadn’t seen any­thing so mov­ing within the fash­ion in­dus­try be­fore and she’s seen shows all around the world. That was a piv­otal point.

“I re­alised this was some­thing pretty im­por­tant that I needed to do.”

“It’s un­charted waters for an in­dige­nous male model and I’ve taken it upon my­self to be the first to chart these waters


◗ From left mod­els Tephaea Bolton, Ali­son Kohler and Rhon­dell Wil­liams. TOP RIGHT: Back, from left, Rhon­dell Wil­liams and Chelsea Bell and, front from left, Al­lira Charles, Geral­dine Rain­bow, Con­nie Rough­sey. BOT­TOM RIGHT: Jar­ron Andy is pre­par­ing to head to the Global In­dige­nous Run­way in Mel­bourne for fash­ion week.

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