Future faces of modelling
Indigenous males making their mark on the catwalk
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.