Fash­ion Charlee Fraser speaks about her In­dige­nous her­itage as she mod­els for Stel­lar.

In-de­mand Aus­tralian model Charlee Fraser talks about em­brac­ing her In­dige­nous her­itage, build­ing her brand and the rush of the run­way

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy NICK LEARY Styling KELLY HUME In­ter­view SHEL­LEY SEDDON

Down­time is a pre­cious com­mod­ity for Charlee Fraser. Since mak­ing her de­but at New York Fash­ion Week last year, she has worked al­most non-stop. When Stel­lar catches up with the Aus­tralian model, she is just off the plane in Paris, ready­ing for a job with lux­ury brand Cé­line.

The 22-year-old is com­fort­able with the last-minute na­ture of her ca­reer, a qual­ity that has served her well in an in­dus­try that needs its tal­ent to be up for any­thing. Case in point: ahead of her first-ever cat­walk ap­pear­ance for Alexander Wang, his team asked about cut­ting her long hair – which cas­caded down her back – into a 1920s-style bob.

They gave her a cou­ple of days to mull it over. But, Fraser tells Stel­lar, “I pre­pared my­self prior to the show that it would be a pos­si­bil­ity. I just said, ‘Do it!’ I was re­ally ex­cited to get out on the run­way. Af­ter the show, I checked my phone and it was blow­ing up with mes­sages. ‘Oh my God… your hair. Amaz­ing!’”

The cut turned Fraser into a sen­sa­tion; the fol­low­ing sea­son, she walked in 40 shows for ev­ery­body from Prada to Chanel, Dior to Givenchy. She had come a long way from New­cas­tle, where she was brought up the mid­dle of three chil­dren. Fraser’s her­itage can be traced to the Awabakal peo­ple of New South Wales’s mid-north coast. “I love my In­dige­nous self,” says Fraser. “I’m very proud of my her­itage, so it’s not a prob­lem for me at all, hav­ing that [In­dige­nous model] ‘la­bel’. I’ve grown up be­ing very in touch with my cul­ture. If any­body asks me about it, I’m proud to an­swer.”

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing high school, Fraser started study­ing busi­ness and beauty at TAFE. She found a lo­cal pho­tog­ra­pher on Face­book and set up a shoot on a whim. The shoot cost her noth­ing; he sent some snaps to an agency and “a week later, I was signed. It hap­pened re­ally quickly.”

Fraser worked lo­cally with brands such as Camilla, Myer and Becca Cos­met­ics be­fore head­ing to New York, where she shares a house with fel­low Aus­tralian model Madi­son Stub­bing­ton. “She helped me set­tle in be­cause she’d done the cir­cuit be­fore,” ex­plains Fraser. “It’s a bit tricky. I’m in and out all the time. Oc­ca­sion­ally, I get a few days off.”

She stays con­nected to Aus­tralia, whether through re­turn vis­its or jobs like her lat­est, as a brand am­bas­sador for Bonds. When she was ap­proached to model for the iconic brand, she jumped at the chance. “I couldn’t say no. I’ve grown up wear­ing Bonds. I’m wear­ing their socks right now, ac­tu­ally.”

Fraser may have put her TAFE de­gree on hold, but she re­mains fo­cused on the busi­ness of beauty, en­vi­sion­ing an even­tual path to­wards en­trepreneur­ship.

“I def­i­nitely have goals in terms of col­lab­o­ra­tions and cre­ativ­ity [with] la­bels or cre­at­ing some­thing on my own. I haven’t quite got there yet. It’s go­ing to take more time and more work.” And for now, she notes, “the work is just rolling in. I know for a lot of mod­els that’s not al­ways the case. So I’m very ap­pre­cia­tive of ev­ery­thing I’m get­ting at the mo­ment. My fo­cus is to make those im­pres­sions when I work with clients, and hope to keep the busi­ness open. I want to keep this ride go­ing.”

“I love my In­dige­nous self… I’m very proud of my her­itage, so it’s not a prob­lem for me at all, hav­ing that [In­dige­nous model] ‘la­bel’”

Bonds top, $18, bonds.com.au; Ellery jeans, $850, ellery.com; stylist’s own shoes bonds.com.au;Bridge Bonds skirt, knit, Bec $180, $50,& be­can­d­bridge.com; Ryan Storer ear­rings (right ear, worn through­out), $291 (for pair), and (left ear, worn through­out), $420 (for pair), ryanstorer. com; stylist’s own belt (worn through­out)

Frame jacket, $600, ed­ward­sim­ports. com; Bonds briefs, $17, bonds.com.au Hair Con­rad Dor­nan Make-up Ozzy Sal­vatierra

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