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
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