Aboriginal fashion creatives tour Europe to tell Australia's 'real story' - Upsmag - Magazine News


Aboriginal fashion creatives tour Europe to tell Australia’s ‘real story’

Members of an all-Aboriginal group of fashion creatives say a series of shows in Europe became an empowering — and sometimes confronting — opportunity to rectify foreign misconceptions about First Nations and Australian history.

The group of designers and models had been invited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to hold fashion shows in a series of European cities.

A photographer and dancer were also part of the group.

Jack Collard leaps in the air in front of oil paintings in Brussels.  He is wearing traditional clothing and body paint.
Jack Collard performs at a museum in Brussels.(Supplied: Rob Hookey)

Model Shannon McGuire said it soon became clear their impact would go beyond promoting fashion industry talent.

“[It] ended up being really powerful in the way of educating those internationally about who we were,” Ms McGuire said.

“There were people that said to us they didn’t even know we existed.

“It was crazy to think that there are people internationally that see Australia as a European country.”

Ms McGuire was among the models who appeared in a catwalk show at the Brussels Art and History Museum as part of an exhibition of Aboriginal art called Before Time Began.

A didgeridoo played by dancer Jack Collard was heard among the pillars and stone walls of the historic building as designs hailing from remote Australian communities were modeled in front of a non-traditional fashion crowd of dignitaries.

A model stands in the foreground with the catwalk crowd behind her in a hall framed by big pillars. A model stands in the foreground with the catwalk crowd behind her in a hall framed by big pillars.
Designs by multiple Aboriginal designers are modeled to a crowd of dignitaries.(Supplied: Rob Hookey)

Influential people watching on

Managing director of fashion label Kirrikin and tour organizer Amanda Healy said there were influential people watching the show.

“The audience included people from NATO, policymakers from the EU, and senior policymakers from the United Nations,” Ms Healy said.

Other labels in the show included Liandra Swim, Ngali and Maara Collective.

Ms McGuire said all the designs had links to country, culture and stories.

“It was about really telling a story, or the story, the real story of Australia, and I think we found a lot of strength in that.”

The tour also included fashion shows in London and Dublin.

Generating interest in history

Ms Healy said the shows generated a lot of interest in Aboriginal Australian history, particularly in Ireland.

Cassie Puruntatameri and Shannon McGuire pictured wearing stylish, patterned clothing in a garden. Cassie Puruntatameri and Shannon McGuire pictured wearing stylish, patterned clothing in a garden.
Cassie Puruntatameri and Shannon McGuire are among the models who traveled to Europe.(Supplied: Rob Hookey)

“The other thing that I think is really important is the experience that this group had was quite life changing for so many,” she said.

She said she and Ms McGuire were looking for more opportunities to showcase Aboriginal fashion and culture overseas.

“We realized that, in the way of telling the world about us, we haven’t even scratched the surface yet,” Ms McGuire said.

Jack Collard plays the didgeridoo while sitting on the steps at the Brussels Art and History Museum. Jack Collard plays the didgeridoo while sitting on the steps at the Brussels Art and History Museum.
Jack Collard plays the didgeridoo at the Brussels Art and History Museum. (Supplied: Rob Hookey)

“So we’ve come back with guns blazing almost, ready to find some funding to get us on the next trip.”

She said ensuring the interest in First Nations work was long-lasting was also a priority.

“Aboriginal art and design is really on trend so the fashion industry and the media are picking it up … but we don’t want this to just be a trend,” she said.

“We want it to be real.”

Posted 1h ago1 hour agoTue 28 Jun 2022 at 10:13pm, updated 52m ago52 minutes agoTue 28 Jun 2022 at 10:29pm

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