Magnolia Maymuru on the Importance of Aboriginal Representation in Australian Fashion
At Melbourne Fashion Festival just gone, it was amazing to see a celebration of cultural diversity in a more solid way than ever before, with a standalone First Nations Runway that featured first nations designers.
“There need to be greater opportunities created for people from minority and underrepresented groups to enter the industry as models, designers and creative directors,” Yolŋu woman, actress and model, Magnolia Maymuru, tells POPSUGAR Australia.
Having worked with David Jones for years on campaigns that relate closely to country, Maymuru walked in the David Jones Gala Runway, which opened the 2022 Melbourne Fashion Festival.
Maymuru was the first Aboriginal woman from the Northern Territory to enter the Miss World Australia pageant (she made finals), and she also won Best Supporting Actress at the 9th AACTA Awards, for her portrayal in The Nightingale. She continues her work as a model today, appearing on the cover of Vogue Australia and constantly featured in David Jones campaigns.
As a role model for Aboriginal representation in both the film and fashion industries, Maymuru uses her platforms to encourage others to see the beauty and talent within her culture.
“For me, it’s definitely about using fashion and my platform to vocalise and draw attention to Indigenous Australians; their creative talents, the culture, and the rich history we have here in Australia.
“I hope to be a role model for young women both in and out of the fashion industry to be confident in themselves, and to continue advocating for greater representation of Indigenous Australians in the industry.”
Her passion to inspire begs the question, what is fashion really all about? For me, I see fashion as a form of creative expression, a platform to tell stories, explore culture, question our beliefs… a place that welcomes stepping outside any form of “comfort-zone”. So then, doesn’t that mean embracing all cultures, especially one that is indigenous to Australia, within the fashion industry?
It’s no secret that the Australian fashion industry has been a little slow to get wind of the craving for diversity, but we’re finally getting there. In this year’s Melbourne Fashion Festival, I myself walked as a plus-size model, among a few others, while there was also a distinct growth of ethnic diversities too.
“I think it’s important to educate people and encourage brands to showcase their line on models of different race, size, and ethnicity to be reflective of all the people who wear these clothes,” Maymuru says.
Australia is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, and our creative industries are starting to reflect that, which is both relieving and exciting to see. Boosting first nations designers, such as MAARA Collective, Ngali, Kirrikin and wa~ring, on a commercial Australian runway, is what we should be doing, as well as brands like David Jones, that openly celebrate and include multi-cultures.
As a model, walking in a show that celebrates diversity, wearing clothes that are made locally, is a truly unmatched experience.
“Being able to walk the runway in my home country is so special, especially to have my sister and daughter with me here for the Gala Runway presented by David Jones,” Maymuru says.
“I am such an advocate for Australian-made and home-grown talent, so to have the opportunity to wear a number of established and emerging Australian designers stocked by David Jones on the runway at an iconic Melbourne location is an incredible experience.”