Australian face and RUSSH Spritualised cover star Charlee Fraser has been appointed as Ambassador and Model Mentor for First Nation Fashion and Design (FNFD), a not-for-profit organisation and platform created to nurture and support Indigenous artists.
FNFD’s prime focus is supporting and encouraging the growth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people within the fashion and design industry. As ambassador, Charlee will be going on-country, to learn about her culture and heritage first hand and to offer meaningful mentoring.
Announcing her Ambassadorship via Instagram, Charlee wrote, “I am so thrilled, thankful, grateful and excited to announce my new role as ambassador and industry mentor for First Nations Fashion Design. I’ve long dreamed of this moment where my culture and career collide and I can’ wait to share this journey with you.”
The premiere event, Walking in Two Worlds will culminate on the 11th December with a fashion performance at Yarrabah in Far North Queensland which was made possible due to an invitation by traditional owner, Elverina Johnson.
Here we chat with Charlee on her Ambassadorship, mentoring program, directorial debut and why she never gets bored.
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You were recently appointed as ambassador for First Nation Fashion and Design Indigenous Corporation, tell us about the organization…
First Nations Fashion and Design (FNFD) is an Indigenous not-for-profit organization that aims to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives a platform within the industry as well as mentoring and continued support. This accounts for all creative areas from fashion to art and everything in between (modeling, photography, videography, textiles, design, artists, stylists, industry professionals etc.).
I remember the very moment we met in Darwin at DAAF (Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair) last year, I was cultivating my own cultural journey when Teagan (FNFD National Coordinator) yelled out to me from across the room ‘Oh my god, it’s Charlee Fraser’ (haha), little did I know that we’d met briefly a few years back when she was a designer at AIFW (Australian Indigenous Fashion Week). She then introduced me to Grace (FNFD Founder and Director) and that’s where I believe our relationship blossomed.
It wasn’t until earlier this year that the girls and I reconnected and just a few Zoom meetings later I became an official ambassador for FNFD.
Grace and Teagan are two of the most inspiring women I’ve met and I couldn’t be more thankful our stars aligned and bought us together. The way they extend love and support for Australia’s rich and valuable Indigenous culture is unfathomable!
FNFD is still very young but as we solidify our foundations and continue to grow you can expect to see a lot more of us in the near future…
You were also named as model mentor, tell us about the ten-day, on-country mentoring program and how you hope to guide those looking to learn from you?
I’ll also be joined by model mentor Perry Mooney. Every model has experienced such a different journey through the fashion industry so I don’t believe my teachings are the only teachings, in fact, I think it’s quite the opposite. The more model mentors we have on board willing to share their encounters, observations and understanding of the fashion world makes for a more insightful classroom (in my opinion) so I’m very grateful and excited to have Perry by my side.
Over the past few weeks leading up to our trip, we’ve been connecting via Zoom on ideas of how to present ourselves as mentors, work closely with models, each other and our team, and what we believe is important to discuss. We created a sort of ‘curriculum’ with four major modules (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) that touch on a number of challenges models may encounter during their journey.
In no way are Perry and I certified professionals by any measure. We aim to share our experiences and processes as well as encourage models to ask questions and find confidence from within.
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The program will culminate with a special event on December 11, what will this entail?
December 11th is FNFD’s very first event! This will showcase all the sensational magic that was created during the first week on-country model mentoring, designing, rehearsing and performing. The footage taken during that time will be digitally projected during our final performance in Cairns bringing the country to an urban setting which challenges the idea of "Walking in Two Worlds" and is the conceptualisation of how and why FNFD exists.
The event itself is going to be like nothing I’ve ever done before, an explosion of culture AND fashion AND art. The concept of Walking in Two Worlds, for me, is everything I’ve been searching for.
You directed and shot the short launch film, ‘Walking in Two Worlds’, tell us about your inspiration…
I was inspired mostly by Luke Currie-Richardson’s short film Walking in Two Worlds posted on his instagram (@balaluke) earlier this year. Although both films are titled the same, I worked closely with Luke and FNFD on the ever evolving concept and it turned out equally as important to share the name then to claim it. I, myself, will hopefully work with Luke in the future on an interpretation of ‘Walking in Two Worlds’ that will carry a similar political foundation touching on two paths I’ve lead in my own life.
The event in December is a culmination of Indigenous Australian culture and the Australian fashion industry so I wanted to showcase the strong dynamic and highlight in which they are different knowing that our very first and fast approaching event would be the birth of a new era in which they come together.
In saying that, none of this would have been at all possible without a number of people who volunteered their time and expertise. Thank you Casimir Dickson, Nathan McGuire, Gianna Alhadidi (Convicts) and Benny Harris (Pix Studios).
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What does it mean for you to fuse your rich culture and career on this new venture?
If you were to ask any of my closest friends, you’d learn that I’ve been long searching for a new path where my culture and career collide. My options were to find one or create one!
As I carry a vigorous connection to Mother Earth along with it bares trust in the mysterious ways the world works, in other words, I believe I’m right where I’m meant to be and flow whichever way the universe takes me with a little manifestation.
What has this year been like for you, how do you stay creative and motivated?
Leading life as a very head strong, female Capricorn, I’m always creating work for myself. I never live a dull day nor am I ever bored. I have a very creative mind naturally; however, I’ll admit, my motivation needs work at times. Creating ideas doesn’t always mean executing them. I find myself highly motivated when deeply inspired. My friends inspire me a lot! I’m surrounded by beautiful, determined, intelligent, fun, loving and passionate people; I don’t know how I ever got so lucky! Seeing them constantly kick goals and reach for the stars reminds me that hard work and dedication really does pay off and that has essentially led me here today.
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You recently featured in our latest issue themed ‘joy’, what brings you joy?
Can I just say how fun it was to shoot all day on a giant jumping castle with an outstanding group of kids?
It may sound cliché but I find joy in the simplicities of life…
Joy when I sleep with the blinds open and wake up with the warm sun on my skin, joy at the first bite of food when you’re hungry, playing with water is extremely underrated, when you notice the vegetables growing or the flowers blooming, joy like jumping into the ocean on a hot day, I love seeing fog roll over the mountains like a blanket early in the morning and watching little specs of dust float around the room amongst the sunlight, joy like when a random baby smiles at you or how you caress a warm cup of hot chocolate, the smell of breakfast when you walk into the kitchen, hugs, how excited my dog gets when I return home.
SO MANY THINGS!
What makes you feel courageous?
I don’t think I’ve ever truly felt courageous…
I tend to push my limits, continuously outgrow my comfort zone and lean into things I would normally fear, is that courage?
What’s next for you?
Although 2021 remains filled with uncertainty, I’ll be taking on my ambassador role with FNFD as we work together on bringing you much more! More events, workshops, programs, seminars - the list continues…