Jessica Mauboy On The Importance Of Representation On The AAFW Runway

"When you don’t see yourself, that kind of makes you feel like you’re in a deep sea and you’re by yourself."

The Indigenous Fashion Projects presentation is undoubtedly one of the most memorable shows during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week. 2022’s runway went above and beyond.

Uniquely bright, brave and bold clothing from First Nations designers Kirrikin, Liandra Swim, MAARA Collective, Native Swimwear and Ngali lit up the runway, and as if the atmosphere wasn’t at a peak already, the famed and exceptionally talented Jessica Mauboy closed the show by performing her new single, Automatic

Models paraded around the singer, whose breathtaking vocal range was undeterred despite the fact that she was performing a full choreographed dance at the same time. 

marie claire caught up with Mauboy shortly before she hit the runway, who told us in no uncertain terms how much this show, and this performance meant to her. 

(Credit: Getty)

Tell me about your involvement with Fashion Week this year and how it came about?

It came through from my involvement as a community ambassador for DAAF (Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair). I’ve always been a massive fan of DAAF, and growing up in the NT, where I guess a lot of the growth has really come to life. The knowledge of knowing that this organisation is purely run by indigenous communities themselves. This has always been my DNA, and through music I’ve been able to bring that spirit through and spread the news and encourage, and most importantly to be seen as that role model for my community. It’s such an emotional opportunity for me. I just had to be a part of it.

(Credit: Getty)

And how are you feeling ahead of the event?

I’m a little nervous. As always. I’m always kind of conscious of who’s in the room, who I’m singing to, where they’re coming from, how they are feeling and what they’ve endured throughout the day. So it is my responsibility to bring the spirit and give everyone an opportunity to dive into their world and acknowledge themselves individually, that’s just an added bonus to music.

Which designers are you a big fan of?

I wear a lot of Ngali when I’m at home and in my personal time. I just love her prints, I love her stories and I love her colours; the beautiful okers and the beautiful reds that I grew up with.

I have a lot of MAARA collective stuff. The designer, Julie Shaw is such a badass woman and I love her structural pieces, particularly her high waisted, A-line pants that are fitted. She’s given me all those feels and I’m enjoying her pieces.

I’ve known Liandra Gaykamangu of Liandra Swim since she stepped out on the scene and she’s just been levelling up every single time. I remember meeting her for the first time and she was really shy and didn’t say one word. She was a fan at the time, and I believe it still is, but we bypass each other and I always make sure to encourage her and say that we’re watching, we see you, and we love your work.

(Credit: Getty)

In the last decade there have been big changes at Australia Fashion Week. Tell me about your first fashion week and the transition you’ve seen?

 The first time that I’ve ever experienced my first fashion show, I believe I was wearing Bianca Spender. I was this young, coloured girl going to this fashion show going ‘whoa’, because I’d only ever seen these images in magazines from the news agency in Darwin.

I didn’t see a lot of like indigenous faces, like myself. When you don’t see yourself, that kind of makes you feel like you’re in a deep sea and you’re by yourself. In the last 10 years, I’ve seen the development, the conversations and the amount of indigenous people wanting to be involved and wanting to take that leap regardless of what people say. Now there is a lot more of an understanding of how indigenous stories are being told and used in textiles and the way they are represented in a fashion. There’s more awareness and more depth in how we place things and the respect around it. I feel really proud. I’m like a hype person. I’m the emoji hands.

How do you feel about the relationship between music and fashion?

I think it’s deep. I adore when things are really thoughtful in how that collection is being seen and projected, it gives me goosebumps. Romance was born is someone that always gets me, it’s always considered and really transports me to a wonderland and I can see it and I can visualise it. I think that’s not only watching the pieces, but hearing what the pieces.

(Credit: Getty)

You’re singing your new single ‘Automatic’ at the show. Tell me about your new music.

 My new music is what I personally would have on my playlist, in terms of production, in terms of melody and in terms of twirling around and shaking a leg. This is my jam. I think putting things out there that you extremely love is really important for any artist. It’s essentially a reset party mode, but it’s also just all feels for me.

Automatic the new single by Jessica Mauboy is available to stream now. 

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