Considering her family DNA (she’s the great-granddaughter of Hetty Perkins, an elder and matriarch of the Eastern Arrernte people of Central Australia, granddaughter of Aboriginal rights activist Charles Perkins, daughter of art curator Hetti Perkins, and niece to filmmaker Rachel Perkins) it seems fitting she’s part of a new generation helping to pave a new narrative in Australia.
On the day of our shoot, Madden is happy to divulge on everything from diversity to her fashion favourites. In fact, her signature style almost certainly matches the versatile roles she chooses: she’s as happy in jeans as she is in a stunning black Gucci gown.
“To me, style isn't just about what you're wearing, it's an attitude,” says Madden. “It doesn't matter what you're wearing, what matters is how you feel. I want to show off my bold side, my intimate side, my soft side, my fierce side.
“I want my style to reflect who I am. I have a lot of different interests and I feel my eclectic style represents that. I love dressing up for myself and wearing clothes that make me feel confident. For me, putting an outfit together can be like a ritual. I really enjoy the process of curating a look.”
Madden says the best fashion tip she’s ever been given is a simple one: never underestimate the power of a classic bag. When she’s introduced to the newly reimagined Gucci 1961 bag at our shoot, she’s instantly hooked. The design possesses a prized history with a contemporary twist: in 1961, Gucci released the now-iconic design, favoured by the likes of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. With its famous hobo-shaped silhouette and gold hardware, the bag was exemplary of the time it was designed in and became synonymous with Kennedy’s effortless style.
Today, the bag has been reimagined by designer Alessandro Michele as the ultimate example of wearable versatility. With an adjustable strap allowing it to be worn as a shoulder bag, crossbody bag or as a standalone clutch, the design is available in a range of leather colourways and sizes to suit the needs of the modern day style set. First debuted during Gucci’s autumn/winter 2020 menswear show, the bag is limitless in proposition and purpose, and reflects the brand’s new contemporary vision while remaining true to its classic heritage.
So how would Madden style the new Jackie design?
“Over the shoulder just like Jackie,” Madden says. “Across the body with a long strap for a long day of being out and about. Or carrying it and tying a silk scarf around the handle.”
To further elevate an outfit, Madden says a pair of statement shoes, accessories or jewellery can make all the difference. “I really like to incorporate ‘thoughtful socks’ into an outfit that grabs your attention. I pretty much just like colourful socks,” Madden laughs.
When it comes to style icons of the 60s, the actress says she can’t go past Jackie Kennedy: “She’s classic, elegant, timeless,” says Madden, naming Audrey Hepburn and Bianca Jagger as the other standout fashion stars of the decade. “Audrey Hepburn undoubtedly is a huge style icon of the 60s. She represented the elegant women of the era. Then you have Bianca Jagger, who represented the cool, rock n’ roll power suit wearing chicks of the 60s.”
Today, Madden names Billy Porter, Zendaya and Alexa Chung as her 2020 style icons, with Rihanna nabbing Madden’s ultimate modern-day fashion moment, “when she wore that jaw dropping iconic Swarovski crystal dress.”
When quizzed about whether she’d rather live in the 60s vs today, Madden answers thoughtfully, “The 60s were such an important cultural decade. I would love to travel back in time and feel the electric energy of the 60s and see a world relatively technology-free. However, being an Aboriginal woman, I understand what the 60s meant for my people. It was a very dangerous and prejudiced time.”
Considering the era from which the Jackie bag was born, its reimagining is perhaps timely considering the societal and political issues back on the agenda today. For Madden, who delivered an address to the nation on the future of Indigenous Australians as a teenager, the issues advocated for in the 60s feel similar to the movements taking place around the world now.
“We still have a very long way to go as a country,” she says of the recent conversations around race and diversity. “One thing that has changed is there are more opportunities for voices to be heard. What hasn’t changed much is the willingness of politicians to hear those voices.”
How does she think the fashion industry can help advocate for change?
“By celebrating diversity in ways that are ethical and sustainable,” Madden says matter-of-factly. It’s a sentiment shared by the house of Gucci, which highlights a fluid approach to its collections and has taken great strides to close the gap on diversity and inclusivity.
It seems fitting then, that the iconic Jackie bag is back on the fashion agenda considering Kennedy’s contribution to the political world stage. As with all important lessons gleaned from history, perhaps it pays to look backwards in order to move forward.
To discover more about how to style the Gucci Jackie 1961 bag, take a look at Gucci’s Fall/Winter 2020 runway show.
Brought to you by Gucci.
Director: Lester Jones
Music includes “Stalagtite” by James Pants