Meet Cassie, a proud women from Tiwi Island and the face of this season's range. It was such a fun day shooting with Cassie, she lit up the room with her gorgeous smile and was such a pleasure to work with! She was kind enough to answer some questions so that you guys can get to know her a bit more too!
I’d love for you share a bit about yourself. Where you are from, a bit about your family and how you ended up living here in Melbourne.
I’m a proud Tiwi woman. Born and raised on my traditional country in a small Aboriginal community called Pirlangimpi on the Tiwi Islands (Melville), which is a community of about 450 people.
Tiwi Islands is off the mainlands of Australia, 80km north of Darwin NT and is made up of two islands, Bathurst and Melville. The Islands was separated from the mainlands approximately 11,000 years ago.
I come from a family of strong, staunch people in their cultural identity both my Mum’s side and and my Dad’s side which I believe has shaped me into the woman I am today in a way that I know who I am and where I come from, so I feel connected to my cultural identity and self no matter where I go.
I came to Melbourne with my cousins Nikita and Kinara, and my little nephew Romuald... it was meant to be just a visit for us for New Years 2015/16, to spend it with my one of my cousins Jenna, who was living here for a long time with her 3 kids. I ended up staying and living with her and her family for a few months while looking for work and settling in.
I’ve never lived in a big city before or moved away from my family and community, so being 19 years old at the time, it was pretty daunting. It obviously took a few months to adapt to the city life and get used to public transport, and get settled with a job and my own place. I’m just very thankful for my cousin Jenna for helping me adapt, and my family back home for supporting me, encouraging me and believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
At first my Dad was pretty reluctant and in denial of me deciding to stay in Melbourne especially being young, but I think he came to terms and had more faith in me when he started to see the life I had planned out and made happen for myself.
I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters. One of my sisters moved to Melbourne from Darwin with her partner and two little daughters a couple of years ago so it’s really nice to have family here. I love every moment spent with my sister and nieces they just warm my heart. Family is a really big thing for me because they are the only one who will be there for me through good times and difficult times – so I’m really blessed to have a supportive family.
Mum, Lydwina Puruntatameri & Me at Munupi Arts & Crafts
I have never been to the Tiwi islands, a place I’d love to go to one day, what makes it so special? For someone visiting Tiwi Islands for the first time what are 5 things you would recommend them do?
I think there are many things that make the Islands special – the art, history, lands and sites, the Tiwi people. I will list 5 recommendations for someone visiting the islands for the first time:
Keep an eye out for crocodiles if you are near water! Haha
The local Tiwi people
Say hello to the locals, they are very friendly, humble and welcoming people. And great to learn from about our culture.
Tiwi Islands Australian Football League (TIFL)
The best time to visit is when they have the TIFL Grand Final on at Wurrimiyanga, Bathurst Island. It’s a great time to visit as they have art sales all in one place, and it’s just a great atmosphere, when all the locals come together. And families from Melville Island travel over to support their footy teams too.
Arts & History
If you can, definitely make time to visit the art and crafts centres and museum if you want to learn about our culture and history. Tiwi art is amazing!
Fishing and tourism
If you love adventure, and also sea food - we have fishing lodges in each community where local tourists take you out on the boat to fish and hunt, and you can have a taste of fresh traditional food from the land and sea.
Tiwi Tours (Wurrimiyanga, Bathurst Island)
Clearwater Island Lodge (Pirlangimpi, Melville Island)
Tiwi Islands Adventure (Milikapiti, Melville Island)
Our people have hunted and gathered from the lands and sea for thousands of years.
I’m so excited to have you as the face of this range :) it was so much fun working with you and you seriously made all my pieces look so amazing! Have you always wanted to be a model? How did you get into modelling?
I have to agree with you, this range is so elegant and beautiful – they made me look and feel beautiful. I loved every single one of them, your work is seriously amazing!!
Modelling was always in the back of my mind. When I got a certain age and height, all my family and friends used to say “you should be a model!”. This was back when I was a teenager so like 5-10 years ago and I didn’t really know of any Indigenous models… it wasn’t as big as it is now.
I was approached on a Melbourne tram by Perina Drummond, who is the founder of Jira Models - an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Modelling Agency. I was one of the first model that joined the agency. I decided to get into modelling because I felt like there wasn’t much Indigenous Australian models in the industry, and it was perfect timing to join Jira Models as they create many opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander models. It is amazing, the work that Perina does. And she knows the fashion industry very well as a stylist and model, so we are in good hands! 😊
I feel like the fashion industry is becoming a lot more diverse. Why do you think it is important to have a variety of different people represented in this industry?
I agree, and I think it’s amazing that the industry is becoming a lot more diverse now. I feel like it’s so important for diversity in the industry because there is simply just so much beauty in seeing different cultures coming together, and also collaborating.
What is something you would like to see more of in the Australian fashion industry and why?
To be honest I would like to see more Indigenous Australian models, and creators (artists, designers etc.) growing and evolving in major runways and campaigns. And I would also like to see more collaboration with local community-based artists, in big campaigns.
What is your favourite piece from the new range and why?
To be honest, All of them!
But if I had to choose, I would say the Scrunch Slip in both CREAM and BLACK. And also, the Scrunch Dress both colours, Terracotta and Black.
They are my favourite pieces in this range not only because they look beautiful and the material is amazing, but because of how they make me feel. They are so elegant and make me feel connected to myself as a woman.
The Scrunch Slip is simple yet so elegant – it’s also the little details for me, the cuts on the bottom, the adjustable straps, and the scrunch at the back.
The Scrunch Dress is fun. All of the scrunches in the dress were perfectly placed to make a beautiful piece!