Arts + CultureApril 04, 2024 / 7 minute read

First Nations role models make their mark

She’s the embodiment of being ‘Black, Bold and Beautiful’ – an empowered Indigenous woman who values and supports her community, loves her family and has the confidence to proudly walk the runway to help showcase emerging and successful Australian designers. 

Corina Reuben, a Torres Strait Islander woman of Daisy Hill, was among a group of Indigenous models starring in the Black, Bold and Beautiful Indigenous Women’s Luncheon on 11 March at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Meanjin/Brisbane. 

Yet Corina is anything but the stereotypical runway model that may automatically come to mind – at age 46, she has 5 children she is raising solo. 

Corina says she has gained a lot in a personal sense, from her past few years modelling in various First Nations fashion events, including the Global Indigenous Runway event at Melbourne Fashion Festival. 

The Black, Bold and Beautiful (BBB) Luncheon is among her favourites – an event founded in 2009 by Aunty Sandra King OAM, of Sandra King Management, to showcase First Nations fashion, businesses and guest speakers.  

The fashion parades have models of all ages, from teenagers to Elders of various shapes and sizes, allowing models to step out of their comfort zone and take on new challenges. 

‘It’s been important for me to do these events, being a single mum, to help me with confidence,’ Corina says. ‘I have had the support from my family so I can get out and do the shows – they know these events mean a lot to me.’ 

Corina says the BBB events are great for the wider community and for female empowerment across a variety of ages. 

‘They also show the younger ones about being confident in what type of women you can be in society today,’ she says. 

Logan model Corina Reuben leading models along the BBB runway, wearing Koorie Threads. Photo: Tito Media

Corina lives by that statement, making sure she has taken her daughters along to see her on the runway in action as a proud black woman. Now aged 7, 10, and 13, the girls are growing up with their mother as a role model on how to be confident in their own bodies … but that’s not all. 

‘They also see me when I take them along to work out in the Logan community, interacting with the community,’ Corina says. 

‘It shows them and teaches them to give back and help others, which is what I always try to do.’ 

‘It’s also awareness for the designers in Australia as a platform to showcase their designs – you never know who is sitting it the audience and might help their label become more well known. 

She was among 20 First Nations models at the BBB event aged from 15 to into their 50s – several based in the City of Logan. 

Hyperdome Shopping Centre was a major sponsor for the BBB Luncheon, to support the celebration of First Nations fashion, business and culture celebration. 

Brian Turner, Hyperdome Centre Manager, says the sponsorship was reflective of the Logan shopping centre being a social space dedicated to enhancing the lives of the local community. 

‘The centre serves as a central hub for retail, entertainment, community, and culture, and we are committed to meaningful partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, businesses, and community collaborators,’ Brian says. 

Event founder Aunty Sandra King – a Yagara/Quandamooka/Bundjalung/Tanna Island Elder – says the theme of the BBB event this year was ‘Navigating Challenges’ to explore discussions held at community meetings and support worker groups, involving First Nations women who have taken on various challenges throughout their careers, personal, and social lives.  

She says the event was successful for everyone involved. ‘Commonwealth Games medal designer and fashion designer Delvene Cockatoo-Collins sold out of all the outfits she featured in the parade,’ Aunty Sandra says.  

Fashion by Delvene Cockatoo-Collins on show at the BBB Luncheon. Photo: Tito Media

‘Also, when emerging designer Red Ridge The Label fashions hit the catwalk, a guest went online and immediately purchased an outfit modelled at BBB.  

‘BBB has helped many First Nations models and artists start their careers, such as Perry Mooney, who went on to walk at Australian Fashion Week and has ventured into acting, now starring in Population 11. 

‘Model/actress/poet Guyala (Lala) Bayle has shot for iconic international labels, and many others have gone on to model for local and national designers and magazines.’  

Logan model and Quandamooka/Guwa-Koa/Wakka Wakka woman, Rhonda Purcell, also featured in the fashion parade and ‘brought the house down’ according to Aunty Sandra. 

‘Rhonda started modelling for me back in 1988 and she is very well known and been highly involved and is a very big supporter,’ Aunty Sandra says. 

‘She is an example of what we are about – allowing our young ones to dream big.’ 

Over the years Rhonda (pictured in blue above in the main image, wearing Koorie Threads on the BBB catwalk – Photo: Tito Media) has been very active in community liaison and pursued a passion for fitness, resulting in winning international gold and silver medals for competitive natural bodybuilding. 

‘For our Elders to see our mob do something like that has been incredible,’ Aunty Sandra says. 

‘Our local Indigenous women have come so far since the 1970s when I first started modelling,’ she says. 

Your Privacy

This website uses ‘cookies’ for analytical purpose and to improve site user experience. By continuing to browse, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.