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Model citizen: Cindy Rostron is a star on and off the runway

Phoebe Blogg -

Inspiring younger generations through her modelling career and involvement in community projects has seen Cindy Rostron grow to become a prominent First Nations figure.

With a skin name of Bangardidjan/Bangin, Rostron's mother's clan is Baraba from Banam-banamdih and her father's clan is Bununggu from Buluh Kaduru.

When an opportunity to model arose at Barunga Festival in 2021, Rostron wasted little time questioning whether modelling was a career she wanted to pursue.

"I started my modelling career three years ago, and it went so fast. I didn't expect my career would grow so big," said First Nations model Cindy Rostron.

"My family and friends encouraged me, so one day, the opportunity came at Barunga Festival 2021 where I modelled for Bàbbarra Designs and I went forward and tried it for the first time and I really liked it. I then took more opportunities as they came up and loved it more and more.

"I've always wanted to be a model, it's my second dream."

Image: Marley Morgan.

Although currently living in Maningrida on Kunibidji djomi land, Rostron is regularly travelling for work and is known to be engaged in a range of projects across Australia.

While she has had a series of successes since pursuing a career as a model, Rostron notes fronting the cover of VOGUE Australia's May 2022 issue one of her most noteworthy achievements.

"When I went to Sydney for the first time, I shared the cover of Vogue with Elaine George, Magnolia Maymuru and Charlie Fraser. The moment I had bright red hair and it was build-up season so it was hot. It was so good camping with the team on the riverside, showing them stone country," she said.

Similar to her First Nations cover stars (Elaine George, Magnolia Maymuru and Charlie Fraser) she shared the VOGUE cover with, Rostron believes that the representation surrounding Indigenous communities and creatives working together as one, is slowly yet surely improving.

"It's really good seeing so many Blakfellas from different countries and cultures, working together as one. I would love to see more First Nations people follow their dreams and go forward in this industry," she said.

"I'm so grateful for all my opportunities and people who have supported me in my career."

Whilst Rostron is admired in the fashion industry and broader creative industry for her successful career as a model, the young creative is also heavily involved in the community - with her most recent involvement in the 2022 Strong Women for Healthy Country Network, being a personal highlight.

Created in 2019 as a way to connect female rangers living in remote areas of the Northern Territory, NT Strong Women for Healthy Country Network has grown to become much more than just that – as Rostron shares.

"Being part of Strong Women for Healthy Country Network is really important to me and to all NT women. It's really important for them to be seeing other women's country, sharing knowledge, sharing culture and supporting each other. It's so good to learn from each other," Rostron told Style Up.

"The Strong Women for Healthy Country Network 2022 went so good, we landed in Alice Springs and went straight to Ross River Eastern Arrente Country. The country was beautiful with the hills and desert, really different from here on my country to there. Here we have lots of trees and rocks, there they have lots of hills and big open spaces. We have different lore and different culture.

"I was working with Vogue, Sun People Creative, Malrey Morgan and Nina Fitzgerald on taking photographs and documenting the forum."

"One morning we woke up at 4am or maybe 5am, so early I can't remember, to do a sunrise photoshoot on the desert hills. I was wearing some of my family's designs from Bàbbarra Women's Centre. Everything felt so incredible. All the pictures turned out really beautiful."

Image: Marley Morgan.

With culture being such a large part of Rostron's life, interests and career opportunities, Country and community involvement inspire her to not only spread awareness and create greater advocacy for Indigenous creatives but also all Indigenous individuals.

"My culture means everything to me. There are lots of Indigenous cultures in every state, and it's really important to all of us, because all of us came from bush and that's where we connect with the land and the land owns us, that's why we own the land back," she said

"My culture inspires me to stand up for myself and my people through my platform and work. I'm always sharing language and culture through social media, always sharing both sides, Bininj and Balanda."

"I definitely am continuing to work with the Strong Women for Healthy Country network and plan to work with them more in the future. This year, I attended the 2023 Strong Women for Healthy Country forum, this time I attended as a Djelk Ranger with Felina Campion and Vicki Pascoe. The forum was held at Pudakul Aboriginal Culture Tours on Limilngan-Wulna Country. It was really great to see new rangers from different country and to reconnect and share again on country with the rangers I met the year before."

In addition to her many magazine editorials, modelling opportunities and involvement with Strong Women for Healthy Country Network, Rostron has also been working closely with Bábbarra Women's Centre for their youth fashion and design project, Young Daluk x Bábbarra

"I've been doing some amazing work with Young Daluk x Bábbarra, a youth fashion and design project designed and run by Bábbarra Women's Centre, through Young Daluk x Bábbarra," she said.

Governed by women for women, Bábbarra Women's Centre enables local women to develop and run women-centred enterprises that support healthy and sustainable livelihoods – an initiative Rostron is significantly proud to contribute to and advocate for.

"Something I'm really passionate about is supporting other NT young women to be strong and confident and follow their passions. I have supported and mentored some young girls to learn skills in fashion modelling and runway. I'm excited to continue this work in 2024, i look forward to seeing more NT young women in this industry and following their dreams always."

Image: Marley Morgan

With an ever-growing modelling career, commitment to community and passion for culture, Rostron is inspiring both First Nations communities and the broader public, – of all ages – that it is only when we do join forces and work together will we truly ignite change.

Where you came from and who you are should not matter when striving to follow your dreams and create change, and Rostron is the perfect example of how you should not let your location and identification as a First Nations person limit your opportunities – not now, not ever.

"It's so important to follow your dreams, no matter who you are or where you came from. Stay deadly you mob."

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Design details for the outfits from Babbarra Designs Cindy is wearing:

Look 1

Bush dye dress – Apphia Wurrkidj, Deborah Wurrkidj, J. Wurrkidj - Manbirrbbirr (small bush flowers)

Also – Manbirrbbirr bush dye dress is made by Raw Cloth.

This dress is also from the DALUK collection by Babbarra as seen on the 2023 Country to Couture runway show.

Bush dye wrap skirt – Jay Jurrupula Rostron - Mimih Dancing

Look 2

Purple top – E. Kandabuma - Kunngol (cloud)

Gold skirt – J. Wurrkidj - Kukurlk Kare (Going Underground)

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