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"Take the past and the present and make a future for yourself" - Elaine George ahead of Brisbane Fashion Festival finale  

Phoebe Blogg -

Since debuting as the first Aboriginal woman to front the cover of Vogue Australia in 1993, Elaine George has become a force with which to be reckoned.

Originally scouted whilst waiting in line for a ride at Dreamworld theme park, the then 17-year-old never intended to be a model.

Once in the limelight, it was not long before George made headlines, fronting the cover of Vogue's 1993, September issue.

Elaine George wearing Analia the label. (Image: Jonathan Green)

Fast forward to today and the proud Arakwal woman from Bundjalung Nation has been gracing our runways for roughly 30 years.

Now a mum to a beautiful son and daughter, George evenly splits her time between work and family, which she – like most creatives – believes is the key to maintaining balance and ensuring both receive equal levels of attention.

Joining Australia's First Nations Fashion and Design (FNFAD) organisation as an ambassador, has seen George not only broaden her workload, but raise awareness in the continuation of advocacy for First Nation creatives.

"Love seeing that designers are looking at who they are targeting with more older models and different shapes of men and women", said Ms George.

"We are on the right track to have more First Nations walking in mainstream shows (but we always can do better)."

Elaine George on the Ginger & Smart runway. (Image: Jonathan Green)

Although George enjoys modelling and continues to feature in runways and editorials around the world, she remains passionate and committed to her work in child protection – primarily working with children in out-of-home care.

"All this time I still work my full-time job in child protection", she said.

Working for Key Assets in Queensland – a non-government, not-for-profit children, family and community services agency – as a cultural practice lead sees George support carers understanding First Nations parenting, connection to community and country and how important it is for these children to have that connection with their family.

Elaine George on the Ginger & Smart runway. (Image: Jonathan Green)

Having recently stepped back on the runway after a brief hiatus and relaxing European getaway, George's return saw her hit the ground running.

Appearing in both Ngail's and Ikuntji Artists, 2023 Australian Fashion Week shows.

"The last few months have been a rush with Afterpay Australia Fashion Week, not just walking but VIP guests for other shows", she said.

This week Elaine touched down in Brisbane to walk in the city's annual Brisbane Fashion Festival. Frocking up to support a series of local designers, is what George does and enjoys best – as reflected in the beaming smile displayed upon her face whilst walking the festivals' Hancock Prospecting Next Gen runway.

"Love, love, love seeing more First Nations brands both on the runways and in the media…our runways are stories and people do want to see this more often, not just once in a couple of years," George told Style Up.

"I do believe the industry is evolving, but we can do better by hiring more First Nations roles in the industry, such as make-up artists, photographers, and set designers.

"When discussing how many young Indigenous models aspire and look up to George she is of course nothing but flattered.

"It has been overwhelming that young First Nations models first know who I am and now my nickname is Aunty Vogue," she said.

When asked what advice she would share with these young creatives striving to break into the fashion industry, George is firm in her belief's that those who came before us suffered so we could thrive.

Respecting those who paved the way before you, whilst also paving the way for yourself is something George believes to be of great importance.

"Always remember there have been many strong First Nations people who have paved the way before you. Take the past and the present and make a future for yourself," she said.

"I have a saying: As a strong Aboriginal woman, I will continue to make a change and break the cycle. My ancestors didn't die for me to be silent."

Elaine George on the Ginger & Smart runway. (Image: Phoebe Blogg/Style Up)

Although we may be approaching the end of 2023, George shows no signs of slowing down.

"You think as I'm getting older that it would slow down. It's far from the truth", she said.

With a series of appearances, projects and educational talks already scheduled, the artistic model, devoted mother and passionate First Nations woman, is paving the way for the future of First Nations creatives.

Elaine George is represented by BlakList Agency.

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