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Julie Shaw, a Yuwaalaraay woman from New South Wales and two-time winner of the inaugural National Indigenous Fashion Awards unveiled her MAARA Collective Resort 2022 collection at Australian Fashion Week. We loved it. The designer has now released the campaign featuring Charlee Fraser. Amongst soft, sweet colours and hypnotic prints, there are loosely tailored suits and of course, great swimwear. We spoke to Julie about the creation of MAARA and the inspiration behind the new collection:

Congratulations on such a beautiful collection. We loved the show. How did it feel to unveil this collection at fashion week?

"Thank you so much. It was an amazing feeling to finally unveil the new collection, and being part of Australian Fashion Week was a real milestone for the brand."

When was the moment you had the idea for MAARA?

"It's actually been a bit of a slow burn... I've studied and worked in fashion for quite a few years now and across different parts of the industry, but I've always had a dream to collaborate with and showcase the creative talents of our Indigenous artists and weavers. I guess it was just the right time for me both personally and professionally to start this particular brand with its collaborative focus when I did (back in 2019) and I feel like it has also been building to a  point where industry and audiences are showing a genuine interest in Indigenous design in this country."

Where did this Resort collection begin?

"Resort 22 began as with each of our collections, as a homage to our rich and unique Australian landscape, and is  underpinned by the beautiful feature print 'Tjukula' (waterholes) by Pitjantjatjara artist Lexie Michael of Ernabella Arts Inc. Licensed through Copyright Agency, the print tells the stories of Lexie's mother's and grandfather's country, where through her incredible linework and stunning use of colour she depicts the variations in the landscape where people travel from Uluru and Kata Tjuta through to the APY Lands in remote South Australia, which is her country. The print is so refined and elegant... It's really quite feminine, and it really inspired the silhouettes and the overall colour palette of the collection, where this season we've explored relaxed linen suiting alongside our signature silk dresses, tunics and kaftans."

The colours are beautiful and reflect the Australian landscape. Where are your favourite places to travel to for inspiration?

"Anywhere in the vast open... whether that's outback country (I grew up in Lightning Ridge, outback NSW so always crave those wide open spaces, big skies) or somewhere by the ocean. I'm constantly inspired by the changing  colours of country, how the light touches the land, textures and variations in the landscape and the smallest details of nature. Somewhere I'm truely inspired by is Arnhem Land in the remote Top End of Australia. That place is incredibly rich in culture and tradition, and is an environment like I've never seen before."

Sustainability is such a huge factor in design now. How is this Resort collection sustainable?

"We use natural fibres such as linens and silks and veer away from synthetics even in our linings and trims. Our core swim fabric (and linings) are made from recycled ocean waste. We keep as much of our packaging as recycled and compostable options wherever possible - always looking for better materials and better ways of leading on our sustainability  journey. We also manufacture locally in Sydney, supporting the local manufacturing industry and minimising our carbon footprint."

We love Charlee. What was it like working with her?

"It has been an absolute dream come true for the brand to have Charlee Fraser front our new campaign. She is a true professional, and it was a real treat to witness an international model such as Charlee her work her magic on set. She is also such a beautiful soul, and an incredible role model to young Indigenous women."

What do you hope people feel when wearing your designs?

"I hope that people feel a connection to the stories of this country when they wear a MAARA garment. I hope that they think about the artist/s who created the prints, and what these stories mean and represent... How they are playing a role in carrying on these stories and traditions through the medium of contemporary fashion."

And for those who don’t yet know, why the name ‘MAARA’?

"MAARA refers to the words for 'hands' in the Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay language groups, of where I am from. So the name 'MAARA Collective' is all about honouring and acknowledging the 'many hands' that are involved in the collaborative and creative processes."