Samantha Harris was discovered as a finalist in a Girlfriend magazine modelling competition at age 13. Her Aboriginal, German, Dutch and Australian mixed ancestry has given her a dramatic and unique kind of beauty. Golden brown skin and perfect bone structure along with huge brown eyes, an impossibly cute nose and lush full lips. Samantha Harris is the darling of the fashion world in Australia, she has the whole world at her feet.
This year sees the inaugural Australian Indigenous Fashion Week on the 11th of April. Harris was a driving force behind this, selecting young hopefuls with an Aboriginal or TSI background for the chance at burgeoning career in the fashion industry.
So how does she see the future of the fashion industry? What does she believe in? What sustains her? Here are some of her opinions and thoughts on the state of play in Australian fashion taken from her various media interviews.
Samantha Harris talks to magazine Deadly Vibe, then aged 16.
On Being an Inspiration to Young Australians
Much hype is made of her background as an Indigenous Australian and about her being inspirational to other Aboriginal young people. However Harris takes a broader view of her role as an inspirational figure. “I’m not constantly thinking about it, but I think if I inspire young children, not just indigenous children but anyone, to follow their dreams and do what they want to do in their life then that’s good.”
On Diversity in Australian Fashion
“I would love to see more diversity on the catwalks and in campaigns because Australia itself is such a multicultural country, why don’t we celebrate that,” Harris said at the opening of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Redfern for the launch of the first search for an indigenous model.
Recently Aussie fashion label Country Road came under fire on Facebook. When people complained that there wasn’t enough dark skinned models in their latest campaign.
Although Harris disagreed, saying “There are fashion parades where designers only want certain looking girls. Maybe they don’t want multicultural girls, maybe they only want European looking girls. “It’s just the look that they’re going for. Then there’ll be another designer that will want your look in the show,” she said.
However, she does believe that there’s plenty of room for indigenous models to flourish in Australia. “Because there aren’t any,” Harris said. “You can’t even say there’s not a lot. There are such beautiful boys and girls out there that I don’t see why there’s not more of them.”
On Her Edgy Short Film
In stark contrast to her fresh-faced look as the former youth ambassador for David Jones, Harris went in an edgy and cinematic new direction when she starred in Bound More than a Madman. A short film by Cara Striker and styled by Bex Sheers. It’s an unnerving and unsettling film of the same ilk as a David Lynch. It features Harris blindfolded and bound to a coffee table, an antique wooden chair and sinister props more suitable to a Victorian lunatic asylum. All the while there’s a creepy and penetrating ambient track in the background. Take a look below.
On Blending Aboriginal Culture and the Fashion Industry
Speaking to Fashionista magazine in 2012, she spoke about how she wants people to take notice of her rich and ancient culture. She hoped that following the first Australian Indigenous Fashion Week in 2013 that ”the rest of the world will stand up and take notice of such a unique heritage. We are an old culture that is very rich in the arts, sports and fashion.” Harris said. The arts over the years, especially the cave paintings, have told our story. We are a very creative race and fortunately we can express ourselves in artistic ways such as painting and even design. Hopefully this strong connection will be upheld for many years to come.”
Simone Heng interviews Samantha Harris for Spring/Summer Dubai Fashion Week 2012.
On Her Favourite Aboriginal designer
Harris has mentioned that she’s particularly enamoured of the design of Roopa Pemmaraju. Including her striking graphics and strong and elegant silhouettes. Pemmaraju produces ethical and fairtrade womenswear that is delicate and feminine, featuring beautiful print designs by prominent Aboriginal artists. Each design intricately reflects the vibrant colours of the Australian landscape including the outback’s undulating land, red sand and the sacred energy that connects it all. Royalties from the profits of the clothing are given back to the artist’s community. It’s exquisite, elegant and very Australian. Browse and buy here.
Six Things You Didn’t Know About Samantha Harris
1. In typical supermodel style, don’t expect her to get out of bed for less than a couple of grand (or maybe a nice cup of tea). She admitted to Vogue Australia that she’s not a morning person.
2. She credits her mum for being a major influence and rock for her career. She told
Vogue Australia that ”If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be sitting here today.”
3. Her favourite book as a child was Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree.
4. She loves summer in Australia. So not surprisingly, she didn’t like London weather and found the snow slightly odd. “The people were friendly, but the weather was really, really cold. It started to snow, and I’ve never seen snow before, so I thought that it was raining because as soon as it hit the ground it turned to water.”
5. Her rock of foundation and inspiration is her mum. She told Vogue Australia that it’s her mother who makes her proud to be Aboriginal. “She has had such a tough life and she tried her best to bring use up and give us what she didn’t have when she was young.”
6. She’s not interested in ‘celebrity’. Instead she already sees herself as successful. ”I don’t see success like that celebrity thing of being in magazines, I just want to have a happy life and be comfortable.” She said.
Source: Vogue Australia