Milan Fashion Week is synonymous with beauty, luxury and hubris.
It’s where the rich and famous sit runway-side, watching the latest trends from the world’s biggest fashion powerhouses strutted by models who probably don’t get out of bed for less than thousands of dollars a day.
Versace, Gucci, Armani, Ferragamo are all regulars.
Now, an Indigenous designer from Far North Queensland has been selected to share the stage with these major international labels at next year’s Milan Fashion Week.
Gungarri-Pitta Pitta woman Cheryl Creed will be the first Australian Indigenous designer to feature in the iconic festival, with her collection selected for the Emerging Talent category.
“I didn’t even think I’d make it because I’d looked at some of the designers and thought it was way past my calibre,” Ms Creed said.
“When I looked at some of the designers and the big fashion royalty names, I just thought ‘Oh my goodness, don’t tell me Murrii Quu is up there with them’.”
Ms Creed said she applied to take part in the prestigious event after her label — Murrii Quu Couture — fell into a slump under the effects of COVID-19.
Like many other small business operators, Ms Creed has been forced to take on part-time work to pay the bills, while simultaneously trying to manage her label.
“I feel really proud that I’m going to be the first Indigenous designer to be there because sometimes we think these things don’t happen to us.
“I’m hoping to go there and make pathways and open doors, do the networking.”
While the news of her selection had been welcome, Ms Creed was still unsure if she would be able to attend Milan in person in March 2021, with the coronavirus pandemic and her own financial stresses still weighing heavily on her mind.
“I can only hope [COVID-19] all goes away because I want to sit next to the gorgeous Ms Donatella Versace, I want her to buy one of my designs and wear it,” Ms Creed said.
“I’m excited to go either way as I’ve never travelled outside Australia so that’s a bit scary to me, sitting on an aeroplane for that long.
“But the pinnacle of it all would be to be there, sitting in among everyone, and seeing my designs on that runway and the world seeing them.”
‘A cute little size 20’
Ms Creed’s foray into the world of fashion came about almost by accident.
In 2014, her younger sister asked her to take part in an Indigenous fashion show.
“I gave her a silly look because we have an image of what a model is; they’re young and they’re size eight and I’m quite the opposite,” she said.
“But I did it, enjoyed it and went back for a second season in 2016 where I modelled a scarf because there weren’t any sizes there for me.
“I just thought ‘I’m going to model the heck out of this scarf and entertain the audience and do it for the designer’ and I got a good reception from the audience.”
Backstage after the show, Ms Creed was among a group of people asked by event organisers if they’d like to showcase designs at the next year’s show.
“Without any thought my hand just went up and I said ‘Me!’,” Ms Creed said.
“They just said ‘OK, see you next year with your collection’ and I thought ‘Holy heck, what have I done’ because I don’t come from a designer background and didn’t have any experience.
“I’ve always enjoyed clothes and dressing up and stuff like that and whenever our family would have dos we’d dress up with the hats and the gloves and the make-up and wigs, so I think it all comes from there.”
Ms Creed is now fundraising to pay registration fees for Milan Fashion Week and to help pay travel and accommodation costs in the Italian style capital.