• 17-year-old Cindy Rostron has graced the cover of Vogue and will make her runway debut at Australian Fashion Week. (Vogue/James Giles)Source: Vogue/James Giles
From bush runways to the cover of Vogue, 17-year-old Cindy Rostron is helping revolutionise the Australian fashion industry.
Rachael Knowles

13 May 2022 - 12:35 PM  UPDATED 13 May 2022 - 12:35 PM

Cindy Rostron's star is on the rise. 

At only 17 years old, the Bonunggu/Gardbam model has tens of thousands of TikTok followers, graced the cover of Vogue last month, and will make her runway debut at Australian Fashion Week on Friday.

The up-and-coming model remembers getting the call that started it all.

“I was screaming and so excited on that day. People were walking away crying and emotional because we all knew that this was like a revolution,” she told NITV.

“In the beginning, when we found out that Vogue wanted to work with me, I didn’t even know what Vogue was!

"Now I realise that it is really big, and it has made my career.”

Hailing from Maningrida Community in the Northern Territory, Ms Rostron featured on Vogue Australia's April cover alongside Blak fashion royalty Elaine George, Magnolia Maymuru and Charlee Fraser.

“I felt so proud and powerful with those Blak women beside me,” she said.

“We made history together that day, showing other Indigenous people out there, it’s not too late to follow your dream.”

It's a far cry from Ms Rostron's humble origins, which the rising star still holds dear. 

Following in the footsteps of family

Raised on Korlorbidahdah Outstation, Ms Rostron grew up speaking her grandparent's languages, Kune and Rembarrnga, and spent much of her early life out bush.

“Out bush is just freedom. I love going bushwalking, looking for bush tucker, being in nature, it’s just beautiful,” she said.

“Out bush... it feels like your ancestors are right there standing next to you. They never leave you alone, no matter where you go, they are there with you.”

Her father Victor Rostron is a Ranger, and has protected Country for over 30 years. He’s passed much of his knowledge to his children.

“He teaches us and encourages us, gives us his knowledge, takes us to our grandmother's Country,” she said.

"We share our culture and stories with anyone who wants to know it. We feel honoured to tell our stories.”

The family is an artistic one: her father and brothers are musicians, making up the band Wildfire Manwurrk Band and both her father and mother, Jay Jenny Jurrupula, are artists working in fashion.

“We are all a family of artists and this is what we do, we share our culture through our art, and now I also do it through fashion," she said.

“They really work hard to inspire people through art and always encourage me to follow my dream and share our culture and knowledge.”

From bush runways to Blak runways

Ms Rostron’s attraction to the modelling world started when she was young.

“When I was a child, me and my cousins always used to go bush and make dresses out of paperbark tree and leaves and bush string from pandanas trees,” she said.

“I was practising back then when I was young, we were walking on the rug barefoot. My cousins would be shouting and cheering pretending we were at a big show.

“We would practice how to speak English, we’d copy off the radio. We didn’t understand any words, we would just copy the English words and do acting.”

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Now, Ms Rostron is hitting the runway for the first time for the First Nations Fashion + Design (FNFD) closing ceremony at the Australian Fashion Week, an opportunity that began at Barunga Festival.

“Well, my Bundji Jessie Phillips took me to Barunga Festival. She always supported and believed in me and the young Yawk Yawk (girls) in Maningrida,” said Ms Rostron.

“We met with FNFD there, and did the Runway program in the bush.

"One year later, now I’m walking in the city at Australian Fashion Week. It’s so amazing and it’s so crazy that this is all happening!”

A TikTok star

Not only is the young star making it big in the fashion world, she’s taken Tik Tok by storm too, accumulating over 34,000 followers.

“I just love doing TikTok just for fun. I love doing acting, doing trends, dancing, singing, it’s fun and creative,” she said.

“I can’t believe how many people follow me and support me. I’m so thankful to all those followers.”

In the lead up to leaving home for her runway debut in Sydney, Ms Rostron shared a heartwarming story on the social media platform.

“My father and my friend told me that if you ever feel alone, it doesn’t mean you are alone. You always travel alone, but you don’t know what’s beside you and that’s your ancestors,” she said.

“Every time you go somewhere, your ancestors and your spirit will go with you and guide you."

Guided by the love of mob

With things moving quickly and more and more opportunities coming her way, Ms Rostron remains humble – always remembering where she comes from.

“My family always call and encourage me not to give up,” she said.

“One day I wanted to go home and my sister called, and I said ‘Sis, I want to come home'.

"My sister said 'Sis, you are there to do something important, don’t think too much, just remember you are there to finish something important for our family and our people.’

“I just don’t want to give up. I want to keep walking to where I am heading."

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