Being on the cover of Vogue magazine has always been the dream for Kalkadoon sisters Dale Bruce, Cheryl Perez, Glenda McCulloch and Jaunita Doyle.
“There was an Instagram filter where you could put yourself on the cover of Vogue and we would always play around with it and joke,” Glenda said.
“Since forever — that’s how long it’s been our dream. We’ve always wanted to do something with clothes.”
Just months after launching their fashion label Myrrdah, the sisters pried open the glossy pages of Vogue’s 2022 May issue to see their designs featured in the main spread.
“I just think it’s ridiculous,” Glenda said.
“We can’t believe how quickly this has all happened. This is our first crack at anything fashion and to start off our label by featuring in one of the biggest fashion magazines in the country … it’s mind blowing.”
The sisters’ success didn’t stop there.
This week, they will watch their designs walk down the runway at Australian Fashion Week in Sydney.
“I mean, we must be doing something right,” Glenda said.
“I just can’t believe how far we’ve come.”
Dazzling from the dust
As descendants of the Kalkatunga tribe, the red-dirt land of Mount Isa, Queensland, has always been an important part of the sisters’ lives and something that feeds their creativity.
Their journey to fashion design began with their love of art.
In 2019, Glenda founded Cungelella Art to share her culture with the rest of the world.
“We’ve always painted. Our parents, our uncles and aunties always went bush and painted artefacts,” she said.
“When the Black Lives Matter movement reached Australia, the interest in our art just skyrocketed.”
It was their mum who inspired them to make the leap into fashion.
“She showed us how to pick which artworks would do well on fabric.”
So in 2020, the sisters launched Myrrdah, named in honour of their great great grandmother of the same name.
Production in a pandemic
Starting a fashion label during a lockdown wasn’t easy, the sisters said.
“We couldn’t actually visit Melbourne where our designs were being processed onto fabric, so we had to collaborate through Pinterest boards and text messages to actually produce the pieces for Vogue and [fashion week],” Jaunita said.
Some preconceived assumptions about the glamour of the fashion world were certainly quashed.
“We’re usually working at 11 o’clock at night. The kids are still awake running around, fighting around us as we’re drinking tea.”
When they watch their custom pieces float down the runway this week, it will be the first time they will see their work up close.
“We haven’t actually touched the fabric yet,” Jaunita said.
Regardless, the sisters aren’t letting anything stop them from launching their debut collection this month.
But they say customers will have to beat their mum to some of the prized pieces.
“We’ve told her the collection is quite limited but she’s already claimed she’s getting her hands on some of the pieces, so good luck to anyone going up against her,” Jaunita laughed.
Glenda said it would be an emotional experience.
“All our pieces are a representation of Mount Isa and our homeland. It’s the story of the country out here,” she said.