Indigenous Australian Models Introduced To New York Fashion Week, Meet Fashion Icon Donna Karan, Receive Tips From Victoria’s Secret Angels Karlie Kloss And Erin Heatherton, Walk Their First Fashion Week Runway Show

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IF Foundation, Fashion Designer Ruth Tarvydas, Atlas Pearls and Perfumes, and Russell James’ Nomad Two Worlds Collaborate to Provide the “Experience Of A Lifetime”

“It’s been incredible,” said Lisa-Marie Rodd.

21-year-old Jahlana Roe and 17-year-old Lisa-Marie Rodd, two young and aspiring Indigenous Australian models, were introduced to New York Fashion Week in grand style this past weekend. Through an initiative of Western Australia-based IF Foundation and a series of opportunities arranged by internationally acclaimed photographer Russell James and his Nomad Two Worlds company, the two met up with fashion icon Donna Karan, got runway tips from Victoria’s Secret Angels Karlie Kloss and Erin Heatherton, and walked the runway in Perth designer Ruth Tarvydas’ New York fashion show.

Roe, a Yawaru, Karrajarri, Bard woman from Broome, WA with plans to become an engineer, and Rodd, a young Noongar, Banjima woman from Roebourne, WA who plans to be a nurse, are part of the Roebourne Girls FX Academy. The New York experience was part of the Academy’s “Pilbara to the Big Apple” initiative, funded by the IF Foundation. The initiative is designed to build strong independent women with a voice in the community, today’s role models and tomorrow’s leaders. The experience is about preparing them to return to their respective communities and grow as role models, providing hope and inspirational to many young women across the Pilbara.

The experience was also part of Tarvydas’ Indigenous Immersion Program.

James learned of the girls’ impending journey through Nomad Two Worlds’ fragrance and pearl products partner, Atlas Pearls and Perfumes, who were sponsors of the Tarvydas show. He immediately reached out to Kloss and Heatherton to give the first time models pointers, and arranged for them to meet Donna Karan at her Urban Zen studios as well as backstage at the DKNY fashion show. At an additional stop at Victoria’s Secret midtown Manhattan headquarters, the girls got an inside look at the business of fashion and chatted with CEO and President of Victoria’s Secret Megabrand & Intimate Apparel Sharen Turney.

“It’s been incredible,” said Lisa-Marie Rodd, “my first time out of Australia and I’m here in New York City. Just being exposed to these amazingly successful women has really opened my eyes.”

“It just shows that no matter how remote and area you come from, or whatever challenges you might face in life, you really can achieve anything you want to achieve. Dreams can come true,” said Roe.

The girls were accompanied to New York by Banjima community elder Kaye “Nanna Kaye” Jones, and Fiona White-Hartig, founder of IF Foundation’s girl’s academy and President of the Shire of Roebourne, Western Australia.

Established in 2011, the IF Foundation (originally The Luke Adams Foundation) implements and facilitates programs to shape the future of young West Australians and to create stable communities where violence is not perceived as either acceptable or necessary. Understanding the strong tie between preventing anti-social behaviour, substance abuse and interpersonal violence and positive self-esteem, IF supports using education and the arts as a platform to address these issues, developing today’s young community leaders and tomorrow’s role models.

Nomad Two Worlds began as a steeply messaged, fine art collaboration project between internationally successful art and fashion photographer Russell James and Australian Indigenous artists. It has since expanded into additional cultural collaborations worldwide and evolved into a socially responsible global business whose mission is to collaborate with Indigenous artists, and artisans from marginalized communities, to create culturally relevant contemporary art and consumer products.

Tarvydas is an Australian based label that has been making headlines since its inception in 1970. Pioneering the Australian fashion industry as the first label to export outside Australia, Ruth Tarvydas remains CEO and Head Designer at Tarvydas.


Brendan Parker, CEO

Sheri Howell, CMO

Rachel Cook, PR


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Sheri Howell
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