miss universe australia and asking permission

Australia, I have some news.

Miss Universe Australia’s National Costume this year was inspired by an “Aboriginal Dreaming sunset”:

Aboriginal Dreaming Sunset.

I was stunned to discover this costume, designed by Victorian designer Caitlin Holstock, an ‘indigenous inspired sunset,’ was granted permission from an elder of the Wurundgeri people.

Tegan Martin, Miss Australia, said “I really, really love this design and I think its [sic] so awesome that we are representing the first people in our country.”


The winning design, which was decided on by the public and Sunrise viewers, featured an ochre-coloured bodice and a long open-front skirt embellished with Aboriginal prints and clay beading.

Holstock, an emerging Victorian designer, was granted permission from the Wurundjeri clan to showcase the prints, originally painted by its last traditional elder William Barak in the 1800s.

“I wanted to bring this design back to Australia’s original roots, and I really drew inspiration from that,” Holstock said.

No Award, this is not at all where I expected this post to go. (I thought I’d link to Genevieve’s annual post and then go on a ramble about cultural appropriation) Don’t get me wrong, it’s still kind of ugly and awkward, but it’s not offensive and culturally appropriative, and includes respect and acknowledgement of our first peoples, and it’s also a little fun. I would like to know what granted permission means in this case, though. Did elder Murrundindi also approve the execution of the dress itself? Or just the use of the original painting (I’m struggling to work out which piece it is) as a print? But this is a great way to interact with Dreamtime things, rather than just stealing stuff and calling it appreciation. This is so unexpected. Australia, I’m momentarily proud of you.

Hold your breath, though. This weekend is Survival Day, so there’s a post for that soon, and we’ll go back to being disappointed in being Australians again.

3 thoughts on “miss universe australia and asking permission

  1. I’m really glad this dress isn’t in fact racially offensive, so I can get on with the important business of being horrified by … well, everything, but let’s start with those shoes!

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