Model Behaviour: Aicha Robertson

| October 8, 2013

Credit: Yolanda van Kimmenade

Credit: Yolanda van Kimmenade

Words by Kristoffer Reynoso

You can’t miss her – at 6ft 1”, Aicha Robertson is that towering, talkative type of trill we all loved in high school – the kid’s as much ghetto-fabulous as she is gal. But don’t mistake this blogger-come-model as just another up-and-coming; as the brains behind Brisbane’s burgeoning blog, The Fashion Heist, she also happens to be an official face for the highly anticipated Undress Brisbane runway show on 12 October. Trust me – this boo’s got determination and an addiction to ethnic food unlike any other person I’ve met. Moustache chilled with Aicha to talk fashion sustainability, shoe taping, and, surprisingly, Australian Idol.

It’s sunset by the time Aicha sits her butt down on my coat, protecting her bold black-and-white skirt from the damp lawn on which we converse. What can I say? Old fashioned chivalry never dies, and Aicha herself has already professed her love for me. The fact that she’s agreed to be interviewed on a patch of grass is indicative of her unpretentious nature (actually, she breaks into an Iggy Azalea rap as I’m getting comfortable), so I thought I’d start off with something a bit blasé. “Is that your natural hair colour? It’s beautiful!”

She cackles; it’s intoxicating. “No, this was for a hair show I did for this crazy Milan guy. He cut my hair freestyle and then he dyed it light brown. At the end of the day, it turned red.” As a self-described ‘model-blogger-writer-person’, 21-year-old Aicha would seem the type to walk runways for basically anything around BrisVegas, but she admits, “Oh my god, I’ve probably done four or five [shows], I haven’t done many. It was at the beginning of the year that I started doing that type of thing.”

Luckily for her, the year has seen Aicha accomplish things beyond her wildest expectations, thanks to a little behavioural tendency we call boredom. “I was really bored on Facebook one day, and then I found that Undress had a post for people to submit photos. So I submitted them – my photos were really dodge – and then I get an email from Holly, who worked for them, offering me an audition. So I get there, and I did a walk; a cool, fun smiley pose; a jump in the air; a bikini shot as well, and then I left, and it felt pretty good. And they were so friendly, I didn’t know if I was gonna get in. I think it was a couple of days later and they were like, ‘You are the face of Undress Brisbane’, along with James and Ben and Jaz, of course. And we’re all really fun.”

Last August, Edda Hamar, the Undress Brisbane director, was being interviewed by Moustache when we asked her about the process of becoming a face of the event. She looked for, “… someone with a strong look and confident walk. We need guts behind a pretty face, someone ready to be a sustainable fashion superhero.” And it’s that exact look of demure Zoolander-like ‘magnum’, feisty strut, and those guts behind her gregarious looks and charm that won Edda Hamar over with Aicha Robertson as a face of Australia’s biggest sustainable fashion show.

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“Undress Brisbane is a fashion show that raises awareness about sustainable fashion. When we say sustainable fashion, we look at designers who’ve gone ‘green’,” Aicha explains. “We think, ‘has this fashion design house used recycled water to wash their clothes with’ or ‘do they have solar panels in their studios?’ We look at the materials they’ve made their clothes from, whether it’s bamboo or organic cotton. It’s all about being friendly to our environment and responsible to our resources. Our gift bags all made of recycled jeans. It’s pretty exciting.”

Just recently, Undress’ Predress review show in September saw Aicha don a bright ensemble by ‘positive change’ label, One Nation, which unites African and Australian women through ethical trade. In turn, it generates sustainable employment and financial freedom for women in Africa. On a personal quest to become sustainable herself, Aicha donates her old apparel online or through nifty-thrifty means. “Ebay is my sustainable contribution. I’ll be on there, I recycle my clothes. If I don’t want it anymore, I’ll either sell it or give to Salvos, so definitely thrift shops – ” It’s at that precise moment that we burst into Macklemore’s overly-played tune, sit-grinding (if you could call it that) to that infamous saxophone melody. Someone please kill us.

Horrible taste in music aside, amid Aicha’s busy schedule promoting sustainability and catwalk training – sometimes supervised by Australia’s Next Top Model’s Caroline Austin – she also runs her online portfolio, The Fashion Heist: a collection of her modelling photographs, fashion week reviews, favourite designers (hello, Helmut Lang!), and ‘dress-ups’.

“I did a year of work with my friend, Felicity Shield, who interned for Liz Golding [stylist]. She was always talking about going to all these David Jones fashion shows, and I said ‘I really wanna go’. I remember going there, and I met Kimberly Gardner [stylist], and she is amazing! I can’t express how – she’s like the best stylist in the world. But Kimberly was the best person for me to meet for getting into the industry; she was so friendly. And then I got a gig for the opening show for Wintergarden [mall on Queen Street]. It was crazy spectacular. I was backstage dressing the models; I was so overwhelmed. They told me to tape shoes. I didn’t even know what that meant, but it’s when you tape the bottom on the heels so [the models] can give them back to the stores after the show.”

It would be small things like taping shoes that opened Aicha’s eyes to the industry, and gave her the inspiration to start her own blog with all its social media counterparts. “People seem to respond more to my Instagram, and that’s where I get most of my contacts. I just got contacted by Wittner shoes; they’re gonna put my post up on their website. Also, this brand called Billie Hilliard. They’re a U.S. jewellery brand, and they specialise in all sustainable and ethical jewellery. They do it all themselves, all recycled materials, and they’re sending me over some of their stock to promote.”

Proud of the loyal following it has picked up since its birth, Aicha says, “I see Fashion Heist as part of my fashion identity growth. I love meeting people and writing. I do see it going somewhere, hopefully getting me to fashion weeks around the world.” When it comes to her personal style, she declares she’s nuts. “I’m like a crazy person. Some days I’m like, ‘I wanna look really elegant,’ and then other times, it’s, ‘I just wanna dress like a street kid.’ My style’s an eclectic mix. Right now, I’m trying to find my niche, and my style icons are definitely Mary-Kate and Ashley. I love their simplicity, and I love their oversized-everything.”

But it’s not all glitz and glamour for this budding writer. Due to her current commitments, Aicha discloses that she has had to defer her journalism, popular music, and film and television degree in the process. “I love it, but I’m into this fashion thing.” Does she see herself in either industries? “Yep. Definitely. But my first love is song writing.”

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Like I said before, this beaming beauty stands out, and not just in audition lines of Australia’s Next Top Model, either (which she’s tried out for, a Google search confirms). Aicha has the height of a model, a face of a model, but a voice of a model? “Yes, I did have an audition with Australian Idol. That was so long ago. I was 15, naive, and stupid.”

Her intonations lead me to believe it didn’t pan out with the judges. “It was Marcia [Hines]! She hated me. I was nervous, so I stuffed up a little, and then I sang again, and they said, ‘Oh, that’s really good,’ and then they just started cutting into me. Marcia was like, ‘I see your Mum teaches you. She should have told you not to come on the show.’ I was emotionally distressed. But my other encounters with music have been good so far.”

Does this mean we’ll find Aicha on our radio waves soon? “I’ve been working on a thing that I can’t really discuss contractual-wise – but it’s singing; it’s a band idea.”

“You’ve got a few things happening,” I state, a matter-of-factly.

“Yeah. I don’t know what I’m doing half the time.”

Cheekily, I ask, “What’s your favourite food?”

“Oh my god, I love raw tuna, and soba noodles. My family’s from the islands of Nauru. I could have raw tuna for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I love it. It’s so tasty.”

It’s getting late by the time we mention food, so we decide to call it a night. “I’m going to this fashion show tonight in the Valley,” Aicha pipes. “I can take three people. I think there’s free wine. Wanna come?”

Wine for dinner? I love my job.

See Aicha pose with poise and purpose on Saturday October 12 for Undress Brisbane. Purchase tickets here.

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Category: FASHION, FEATURED, Uncategorized

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