As a Gomeroi fashion designer, Colleen uses her talents to harness the spirit of her Gomeroi ancestors and revive Gomeroi Dreaming Stories through each design.
Her label, Buluuy Mirrii (Black Star in her Gamilaraay language) has been featured on international runways in Melbourne, New Zealand, Canada and New York Fashion Week in Spring and Fall 2017. This year she is off to the Cannes Film Festival and Paris Fashion Week, which are set to be a career highlight.
The label Buluuy Mirrii celebrates a range of Aboriginal talents. Commissioned Gomeroi artworks are transformed into fabric patterns by a Gomeroi graphic designer, printed on luxury fabrics and sewn into one-off garments. Her label, Buluuy Mirrii promotes and revives important aspects of Gomeroi culture in each runway show, allowing the international fashion audience to learn some of Gomeroi cultural richness through specially recorded Gomeroi soundtracks and voice overs which tell the stories behind each garments.
Colleen Tighe-Johnson is an Australian Aboriginal fashion designer who uses her talents to harness the spirit of her ancestors and revive Gomeroi Dreaming Stories through her label, Buluuy Mirrii (Black Star in her Gomeroi language).
Colleen’s work creates cultural story within her designs – unique commissioned Gomeroi artworks are printed onto luxury fabrics and used to design one-off garments showcased on her runways. Her models are drawn from the not-for-profit Buluuy Mirrii Youth Development program, taking young Aboriginal people from their home towns to the international stage.
The Label Aims For Social Development
Buluuy Mirrii also incorporates a social enterprise – the Buluuy Mirrii Youth Development Program which provides mentoring, cultural development, self-esteem and fashion industry training for Aboriginal youth in Tamworth and Moree.
Drawing on her education background and a deep understanding of her community, Colleen has been able to ensure that the Buluuy Mirrii Youth Development Program meets young people where they are at – providing mentors from across the community who engage them with life skills and cultural knowledge, within a program that culminates in fashion runways at a local level, instilling conﬁdence, pride and self-esteem in the participants.
The program has proved its success over 10 years of operation, diverting Aboriginal young people from making negative life choices and reducing the incidence of unemployment, drug and alcohol use, teen pregnancies and other risks. Moreover, a number of young local models have gone on to win Indigenous model search and to travel with Colleen to national and international runways.