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Beyond the Bale : March 2018
Asone of the current faces of French luxury retailer Louis Vuitton, the life of fashion model Atty Mitchell seems worlds away from her wool-growing roots. Originally from the Southern Highlands of NSW, Atty spent her weekends and school holidays in Bookham, two hours west in the Yass Valley, on ‘Kingslea’, the Merino wool-growing property of her grandmother Caroline Spittle, who is called Tink by Atty. Atty was scouted at the Robertson Show near her hometown, and since finishing high school in 2015, she has spent most of her time abroad, most recently modeling Louis Vuitton apparel in fashion magazines and shows from Paris to Kyoto. “It’s been incredible,” said Atty on a recent trip home. “This past year I have seen more of the world than in the rest of my entire life, and especially places that we wouldn’t normally go, like Palm Springs, Miami, Tokyo. It’s been amazing.” Despite the opportunities afforded her, Atty loves nothing more than coming home to Australia, and especially back to her grandmother’s farm. “Being overseas, I really miss my friends and my family, and so to come home and go to Tink’s and spend time on her farm is the best feeling in the world,” she said. “I’ve been visiting the farm since I was born, and from a young age my mum and Tink taught me how to do the farm work, from mustering to drenching and tagging. I’ve always helped out around the farm and I still do so whenever I get to visit. “I really enjoy putting on my ‘Blunnies’, workshirts and jeans, doing some ‘proper’ hard work. That’s not to say that modeling isn’t hard work, but I really enjoy getting stuck in and getting my hands dirty. “I love the thrill of my modeling career, but I’m lucky that I have the farm to visit where I can relax with Tink and reset to a more grounded pace of life. “The farm has been a big part of my life and I’ve always envisaged that I will eventually head back to living on the land.” Atty’s grandmother, who didn’t let being in her eighties stop her from winning the second shearing of the current Australian National Field Days Wether Trial in 2017, continues to serve as an inspiration for her high-achieving granddaughter. “Tink is an amazing woman – she still runs the property herself, is very hands-on and really loves her farm,” Atty said. “She has taught me so much, in the yards and around the farm. I used to ride horses when I was younger and she helped me a lot with that – in fact she only gave up horse riding herself a few years ago.” Caroline is the fourth generation of the family on the land, being the great granddaughter of Charles Mills of Uardry – so Merinos definitely run through her veins. “I have been at ‘Kingslea’ for nearly 50 years now and currently run 3,500 18-19 micron sheep – we’ve used Grogansworth rams for more than 30 years, with great success,” Caroline said. “Over the years we have worked towards improving not only the wool quality and fleece weight but also the conformation of the sheep. They are now a dual purpose sheep. We like progressing – there is no point going up and down on the one spot. “I love wool-growing. Well, it’s a lifestyle isn’t it? Living on the land is more competitive than it used to be and requires a lot more work and dedication. But wool is such a beautiful, natural and versatile product – and it’s the only life I have ever known.” And what does Caroline think of her granddaughter’s current career? “I think it’s fantastic,” she says. “It’s taken her so many places and taught her so much. Atty getsalotoutofitandI’msoproudofher.Of course, most of all, I love when she gets back to Kingslea and into the sheep yards!” Atty and her grandmother at home on the farm. PHOTOS: Rachael Lenehan Photography The opening spread of a six-page feature on Atty Mitchell in the latest edition of The Woolmark Company’s WOOL magazine for consumers, which focuses on women of wool. PHOTO: Georges Antoni Atty – at home in the woolshed and yards as she is on the fashion runway. PHOTOS: Rachael Lenehan Photography; top: Catwalking/Getty There are not many international fashion models who would feel at home doing a day’s hard work with sheep in the yards, but for model Atty Mitchell it’s a way of life she grew up with on her grandmother’s wool-growing property in NSW. OFF FARM 7
In the Shops - March 2018