Plus, the family health scare that inspired her latest work.
Apr 19, 2022 12:00pm
Julie Bishop’s name is as synonymous with fashion as it is with politics, and even four years after her political exit the 65-year-old knows how to let her style do the talking.
Though she’s no longer strutting through the House of Representatives in sequinned Rachel Gilbert gowns, fashion is still very much a part of the former Foreign Affairs Minster’s DNA.
“I am more relaxed about my style and perhaps dress more informally, as being out of the constant spotlight brings a different perspective,” she tells Now To Love exclusively.
On Instagram she regularly dons designer labels like Armani and Balmain, proving she still appreciates the power of a good outfit to set trends and spark social and political conversations.
“I prefer to describe fashion as an underappreciated form of communication that can send powerful although subtle messages,” she says. “It is also a significant economic driver in many nations.”
Julie certainly injected a splash of style and colour back into Australia’s government, but would she ever consider a return to politics?
“I had a most challenging and satisfying political career of over 20 years,” she concedes, before adding, “And that is more than enough!”
Even as the 2022 federal election approaches, the former Foreign Affairs Minister says she has no plans to engage in the political conversation during the campaign, though teases she “may undertake a media commentary role on election night”.
Rejecting a return to politics doesn’t mean Julie Bishop is ready to be silent, however.
It’s a project that hits close to home for the 65-year-old, as she tells us: “Both my two older sisters were diagnosed with ovarian cysts when they were young women.”
“Fortunately, their cysts proved to be benign and they recovered fully,” Julie adds, but for many women the diagnosis is bleak.
With vague symptoms and no early detection test, most women aren’t diagnosed until it’s too late; of the 70 per cent of women who are diagnosed in advanced stages, only 20 per cent will survive more than five years.
WATCH: Inside the 2018 Witchery White Shirt Campaign. Story continues after video.
Though both sisters have a clean bill of health now, Julie recognises that the danger is always there.
“Reach out to others for support, as there are family members, networks and organisations that can help,” the 65-year-old urges any Aussies living through what she or her sister experienced years ago.
“It is important to avoid carrying the emotions and responsibility in isolation.”
Julie explains that the “lack of general awareness” around ovarian cancer, as well as her family experiences, inspired her to become an ambassador for the Witchery campaign as it continues to promote the need for an early detection test.
For 14 years, the brand has raised money by selling a simple white shirt, which has always been a staple in Julie’s enviable wardrobe.
“A white shirt is a timeless and classic piece that transcends any short-lived fashion trend – a staple in any wardrobe,” she says.
And when you buy one of the Witchery shirts, there’s the bonus that 100 per cent of gross proceeds – “which is basically everything but the GST”, Julie explains – is donated to the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF).
“Many small steps can build to something significant and buying a white shirt means you are joining a larger community of support and concern for women, while also adding a classic item to the wardrobe,” Julie adds.
Though there’s still a sad lack of research and funding going into ovarian cancer in Australia, Julie says “honest and open discussions are the best way to break down any stigma” around the disease and other vital women’s health issues.
“Talking about women’s health issues is important to ensure we identify symptoms, seek medical advice, and ensure early detection then treatment,” she says.
“I am aware of the risks and I attend check-ups and tests recommended by my doctor – I make sure they are a priority and find the time.”
And if Julie Bishop can find the time for regular health checks, so can we all.
Julie Bishop is a 2022 Witchery White Shirt Campaign Ambassador. The White Shirt, designed in collaboration with Michael Lo Sordo, is available online and in Witchery stores from 19th April – 8th May.
100% of gross proceeds will be donated to the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation to raise funds for the research to develop an early detection test.