Internationally, even the biggest names in fashion, from Gisele Bundchen to Cindy Crawford gracefully bowed out of the business after their best years were behind them. Still, Delhi’s fashion week plays host to names like Noyonika Chatterjee and Joey Mathews, who look a little under the weather when walking alongside girls half their age.
“Most foreign models look older than their age, but Indian girls with their dark skin are lucky. If we keep our body and mind healthy, we can model up to the age of 35,” says model Tinu Verghis. “If you can be as fit and hot as Naomi Campbell, then there’s no age limit in the industry. But here, friendship matters more than looks or talent and women way past 35, with skin like Mumbai’s roads, are called supermodels,” she says, adding, “It’s a shame that younger and beautiful girls are bypassed to pamper the egos of a few obsolete people.”
Model-turned-VJ Nandini Vaid echoes, “Models should know when to bow out and move on. I quit ramp walking early, when I was 21. But this isn’t a 15-year profession.” Rumours abound that the reason many older faces get selected is because they use their influence with choreographers, make-up artistes and a few leading designers. “I’ve heard that a few make-up artistes and choreographers insist on getting these models in, even if they are not chosen by the board of selectors,” says a ramp walker who wishes to remain anonymous.
Former beauty queen Anna Bredmeyer, country head, brands, the Badasaab group, is shocked, saying, “Who’s calling the shots here? The show is for the designers and if they are happy with the older ones, it’s fine. But if these models are hogging the showstopper limelight because of clout, that’s not fair.”
Last season, Alpana of designer duo Alpana and Neeraj, had to drop some of the older models from their show, as they didn’t suit the kind of risque line being displayed. She says, “Our clothes aren’t for the faint-hearted and the younger models lend their energy to the garments. Having said that, last year, Binal (Trivedi) looked fantastic in our clothes. This year, we have Indrani and Sapna (Kumar) who’re from the older lot and they look beautiful and are so easy to work with.”
Sunil Sethi, President of the Fashion and Design Council of India which runs the Wills India Fashion Week, admits that requests were made to interchange models from the pools because of friendly equations with certain designers. “But we put our foot down and said no. As far as selection of these older models goes, we have a few designers and choreographers of repute on the selection committee and we trust their expertise,” he says.