As the iconic supermodel of the 60s Veruschka strutted down the Giles Deacon SS’11 runway at the London Fashion Week, the 71-year old held her own against a long line of more youthful models. At the Madrid Fashion Week, designer Juan Duyos cast 60-something Spanish socialite Eloisa Bercero and three other models in their 60s, in his show.
Internationally these model castings have been labeled a coup. Closer home, we found that while a model well into her 40s or 50s is a far fetched idea, Indian designers are also too shy to experiment with younger girls! Industry insiders say it is the ‘older’ models, the ones who have strutted on almost every runway in the country for over a decade, who rule the roost here.
Models Nethra Raghuraman, 34, Carol Gracias, 32, Diandra Soares, 31, are still as popular as they were 10 years ago. “There is severe groupism in the industry. Designers tend to go gaga over some girls. They hang out with them, party with them and develop a sense of bonding which overrides their work ethic,” says regular fashion week make-up artist, Yatan Ahluwalia. But designer Gaurav Gupta begs to differ. “It’s not that we don’t give new girls a chance. But a lot of new girls are not up to the mark,” he says with a wave of his hand.
Internationally girls as young as 14 are scouted from malls, clubs, restaurants, and within months, turned into stellar models. So, why not in India? “The only way to ensure that new girls get a valid chance is to push for a stronger sense of professionalism in this industry. People need to think of this as a business, starting with industry insiders,” says Pankhuri Singh, Marketing Head of Elite Model Management, India. It seems like for the time being, anti-wrinkle cream will continue to be the Indian supermodels’ best friend.
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“There are many new talented girls who keep on coming in. But sadly they are often squashed by choreographers and coordinators, who replace them with their friends and favourites. The industry is guided emotionally more than by talent. Shows for Fashion Weeks here are as good as done for free! There is no competition here, anything goes. There is also a severe lack of training among models. Anyone can become a model here as long as you can do lip service.”
The hottest of them all?
To assess how hot the ruling crop of ‘older’ models really are, we asked choreographer, Harmeet Bajaj, fashion scribe, Varun Rana, and style guru Prasad Bidapa to tell us which of them are still making a mark and which ones aren’t so hot anymore.
Harmeet Bajaj: She did rule the ramp at one point. Now, that time is over.
Varun Rana: She did vanish for a while, but I think she's consciously trying to make a comeback.
Prasad Bidapa: Use her for another 20 years.
Bajaj: She might not be the oldest, but she surely is the oldest one who still gets regular work.
Rana: No other girl has perhaps been able to extend her life on ramp like her.
Bidapa: Girls like her are a rarity.
Bajaj: She's not in the best of shape now.
Rana: She's surely not as popular as she once was.
Bidapa: Age might not be on her side, but she sure knows how to reinvent herself, shaved head and all included!
Bajaj: Age has caught up a bit with her.
Rana: She is not matching the amount of work she did 5 years ago. Age, I guess, is just one of the reasons behind that.
Bidapa: Her body is still like what it used to be 10 years ago!