According to model-turned-choreographer Marc Robinson, the phenomenon of male models being treated as inferior to their female colleagues is new. “When I was modelling, we received equal treatment, if not better. It depends on the way you market yourself.”
Robinson believes that since most male models have their eyes set on Bollywood, they lack focus to make it big in the fashion world. But Vikram Raizada, Head of Fashion, IMG India and panel member for the Lakme Fashion Week model auditions says, “Menswear shows have increased.. Lakme Fashion Week introduced a menswear day for which we hired two entire groups of models instead of the standard handful.”
On the subject of foreign models stealing the limelight, Raizada believes that having western models on ramps helps designers to connect with a western audience.
“International audiences want to see the designs on western silhouettes, so we need a few foreign models.” he explains. “But I also believe a campaign meant for local audiences should use Indian faces.” Designer Narendra Kumar offers another view. “Most Indian models don’t know how to wear a jacket because it’s not something they’ve grown up wearing. Foreign models wear these western garments with ease.”
Lights, camera, attitude
Kumar explains that designers are not looking for hangers but for models who can offer the outfit a little sass. “The garments have a story and need to be worn with the right attitude. Training schools for our models may solve the problem.”
Robinson is vocal in his displeasure surrounding the thirst for foreign skin. “The caliber of foreigners who audition doesn’t match local talent. Most come on holiday and decide to make a quick buck by walking the ramp. Filmstars and cricketers have already stolen most male modelling assignments. Where is the credibility in using foreign models.”