PIX: Hotties to look out for at the Lakme Fashion Week
Hotties from Brazil to Bhopal lined up at the auditions for Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai. We speak to those who made the cut and others who didn't.
It is a quiet mid-week afternoon in Mumbai's Grand Hyatt Hotel. The lobby has the usual air of hushed and formal conversations and a retinue of blue and black suits.
At the basement level though, the scene is quite different. Leggy girls, in figure-hugging hot pants and micro miniskirts, are parading around casually. A bunch of corporate execs, who have just stepped out of a seminar for lunch, are startled by the interesting landscape. The more curious ones crossover to check out the scene to ensure that what they are seeing isn't a mirage. After all how often do you see sexy women in hot pants in your office?
We are at the Lakme Fashion Week auditions; a bi-annual affair that involves a search for fresh faces to walk the LFW ramp every new season.
A little less than 70 young girls -- some of them firangs -- have queued up at the registration desk. All of them are hoping to make it and walk for some of the most reputed designers in the country in September.
The panel of judges, who will decide who ise good enough, include fashion designers Narendra Kumar, Monisha Jaisingh, supermodel Sheetal Mallar, show director Marc Robinson, ace photographer Farrokh Chothia, editor-in-chief of Elle Magazine Nonita Kalra and vice president & head of fashion, IMG, India Sujal Shah.
Kumar and Shah, both categorically underlined that anorexic girls were sent packing. "We were looking at women with good body proportion, height and great complexion. Over the years we are used to looking at the same models. So like always, we selected women who have a distinct personality and an element of freshness to them." Kumar said adding, "The four models we've chosen are extremely confident and have great persona. They're sure of themselves and have a great walk. It was encouraging to find a dentist amongst the final winners.
Sujal Shah stressed that poise, great levels of fitness and a minimum height of 172 cm were the only basic requirements they were looking for and that they stuck strictly to this criteria while selecting the winners.
Abhishek Mande spoke to the winners who made it to the final four, as well as to some of the contenders, who were eliminated in the final rounds, and gets a feel of the aspirations of these gritty young woman who journey to Bombay to try their luck on its ramps.
Image: The final four winners (L-R) Anuradha Nayudu, Anjali Raut, Reyna Leyva and Marcela Rodrigues
Photographs: Genesis Burson-Marsteller PR
This Nagpur model is also a dentist!
Anuradha Nayudu, sits in a corner, oblivious of the bustle around her. She has the look of someone who has just been relieved of a huge burden. Nayudu is cherishing a moment she possibly thought she'd never see.
The 25-year-old model from Nagpur is among the 63 girls who've come from across the country to try their luck at the Lakme Fashion Week auditions in Mumbai.
At the end of over four long, nail-biting hours, Nayudu is introduced to the media as one of the four 'fresh faces', models who will get the chance to walk the ramp come September at the Lakme Fashion Week.
She poses for a round of photographs with the judges and her fellow competitors. While the others are busy giving out interviews, Nayudu takes time out to savour the victory. When you congratulate her, "Thank you" is all she can get out in response. After some time, she manages to string together a sentence: "I cannot believe this!"
Anuradha Nayudu's success is arguably sweeter than that of the other three winners -- one of them is Anjali Raut, model Alecia Raut's sister, the other two are international models who came to this audition with some amount of global modelling experience under their belts.
Nayudu on the other hand comes from a smaller Indian city -- Nagpur to be precise. She's a dentist by profession (yes!) and has been practising under a senior dentist in her town.
Advice on how to walk and how to shape her career has come from all quarters -- including her patients -- except one.
Nayudu has lost both her parents. Her father died of cardiac arrest a few years ago and more recently she lost her mother to kidney failure.
Sitting in the corner you see her sending out a silent prayer, perhaps remembering her parents and looking forward to a new beginning.
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani and Sanjay Sawant
Video: Hitesh Harisinghani
Image: Anuradha Nayudu
'Modelling was my destiny'
If you happen to be model Alecia Raut's sister walking the ramp is perhaps the obvious career choice for you. Anjali Raut corrects you: "It wasn't a choice actually. Modelling was my destiny."
The similarity between the Raut sisters is striking -- the face, the skin, the features all remind you of the Sr Ms Raut. [Watch Alecia's video to see the similarities]
While Anjali Raut has participated in Channel V's Get Gorgeous show as well as Femina Miss India pageant, she received her first lessons in modelling from her sister.
"She taught me the basics of walking the ramp but the real lessons came from (model) Diandra Soares who was my mentor on Get Gorgeous," she says.
Raut made it to the final five on the show, then participated in Miss India before walking the ramp for Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in Delhi and other regional fashion weeks across the country.
She says, "I never wanted to be a model but when I got into it, I realised I belonged here. It helped that Alecia was here before (Alecia is now the mum of a toddler) so she led me to the right people. But after that I was on my own. I had to create my individual market with sheer perseverance."
Raut tells you that this isn't the first time she's queued up for an audition for LFW. "I didn't make it earlier," she says "But my consistency and perseverance has finally paid off. (The fact that I am selected this time around) has not sunk in yet."
Tips for aspiring models:
- Exercise and stay fit. It's important to have a good body.
- Always stay down to earth -- you might be a top model today but never know where you will be tomorrow
- Observe your seniors. I've learnt much from watching Candice Pinto and Aanchal Kumar.
- Be yourself and carve out your identity. Individuality and personal style are two most important things in the business.
Image: Anjali Raut
'You get to wear saris in India!'
When we met up with Marcela Rodrigues, after her name was announced amongst the winners of the audition, the Brazilian model made no attempt to hide her excitement.
Rodrigues has been modelling back in Brazil for the last four years and came to India simply because she 'wanted to be part of this amazing culture'.
That was two months ago.
Today she has done a handful of commercials and single fashion show where she had to wear a sari. "I got to wear a sari here!" she tells you all excited, "I've never worn a sari before! It was challenging "
In the months she's lived in India, Rodrigues been featured in commericals for Coke, Himalaya Shampoo, Scooty and Dominos Pizza.
She has also signed a contract with a modelling agency and plans to stick around in the country for the next couple of months.
"I like to travel a lot and I like to model. So far it's been good so maybe I'll come back next year again to work here!"
Image: Marcela Rodrigues
'When I came here I didn't speak very good English'
Three years into her medical college, Aeshra Patel realised her calling lay elsewhere. So she packed her bags and came to Mumbai to pursue her dream of becoming an actress.
Patel comes from a small village called Kavitha in Gujarat and has been modelling for the last three years. Her parents are farmers and live a quiet life there. Patel meanwhile came second in the Ford Supermodel contest and has participated in Femina Miss India.
She tells you that she visits her parents as often as she can and that she wouldn't have been here had it not been for their support.
Aeshra Patel stands out from among the rest. She may not be as polished as half the other girls in the room but you can tell she's someone who has the drive to make it somewhere.
"When I came here I didn't speak very good English. But I am working on it."
Patel's first day in Mumbai wasn't exactly pleasant. She says she lived in "some rickshaw drivers' colony where there were five people sleeping in one room. I couldn't sleep that night. But it was a great experience."
Does she have any advice for young girls, like herself, who have come from small towns to make it in bigger cities as models? "It doesn't matter where you come from but where you can be. I come from a small village but I am competing against girls from big metros. You simply need to have the desire to give it your best shot."
Patel didn't make it to the top four but it doesn't seem to bother her much. She strides away, waving a goodbye to her newfound model friends wishing them luck.
Image: Aeshra Patel
She came to India in search of spirituality
Like most firangs who land on our shores Daniela Faccinelli, also from Brazil, came in search of peace and spirituality. She has been here for a month and a half and says she has been enjoying every single day here.
Faccinelli practices yoga every morning and says she's beginning to feel at peace with herself.
Work, she says, "Just came along."
Daniela Faccinelli has modelled for the last ten years, since the time she signed up with Ford Models back home in Brazil.
When she isn't walking the ramp or shooting for commercials the young model loves to travel, shoot pictures and paint.
"My father is a painter and he taught me how to draw and take pictures. After I finished college, I decided to backpack my way across Europe. I came here partly in search of spirituality and partly for work."
Currently under a three-month contract with Inega Modelling Agency, she says she would love to stay on if more work comes her way.
Faccinelli didn't make the cut at the auditions.
How she stays fit:
- Hits the gym four times a week and practices yoga every morning
- Eats only vegetarian food -- sufficient to keep her energy levels high and not make her look anorexic
- Avoid late night snacks and eat at right times.
Image: Daniela Faccinelli
'Stay away from drugs and alcohol'
At first glance, Reyna Leyva looks Indian. It's when she starts to speak you realise she isn't.
Mexican-born, she arrived in India a month ago to continue her modelling career in another country.
She has already done a couple of publicity stills and an editorial shoot for a fashion magazine. And now Leyva will be one of the four fresh faces to walk the ramp at LFW.
"I was considering visiting a few other countries but now I am glad I chose India!" she says, adding that she's quite proud of herself for being chosen to walk the ramp during LFW.
Leyva plans to be in India for the next six months and is hoping to get more work because 'I look like an Indian'.
Tips to aspiring models:
- You must workout and stay fit
- Know what you want from yourself and the modelling business
- You need to be strong because it is a dangerous place. There are good parties and good people but there's also alcohol and drugs.
Image: Reyna Leyva
'I'm proud to say I'm from Bhopal
Among the growing number of small-town models descending upon big city ramps is Parul Duggal, a 20-something from Bhopal.
"I am not ashamed of saying that I come from a small town," she tells you. "In fact I feel proud of the fact that I can easily mix around with big city people and not feel uncomfortable about it."
Duggal says that the shift from her hometown to Delhi ,where she has been studying fashion designing, was not very difficult because of the people who she came across. "Everyone was nice to me and supportive."
Also standing by her were her parents -- her dad is a businessman -- whose only condition was that she complete her graduation.
"Modelling is not a career that has a lot of shelf life. You have to think of life beyond it. So dad insisted that I graduate and then do what I pleased."
Having done a few shows in Delhi, Duggal was eyeing the Lakme Fashion Week ramp but couldn't make it to the final four. But she isn't disappointed. She'll continue looking for work; perhaps participate in Femina Miss India too next year,
She says, "I've been in the fashion industry and I like to make an individual fashion statement. I like to be well turned out and who I am. Despite having moved from a small town to a big city I haven't changed much."
Tips for young women and men who come from small towns
- Do not become a person you are not.
- Don't run behind fashion blindly -- create your individual style.
- Do not be ashamed of your small town roots.
Image: Parul Duggal