Indian fashion industry has come of age. The hard work and dedication of the people involved is appreciable. Fashions fade but style is eternal so go ahead and read top stylish models who have defined and redefined fashion again and again.
10. Gauhar Khan :
Gauhar Khan, one of the top models from Pune, is probably known mostly for her critically acclaimed role in the Ranbir Kapoor starrer Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year. Apart from this, she has been seen on TV as a contestant on the dance-show Jhalak Dhikla Ja. Her infamous wardrobe malfunction at the Lakme Fashion Week a couple of years ago brought her into focus. Since then, she has come a long way from a model to a VJ to an actor and she wishes to have a career in films with meaningful, lead-oriented roles.
9. Carol Gracias :
Carol Gracias still looks fresh as a daisy with her youthful effervescence and guileless charm and it is hard for many to believe that this model from Bandra, Mumbai has had a career spanning over ten yeard now in the world of glitz and glamour. She won over the fashion fraternity with her catchy enthusiasm and determination which soon designers were vying for her to be in their shows.
Carol was thrust into the limelight after she won the Femina Elite Look of the Year in 1998 and soon had her first campaign with De Beers. What started off as a means to gain independence soon became a vocation which had her travelling to various locations for modelling assignments. Her lithe frame, exotic features, olive skin and the tremendous poise with which she carries herself has gained her respect and popularity in the industry. She has been called the “perfect clothes-horse” and has herself ackowledged that clothes hang well on skinny people. She is extremely impressionable and she has the potential to carry off any sort of garment with the right attitude.
Carol received a certain amount of bad press after a fiasco on the catwalk in terms of a wardrobe malfunction in 2006. Many accused her of trying to pull a cheap publicity gimmick and charged her and the Lakme India Fashion Week alongwith the designers for promoting obscenity. But the grace with which she handled the whole situation is truly commendable. She did not release any press interviews justifying herself but remained silent throughout and let the storm blow over. She won several hearts in the process. She no doubt suffered a great deal of embarrassment and humiliation but she did not let that dampen her spirit and carried on with a chutzpah worthy of an applause.
She has been seen on reality television when she appeared on Big Boss and Fear Factor-Khatron Ke Khiladi 2, and in cinemas in small roles- a cameo in Being Cyrus and in a music video for Bluffmaster. She was probably the most loved person on Big Boss for standing her ground against the often loud Rakhi Sawant. She is not averse to a future in television or movies but feels that unlike some of her contemporaries, she is not made to dance around trees or be someone’s ‘Maa’ or ‘Bahu’.
Her reservedness has at times been misinterpreted as arrogance but the people close to her will vouche that none of that is true. She has made friends in the industry but states pragmatically that not all can be one’s friends. She remains cordial with most and tries to maintain a low-profile.
8. Tupur Tapur Chatterjee :
Tupur and Tapur, the identical twins and the grand daughters of veteran film maker Hrishikesh Mukherjee, were exposed to the glamourous lifestyle of Mumbai from a very early age. They are named after Rabindranath Tagore’s poem “Brishti pore tupur-tapur” or “pitter-patter the rain falls”. They are probably the only supermodel twins in the fashion industry and also the most coveted. Tupur is older to Tapur by 12 minutes. Their portfolios are quite impressive and have done commercials for Titan Raga watches, Lakme and Park Avenue along with numerous other fashion features in magazines like Elle, Cosmopolitan and Femina. Even though they have been offered roles in films, acting is not their prerogative. These Bengali babes are not without brains; Tupur studied genetics from St. Xavier’s while Tapur is a commercial artist from Sophia College.
7. Nethra Raghuraman :
With a career in the glamour world spanning for around a decade, Nethra Raghuraman sure is going places. She got into it in the year 1997 when she won Look of the Year and the rest is history.
Primarily a model, she has appeared on television as well as the silver screen. She was recently seen on Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi, which she won, and has a few films such as Thakshak, Bhopal Express, Avgat, Inteqam, Tum Ho Na to her credit. She finished filming a show with National Geographic but maintains that the runway is her first love.
6. Nina Manuel :
Nina Manuel, from all over the world (she has been schooled in Bahrain, Kuwait and Trivandrum) first got recognised from the Sam Miguel ad as the sexy waitress. She came back to Mumbai to finish her graduation and was on the way to becoming a lawyer, when her mother one fine day asked her to participate in Femina Look of the Year contest in 1995, and there was no looking back after that. She has done a lot of ramp shows and modelling campaigns for Sam Miguel, Levi’s, Coke, Indian Express and Kodak and done shoots and music videos with Baba Sehgal, Remo and Anaida. She has diversified quite a bit and has hosted a couple of shows such as Late Night V and After Hrs on popular TV channels.
5. Sheetal Mallar :
Sheetal Mallar, 36, came into limelight after winning the Femina Look of the Year and Elite Look of the Year, both in 1994. This dusky beauty was discovered by photographer Gautam Rajadhyaksha for a shoot with Danabhai Jewellers. This was followed by many other campaigns such as LG Electronics, McDowells and Gold Flake and currently she is the face of Maybelline Cosmetics. She has retired from ramp modelling out of her own free will but continues to do ad campaigns.
4. Jesse Randhawa :
Jesse Randhawa, or Jasmeet Kaur Randhawa, 39, is a Sikh Jat from Mumbai who moved to Canada with her family at a young age. She came back to India to participate in the Femina Miss India in 1994, the same year in which Aishwarya Rai and Sushmita Sen won the title crowns. Even though she did not make it, she started receiving modelling offers and thereafter, her career in the showbiz jumpstarted. Her look was quite different from the typical Indian women models when she started in the 90s; the ones with the long hair, fair complexion and light eyes were usually preferred in those days. The designers were unaccustomed to Jesse’s trademark short hair and her initial years were spent in a struggle to find enough work to sustain herself. A lot has changed since her induction in the fashion industry and it can be very safely said that Jesse Randhawa indeed revamped the notion of beauty with her very modern androgynous look. She has been seen on the silver screen in films like Chot, Gulaal and Love Khichdi but is yet to make the full transition primarily due to her appearance and her refusal to wear wigs for a role combined with the fact that she is not comfortable with the idea of starring in Bollywood clichés. A furore broke out when, in 2006, Randhawa wore a see-through top for a fashion show. A more recent controversy was in 2009 when she accused Britney Spears of trying to steal her man, Sandeep Soparkkar, a choreographer of international fame, who she is now married to. In her free time, Jesse loves to dance and has a flair for Latin Ballroom.
3. Noyonika Chatterjee :
Also known as the Naomi Campbell of India, Noyonika Chatterjee is one of the earliest models who is still in the profession. She received her first modelling offer in 1988 and thereafter was flooded assignments. At a time when fair-skinned models were in demand, she was the one to break the stereotype, justly earning the title of ramp-queen.
Besides modelling, she has also trained beauty contestants, now Bollywood stars, such as Lara Dutta, Priyanka Chopra and Dia Mirza. She has also choreographed many beauty events.
2. Viveka Babaji :
This vivacious beauty, who passed away last year (2010) in June, hailed from Mauritius and came to be a known name in the fashion world after she won the Miss Mauritius in 1993 and represented her country in the Miss World same year. She was one of the contemporaries of supermodels such as Ujjwala Raut, Nethra Raghuraman, Carol Gracias, Mehr Jessia, Jesse Randhawa etc.
Viveka Babajee maintained a low profile tending to stick to her business and so not much is known about her personal life. But we do know that she had a fruitful career as a model including the runway, several music videos and print campaigns out of which the most popular one remains the Kamasutra ad. She also appeared in a B-grade movie Yeh Kaisi Mohabbat. She, however, realised that fashion is something she was good at and chose to stick to it. Later she diversified, trying her luck as a fashion choreographer and an event manager. She was the Director/Proprietor for Vibgyor Entertainment till the time of her death.
In her spare time she loved to pamper herself in MNG, Soul to Soul and Tres Mode. But she didn’t let the labels decide her choices and remained an avid flea market shopper. According to her, flea markets were a “treasure trove”. Viveka always said that she was not guided by the ever shifting fashion trends, her style being the evergreen classic.
Viveka was in the news a few years ago for dating Rohit Jugraj who, many reports claimed, was already married. Towards the very end of her life, she decided to steer clear of controversies and make her profession the driving force of her life.
1. Ujjwala Raut :
Ujjwala Raut, a quintissential model, dusky and tall with a face you would die for and a body you would kill to have, is one of those first few to represent not only Indian but the Asian modelling industry in the international market. She had a humble beginning in Mumbai, coming into the limelight in 1996 in the Femina Miss India Paegant at a young age of 17. She went on to captivate the global fashion scenario with her mysteriousness and enigmatic personality. She has been tagged as “the perfect model” by Anaita Shroff Adjania, the Fashion Director of Vogue India and Atul Kasbekar said about her-”one of the finest models we have produced in this country”. At 32, Ujjwala is at the peak of her career and plans on seizing the runway for a couple more years.
Not satisfied with a dynamic and hugely successful career in India, Ujjwala decided to move to Paris and then later New York to try her luck there. After a few years of struggle her breakthrough finally came along and soon she was walking for world renowned designers such as Roberto Cavalli, Diane von Furstenburg, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Victoria’s Secret, Cynthia Rowley, Tom Ford, Manuel Angaro, Angelo Tarazzi, Paco Rabanne, Claude Montana and Chanel among many others. She was also seen in the campaign for the cosmetic brand, Yves Saint-Laurent and stated that “it was huge deal for an Asian face to represent a cosmetic brand abroad” and that “it never happened in the past” especially since racism has always had a huge part to play almost everywhere. She has appeared in the covers of several magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire, Harpar’s Bazaar etc. Today, Ujjwala has a highly coveted portfolio and is a dream model of almost every designer.
On top of a successful runway profession, she has done prints, editorials and campaigns as well. Ujjwala says that she knew she was bad, the knowledge of which was extremely important for her improvement. What makes her unique according to Anaita Shroff Adjania is that she uses her length extremely well and to her best advantage, coupled with a strong work ethic which makes her the best. Her well-wishers in the industry have only praises for her claiming that she can pull off almost anything with her universal and highly adaptable nature.
In her personal life, Ujjwala married Craig Maxwell Sterry, a fashion model-turned-entrepreneur in the summer of 2004 in a quick ceremony in New York which was graced by stars like Iman and her singer husband, David Bowie and close model friends. She had a daughter soon after in 2005, Ksha. However, distance killed the match made in heaven when Sterry and Raut’s profession’s took them to different locations and in 2009 both the parties filed for a divorce following an ugly and a very public fight in Goa. Ujjwala has moved back to Mumbai with her daughter and is working from here now.
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