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PIX: Catwalk bombshells battle it out at model auditions!

Last updated on: June 22, 2012 17:41 IST

PIX: Catwalk bombshells battle it out at model auditions!

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Divya Nair

On June 19, over 100 young models registered to audition for Lakme Fashion Week's Winter/Festive 2012 instalment to be held later this year. Here, they discuss how they manage to stay in top form and what it really takes to impress a tough judging panel in a matter of seconds.

Leading lifestyle brand Lakme auditions female models twice a year, for its summer and winter seasons.

The eligibility requirements are always the same -- you have to be over 5'7" tall and wear a sleeveless top and fitted shorts to participate. But is that all you need to become a good model and qualify for Lakme?

At the auditions held at the Grand Hyatt in Mumbai, several young girls registered to participate and try their luck. While most of them were new faces, there were some who were rejected the last time around and wanted to try their luck again.

Some had the looks, others had the gait, but all knew that only a handful will make it to the final round.

Excited and nervous, each of them tried their best to look fab and catwalk with confidence. But when you have to strut your stuff before the who's who of the Indian fashion world, you certainly need a lot more than looks to impress.

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Image: Modelling hopefuls line up outside the audition room to try out for Lakme's winter/festive season in Mumbai
Photographs: Abhishek Rane/Rediff.com
Tags: , PIX , Mumbai

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'Your walk has to be smooth, bouncy and confident'

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This season's expert panel comprised former Miss India Queenie Singh, fashion designer Aki Narula, photographer Joy Datta, model-turned-choreographer Anu Ahuja, makeup experts Kapil Bhalla and Clint Fernandes, head of Innovation Lakme Purnima Lamba and Director Fashion at IMG Reliance Anjana Sharma.

As the girls walked in one by one -- some smiling, others trying their best not to falter -- the audition room would come alive each time with the thumping beats of music.

Each time a model did something unusual, one of the judges would prod, 'Why don't you show us how much you enjoy the music?' 'Show us the bounce in your step.' 'Why don't you try that again here?', gesturing to the runway.

Rigorous as it may sound, Queenie Singh insists that to be a successful model, you should be able to 'perfect that bounce in your step'.

"Your walk has to be smooth, bouncy and confident. You must have attitude, but too much attitude will work to your disadvantage and you won't be selected," she cautioned.


Image: (LtoR)Judges Purnima Lamba, Kapil Bhalla, Anu Ahuja, Queenie Dhody, Anjana Sharma, Aki Narula, Clint Fernandes and Joy Datta
Photographs: Sahil Salvi

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'I could not complete college'

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Besides perfecting the right walk, models have to pay extra attention towards maintaining a perfect body.

Stella Suassua, who travelled all the way from Brazil for the auditions was glad that she went to the gym that morning.

"You have to eat right and be fit," she says. "Also, you must eat healthy; else you will pile on unnecessary weight and will have to work out extra when you have an assignment."

The 22-year-old has been modelling since she was 18 and regrets the fact that she could not complete her education because of her assignments.

"I travel a lot because of my work, so I could not complete college. I enjoy this, but academics are equally important," she adds, going on to emphasise that she encourages fellow models not to follow in her footsteps.

"I always tell them to complete their education alongside. You can't be a model all your life. You need some back-up when you plan to take a break from modelling."


Image: Stella Suassua (third from left) has been modelling since she was 18
Photographs: Abhishek Rane/Rediff.com

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'You get only a few seconds to impress'

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Another aspirant from Brazil, Karlla Agne insists that once you enter this profession, you have to be completely responsible.

She says taking care of one's skin is equally challenging for a model.

"You can dab some makeup on but when you have spotless skin, you have a big advantage. You have to work hard on your diet to flaunt flawless skin. You can't just eat whatever you like. You have to pick the right foods."

And besides working on your body, you also need oodles of self-confidence to hide minor flaws, nervousness and performance anxiety.

"You get only a few seconds to impress; you must be prepared to make an impact that lasts at least while you are there. You can't be nervous on the ramp, it reflects badly on you," adds Karlla.


Image: Aspirants await their turn outside the audition room
Photographs: Sahil Salvi

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'Every aspiring model must come here at least once'

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Much as we'd like to believe that being well-prepared will win you half the battle, Natasha Ramachandran, 22, from Pune is among the least prepared and most vivacious of the lot.

Ironically, she's recently graduated in fashion designing from the National Institute of Fashion Technology -- and yet here she is, hoping to make it as a model.

When asked about how she's prepared, she quips, "I just went shopping for a pair of shorts, wore this top and hopped to this venue. Frankly, I never thought I could be a model until I participated in a club event when I was in college and my work was appreciated."

"According to me, Lakme is a huge platform," Natasha continues. "Everyone who wants to make a career in modelling must come here at least once."


Image: Natasha Ramachandran auditions before the judges
Photographs: Abhishek Rane/Rediff.com

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'In India, people prefer working with European models'

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Many of the aspirants are graduates in engineering, literature and social sciences and look at modelling as a fun and promising alternate career that is lucrative while it lasts.

Twenty three-year-old Seep Taneja, who has been a radio jockey and dabbled in professional modelling (she tried out for the Kingfisher Calender in 2010) was also one of the finalists at the Miss Universe I Am She pageant two years ago.

Seep says she loves participating in beauty pageants because it has helped her hone her communication skills and interact with people from various countries.

"If you are willing to work hard, modelling is a great career to pursue. But it's a short-lived vocation, and as you grow older, you may have to find other means to supplement your income," she philosophises.

Sharing her experience, she says the challenge for Indian models is not to have apprehensions about their bodies and try to be more professional.

"In India, people prefer working with European models because they are very professional. At the same time, you go to Europe and they will tell you how much they admire Asian models. Be comfortable with your body. Be passionate about your dreams, but don't be obsessed," advises Taneja, who also holds a bachelor of arts degree from Guru Nanak Dev University, Punjab.


Image: Seep Taneja (extreme right) strikes a conversation with fellow aspirants while awaiting the results
Photographs: Sahil Salvi

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'You are expected to look your best no matter what'

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Nineteen-year-old Petra Psencikova from Slovakia is among the youngest aspirants at the auditions. After having travelled such a distance, the only complaint she has is lack of sleep.

"I haven't slept well last night. And my skin looked so pale this morning. But that is no excuse to make if you aspire to be a successful model. You are expected to look your best no matter what," she states.

Most girls agree that consistent practice and the hunger to learn and adapt is what differentiates the successful models from the average ones.


Image: Petra Psencikova, 19, from Slovakia
Photographs: Abhishek Rane/Rediff.com

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'I practiced walking up and down my apartment'

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South African native Jami Bulcraig, who has never tried out for a modelling assignment says she sought help from a friend to prepare for the Lakme audition.

"I practiced walking in front of the mirror for a few days. Later, I asked a friend to video record my movements so that I could see where I was going wrong.

I watched a few videos online and made amends. I did not have anyone to help me. Before coming here, I practiced walking up and down my apartment and I think that really helped," she says.


Image: South African model Jami Bulcraig says she recorded her movements on video to practice for the audition
Photographs: Abhishek Rane/Rediff.com

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'You don't always need a mentor or grooming expert'

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Sneha Upadhyay, 22, from Kolkata is also auditioning for the first time this year. She seeks inspiration from models who she says had no mentors to groom them when they started out. Sneha says it is important for young models to imbibe the art of self-learning.

"Some of the most famous Indian models like Deepti Gujral and (French model) Alma Durand for that matter, did not have too many inspirations. They learned on their own. Alma was only 15 when she participated in the Elite Model Look France contest in 2010."

"You don't always need a mentor or grooming expert. I think every model has features and qualities that are unique to her. You must know how to flaunt your best features on the ramp. No matter how much you admire someone, you must never ape them," counsels this English literature graduate from the University of Calcutta.

"Don't forget to smile," adds Jami. "It makes you look more beautiful."


Image: A model poses while judges Anjana Sharma (left) and Purnima Lamba (right) look on
Photographs: Abhishek Rane/Rediff.com

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'Tall Indian girls tend to slouch when they are walking'

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Professional Indian model Jyotpriya Sud from New Delhi enters the conversation at this point to share some wisdom with us.

One of the finalists at the Miss India 2011 pageant, she points out a common mistake most desi models make at the start of their careers -- "The trouble with tall girls from India is that they tend to slouch when they are walking. Probably, it is because most of us never pay attention to our body language until someone points it out to us.

And in India, being tall when most of your friends are shorter induces you to slouch unconsciously. But if you want to be a successful model, you have to learn to stretch your shoulders and walk straight when you are on the ramp."

Apparently, a good number of aspirants get knocked off because they can't carry themselves well. That's why professionals emphasise the adage 'practice makes you perfect'.

Still, there are times when things don't go as planned -- like bad hair days. Many of these young girls battle the fear of being rejected or ridiculed at some point.


Image: Aspirants await results in the waiting room at Grand Hyatt
Photographs: Abhishek Rane/Rediff.com

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'You will always find people who will discourage you'

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Parul Duggal, one of the finalists who could not make it through to the final round last year says rejection is an occupational hazard for a model and that the faster you learn to accept it as part of the business, the sooner you will find yourself on the path to success.

"Last year, the judges told me that I was good but that I did not have the relevant experience. So I did some shows, gained some experience and applied again this year," she states.

Also a fashion designer who graduated from the Pearl Academy of Fashion, Parul adds that it is important to take criticism positively.

"When you are rejected, you must not lose heart and spend time analysing what went wrong. You must listen to what experts have to say. If you are an aspiring model, you will always find people who will discourage you and tell you bad things about the world of fashion. At such times, you must listen to your heart and work towards your goal."


Image: Parul Duggal was rejected last time because she did not have relevant work experience
Photographs: Abhishek Rane/Rediff.com

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'If you are new, it is very likely that you will be misguided'

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Twenty two-year-old Shweta Dolly from Karnataka, who was among the finalists at the winter/festive auditions last year says rejection is a great way to learn from your mistakes and bounce back. She says learning is a never-ending process and you're bound to learn new things as you advance in your career.

"As a model you are required to wear different costumes and I have learnt that each garment has a style and flavour of its own and needs to be treated differently. Also, each garment and design demands a certain expression and as a model I have learnt to manipulate expressions to suit the mood of the design and the designer," she explains.

"More importantly, I have realised that while work experience is crucial, it is important to work with the right people, rather than with big brands or designers. The quality of work you do really matters," says Shweta, who holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Delhi University.

Speaking of quality, Jami shares an important piece of advice: It is not possible to run from pillar to post all the time. You have to spend time on preparation as well.

"My advice to young aspirants is to find a reliable agency and register with them. This will not only save you time, but also help you focus on your preparation. If you are new, it is very likely that you will be misguided and hence, investing in a good agent or agency may not be a bad idea," says the long-legged beauty, who's registered with Mumbai-based Purple Model Management.


Image: Finalists let their hair down outside the audition room
Photographs: Sahil Salvi

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Lakme's new flock

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When the auditions draw to an end and 108 lovely girls are done sashaying down the ramp, only seven make it through to the finals.

This year's finalists comprised four Indian and three international models, namely Jyotpriya Sood, Shweta Dolly, Parul Duggal and Natasha Ramachandran from India and Petra Psencikova, Jami Bulcraig and Stella Suassua from Slovakia, South Africa and Brazil respectively.

Along with the runway regulars, these young models will be presenting Lakme's winter/festive installment scheduled between August 3 and 7 this year. Will they hold their own or merge into the mass of tall gams and bored expressions? Only time will tell.


Image: (LtoR above)Judges Purnima Lamba, Kapil Bhalla, Anu Ahuja, Queenie Dhody, Anjana Sharma, Aki Narula, Clint Fernandes and Joy Datta; (LtoR below) finalists Jyotpriya Sood, Petra Psencikova, Jami Bulcraig, Shweta Dolly, Parul Duggal, Natasha Ramachandran and Stella Suassua who made the cut
Photographs: Sahil Salvi

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