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EXCLUSIVE PICS: Backstage at Lakme Fashion Week!

Last updated on: March 4, 2012 12:58 IST

EXCLUSIVE PICS: Backstage at Lakme Fashion Week!

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Photographer Dominic Xavier and reporter Avni Mehrotra offer a glimpse into what models do backstage in between walking the ramp.

What lies beneath the fantastic bodies and ravishing faces are just a bunch of hard working girls who are just out there to work as professionals, they find out.

Chaos, hushed whispers, nervous designers and exasperated helpers, all surrounded by some of the prettiest faces – Indian and foreign -- is what you come across on stepping backstage at the Lakme Fashion Week, Summer 2012. Designer Priyadarishini Rao's 'Mineral' is lined up next.

The designer is nervous, the models at ease.

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Photographs: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

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The tension and camaraderie backstage is just like any other workplace; the only difference: lot of make-up and good clothes.

Unlike other green rooms, the one at Source, Hyatt exudes elegance and grace. The evening snacks are being served. So what are oils and carbs doing near these pencil thin ladies? Much to our astonishment, we find some of finest bodies of the world enjoying a hearty snack without any issues and hassles.

So how do these ladies have such amazing figures?


Photographs: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
Tags: Hyatt

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Model Sucheta Sharma says, "I eat everything which I have to, and the only constant I maintain is working-out daily. Even if there's an 8 am flight to catch, I hit the gym at 5. But working out for at least half an hour daily is what works for me."

While a few models are lined for Priyadarshini Rao's show, other models are busy with their make-up. With too much make-up and chemicals, we wonder the skin regime they follow.

Model Pia Trivedi explains, "For me, bare minimum is the mantra as I avoid using too much make-up on and off-stage. I ensure that my face is regularly cleansed and moisturised instead of indulging in any skin therapy or regime"


Photographs: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

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Though we can hear discussions on constant flying and living out of a backpack, there is no sign of complaint from the model's side. Does that mean they enjoy the stress? Model Candice Pinto answers, "After so many shows, it isn't stressful for you any longer. With every new fashion week, there are new designers, new collections, new models to which we all look forward to. It never gets mundane for us."

Coming back to Priyadarshini's show, her models are lined backstage ready to hit the ramp. We observe Alecia Raut taking a walk. Getting her final touches of make-up done, the model hits the ramp, takes a walk and gracefully returns backstage only to be hushed back into the greenroom to don a new set of accessories. With exactly 20 seconds in hand, there is a finesse with which she and her helper achieve the task.


Photographs: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

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EXCLUSIVE PICS: Backstage at Lakme Fashion Week!

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On observing furthermore, we infer that more than the models, it is the make-up artists and helpers who lead a stressed life. Kapil Bhalla, who has been a part to this industry for over four years, explains, "The challenge of this job is to transform the same girls to look different for every new show without repeating any pattern.

While for some designer the make-up is extremely loud, the immediate next designer may want a very subtle look. We have to not just work on their faces, but also hair and accessories. Right from the colour of the eyelashes to the nail polish, everything from scratch needs to be changed." He further adds that the whole process is very systematic with everything being on paper. "Make-up is the most challenging task in the fashion industry.

Hence proper coordination and training is extremely important. You just don't need enough experience but should also deliver exactly what a designer wants. That is where the thrill lies", he concludes.


Photographs: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

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Apart from just make-up artists, there are music choreographers, logistics and other backstage crew that avoids any glitches during the 20 minutes of the show. The lights have to go with the theme, the beat of the background score should sync with the pace of the model's walk. For them it is not just some ladies wearing good clothes walking the ramp. For them it is an ensemble as a whole which needs to be created and maintained.

So are the green rooms, all about make-ups, retouches, frenzied hairdressers and models with faces as stoic as they are on the ramp? Rather, it is quite the contrary. Model Soni Kaur explains, "Once the show is over we get around 2 to 3 hours before the next show. Though the make-up and rehearsals begin, we have a good amount of 30 to 45 minutes in hand to just relax and chill for a while."


Photographs: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
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So, is the 'catching up' done with people outside the backstage walls or with their fellow models? Which brings us to the controversial question, "Can two models be friends"? To our surprise, all the models including the more experienced ones to the relatively new ones, answered in the affirmative.

Model Candice Pinto says, "People should come backstage and see our camaraderie and friendship. There is competition of course but it doesn't come in way of our equation with each other."

Model Sucheta Sharma in fact goes one step ahead to tell us that she has her best friends in the industry. "You cannot survive without having friends in the same industry. All of us are extremely cordial and close to each other whenever we meet. Over the years you obviously develop a strong bond with each other. Rather I trust my friends from the industry to be there with me whenever I need them."


Photographs: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

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After hours of rehearsals, changing clothes and make-up all throughout the day, the excitements of each model knows no bounds when the show concludes and they walk off stage.

Brazilian model Gabriele Bertante explains: "More than just being relieved, we are happy when all the hard work pays off. Every time you walk off the stage, it not only feels overwhelming but also gives you different kind of thrill altogether."

When asked whether the same process gets monotonous for them, none of the models agreed to it. Model Candice Pinto even states, "As every though, every season is new, you can't generalise anyone's piece of work. We have different make-ups, different clothes, different styles every season.

Hence the word boredom never comes into the picture. More than that, the high we experience after the show is over just makes up for everything and pushes you to strive for more."


Photographs: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

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Most importantly, are models given their due in this industry which is supposedly 'dominated' by them? Model Sucheta Sharma confidently confirms, "Of course. The reason why I love being a part of this industry is because I am my own boss. I decide whom to work with and whom to not. I can choose my own clients and designers whom I will deal with. If there is someone I feel isn't giving me the proper due I deserve as a model, I have every right to say no to him and work with someone else."

The poise with which they perform the simplest of the actions makes us wonder if they always wanted to be a part of this industry. To which a unanimously affirmative reply came. Bertante shares her experience, "Two years back when I came to India, I was scared initially. But something about this industry draws you towards it and you start enjoying the work you do. Once that happens, there is no looking back."


Photographs: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

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So is stress constantly a part of their work or are they used to it by now. Model Soni Kaur says, "Its like any other industry. Of course we have our days when we are running between shows and working round the clock, but most of the fashion weeks maintain proper schedules and timings. After every show we have more than enough time to relax, go for a smoke, eat or simply laze around."


Photographs: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
Tags: Soni Kaur

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One experience backstage is a complete eye-opener to explore this world beyond the keyhole perspective. What lies beneath the fantastic bodies and ravishing faces are just a bunch of hard-working girls who are just out here to work. There is no air of attitude while dealing with make-up men, hairdressers or any other backstage crew. Their equation with each other is surprising yet delighting to see at the same time. From sharing a joke to sharing a meal, the models help each other with their clothes and make-up creating a very healthy work culture.

As model Sucheta Sharma concludes, "At the end of the day, we are all individuals and human beings who need people around us. And just like every human being needs companions and friends, so do we."


Photographs: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

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