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Why this Kazakh model will never wear a bikini

By Tista Sengupta
August 27, 2016 12:40 IST
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"Although we are kind of open Muslims, I don't want to show my body.
"Only if we feel, we can wear a hijab, niquab, etc. But in the Kazakh culture, we don't have a strict dress code as such. We wear long dresses some times to cover us up."

Kazakh model Alina Tazhbayeva tells's Tista Sengupta about her secret modelling clause.

IMAGE: When she was young, Alina Tazhbayeva wanted to pursue a career either in law or acting. All photographs: Alina Tazhbayeva/Instagram.

She's hot as fire. She smart and witty.

The 5' 9" model is a woman of principles and she strictly abides by them. No matter what, she would never compromise on them. And one them is that she will never wear a bikini.

Strong and independent, 20-year old model Alina Tazhbayeva from Kazakhstan has travelled to India to impress us with her beauty and admirable gait on the runway.

Scroll down to know more about her.

Is this your first time at Lakme?

It's my second season at Lakme Fashion Week. Last season which happened in March 2016, I was walking at the Jabong stage. This time I am walking for designers in the main show area.

Have you worked with any Indian brands or fashion shows apart from LFW?

I did a fashion show for brand Raymond. And recently, I went for a show in Bengaluru, although I don't remember the name.

I have also done few television commercials like Bangaras Multani facewash, Set Wet hair gel with Aditya Roy Kapoor, Addiction deodorant and Fair & Lovely.

IMAGE: Alina was in school when she bagged her first modelling contract.

How did your modelling career start?

I started modelling when I was 16 in my own country.

I was always tall and skinny. Once a casting company had come to my city and they were looking for a new face.

They wanted someone who had a mix of European and Asian features. And I think I look a bit Asian.

I was in school then. I planned to go for it with a friend, but she ditched me at the last minute, so I went alone.

When I reached, everyone had so much attitude and were so confident.  I was confident too, but for me it was more fun.

I didn't prepare myself for it. I wasn't even wearing high heels. I got to know that they would choose only one girl.

After the auditions, guess who they chose… it was me.

They explained me about the workings of the fashion industry, asked to me sign the contract only if I was ready and my family would allow me, etc.

How did your parents react to this?

I spoke to my mother and she was a bit afraid. I begged my mother to let me do modelling.

She is a paediatrician and had wanted me to take up medicine, just like her.

As I was persistent on modelling, she finally gave in and met the director of the agency. Eventually she was fine with it.

I joined the agency and they started promoting me well. They groomed me and even taught me how to do a perfect catwalk.

What about your education? 

My mother wanted me to study further and become a doctor. According to me, it (medicine) is indeed a great profession, and you can save so many lives. But I don't see myself doing this job.

I did finish college with a diploma in Kazakh language. In 2017, I want to join university and get a diploma in English.

What shows did you do before coming to India?

I modelled for a fashion show in China. Not that I remember the name of the show, but the designs were Chinese. I did some more shows in China.

My agency in Kazakhstan sent me for these shows.

IMAGE: The leggy lass who had no mentors in the industry perfected her ramp walk with practice.

Did you always want to be a model?

To be honest, I never wanted to be a model. I always wanted to be an actor or a lawyer. I know both the choices are poles apart. But when I was a kid, I loved all the attention of people on me.

I am the only child to my parents and the youngest in the family.

I have always been pampered a lot. Kazakhs have get-togethers often. So when my family used to meet, I always wanted to be in the spotlight.

I couldn't see my cousins stealing the attention. I thought myself to be some sort of superstar (laughs).

Also, I loved to talk a lot when I was younger. I wanted to put forth my opinion every time. But now I have gotten more serious. Guess I have changed with age.

And what about becoming a lawyer?

I always wanted to help people. There were times when I have watched innocent people being put in the jail on television. Perhaps, that's the reason why I thought of being a lawyer and helping people.

A principle that you won't give up for modelling..

I don't do bikini shots.

It's not that my parents have put it in my head. I have grown up in a different atmosphere. I wouldn't do something like this.

Although we are kind of open Muslims, I don't want to show my body. Only if we feel, we can wear a hijab, niquab, etc. But in the Kazakh culture, we don't have a strict dress code as such. We wear long dresses some times to cover us up.

People have asked me to do bikini shoots, but I am just not comfortable. I have to push myself to do it. So I am not going that way.

What are the challenges you faced during the initial days?

In the beginning when you don't have any experience, you don't even know how to pose.

For me I learnt from every shoot. Gradually, I got confident about my poses.

The good thing is people who I have worked with were very understanding. In case I didn't get a pose or a walk perfect, I'd give my 100 per cent in getting it right.

How are international fashions weeks different from Indian ones?

The people, style of preparation, atmosphere… everything is different.

Honestly, it depends on the choreographers as to how they want the show to be.

In India, there's more choreography but in China or Kazakhstan, there's very little of it. It's mostly a straight walk, like what you see on Fashion TV.

What's the flip side of being a model?

We don't get good, long sleep while shows are on, and we have to wear high heels at a stretch for long hours.

But the worst part is that lot of people don't take this career seriously. They think we are crazy, simply mad. They don't have a good opinion about models.

How do you prepare yourself before the fashion week begins?

It's very important to prepare myself mentally right before shows.

When I got to know I will be walking at LFW, I have been telling myself that I have to do this well.

How do you stay fit?

As a child, I have always been dancing and jumping.

I hit the gym for maintaining good health, and not to look sexy.

From running to squats, I do everything. All the exercises that keep me fit and my muscles toned, I indulge in all those forms.

A general perception is that models maintain their figure by eating very little. What do you have to say on that?

I have never been a big foodie. When I was younger, I wasn't into meat. Even though I come from a country where non-vegetarian is in abundance.

My mother used to push me to have meat items like chicken, beef, etc. Now, I eat everything, except for mutton. I don't like it at all.

I also don't like bread, but sometimes, not often though, I do have it with peanut butter on top of it.

I am very fond of sea-food like salmon.

IMAGE: Ilana is talkative and enjoys the limelight.

Your beauty secret.

I use normal face washes and sunscreens. I am too lazy to prepare a home-made scrub or face pack.

How many designers are you walking for at this LFW?

I think I am walking for 16 designers.

What were your expectations when you got to know you were walking for LFW?

I had never met the big Indian designers, and this platform has helped me to not only wear their outfits but to even get to know them better. For example, Manish Malhotra is such an amazing person. He's so good to the models.

Your favourite designer and why.

VERSACE! I love the label as it's sexy and glamorous, but in a good discreet way.

What do you think about body shaming?

I have always been told that I am very skinny. My family, too, has told me the same and have always asked me to eat well.

Trust me, I do eat. I think it's hereditary, and hence I don't put on weight.

There are models who go crazy about their weight, and there are few who don't care. I don't pay attention to such things myself.

What are your thoughts on the 'burkini ban'?

I think people just judge Muslims as terrorists most of the times. But terrorism isn't in Muslim culture or people. I don't know why people think everyone in this religion are like that.

Future plans

I hope to get a chance to do a Bollywood movie, although that's not my target right now.

I want to work for some more time as a model. I want to travel to different countries, experience new cultures, meet new people and grow as a person.

I also plan to educate myself and work as an interpreter in my own country later.

Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2016: Full Coverage

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Tista Sengupta /