Column: Nikita Anand

Model Down

Thereís a hell of a lot of blood, sweat and tears behind that catwalk. Therefore, itís ironic that models are dismissed as airheads and treated so shabbily. What we need is a national modelling institute where they can seek guidance and acquire skills
Every ramp show I do, I come across a new face. Every teenage girl wants to become a model. Irrespective of whether she has what it takes to become a successful model, namely good height, great figure, confidence, style and grace to carry off a garment on the ramp. But there seems to be no criteria anymore. And I donít blame these girls who have probably just stepped out of college, ready to step into the world of glamour and tinsel, because there is no national modelling institute where they can seek guidance. As a result, every show in the country seems to churn out a new model everyday.

Itís very disheartening to observe the unprofessional modus operandi in modelling. A model puts in more than a dayís work, hours into just one show. But still, theyíre given the least priority. A model is expected to ďbe at the venueĒ all day long, hang around because one never knows when theyíll be required for rehearsals. Theyíre at the mercy of the stage, lights and music technicians because in this field, nothing is ever coordinated. Delays are part of the routine. What we need is to adopt the policy of the West where the universal standard of paying by the hour is followed.

Iíve always wanted to ask the the designers and fashion institute directors a question. Can you organise a show without a model?

Itís considered a job where no real qualifications are required. The general assumption is that models donít do much, itís one hell of an easy task to parade up and down the ramp. Anyone can do it. But letís not forget that when on the ramp, thereís a live audience, about 12 sequences where you ought to remember what you are doing in each, half a minute change time, hundreds of flashbulbs, strong lights which nearly blind you, a stage which has been constructed in a matter of 12 hours and therefore poses the very real threat of a pointy heel slipping into a crack any minute, last-minute wardrobe adjustments that can snap open when you least expect itÖ I hope youíll agree that it requires more than just a pretty face and a good figure to handle the above.

Iíve always wanted to ask the so-called clients, namely the designers and fashion institute directors a question. Can you organise a show without a model? Letís face it. There can be no designer show without a model. Who will model the creations of every graduating fashion student every year? But even then models donít get the respect they deserveÖ in terms of treatment or payment. And the state of male models is worse.

Teenagers are the future of every profession. In the modelling world, they are the reason the industry exists. There are lots of young girls who come up to me and inquire about modelling institutes. There are a handful of grooming institutes that one could opt for, but they still lack in some areas. The modelling scene in India requires a national institute, and this would follow as and when the government assigns modelling the status of an industry. It would be a step towards professionalism and efficiency.
The national institute/school should be designed by modelling agents and fashion industry professionals. One aspect of an institute is the training it offers. The other is education. This education will not only answer an aspiring modelís questions and help build a possible career but more importantly, help avoid the scams, the rip-offs that surrounds modelling. There is a whole industry built around taking advantage of your dreams. This field thrives on your enthusiasm, ignorance and money. But mostly it thrives on the uncertainty and lack of information generally available. 

óThe authorís been Miss India Universe in 2003

March 2006

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