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The 90s supermodel era is well and truly over for Indian fashion as Bollywood celebrities rule the roost in terms of popularity and media coverage. What started as a publicity stunt by some designers to create their brands has become something of a norm as nearly every designer now enlists Bollywood stars as showstoppers.
Gone are the days of fashion models like Madhu Supre, Diandra Soares Carol Gracias, Jesse Randhawa and their contemporaries who set the ramp on fire with their immense presence. Thankfully all is not lost at the hands of commercialisation and sacrificed at the altar of Bollywood for the sake of 15 minutes of fame.

Some Indian fashion models are making great strides for the industry and are even actively being selected to walk on prestigious international runways for luxury brands. While others are doing commendable work within Indian fashion by constantly pushing the boundaries and challenging the norms, much like their 90s predecessors.

Fashion purists have always turned their noses up at Bollywood starlets walking the ramp without having aced the catwalk or the attitude required of REAL models. These names are celebrated in those circles and here is hoping that their undeniable charisma receives its due recognition outside the elite fashion set as well. These are the freshest faces of Indian fashion in recent times.

Bhumika Arora

The brown skinned Delhi vixen has walked for illustrious names like Chanel, Balmian, Fendi, Armani Prive, Alexander Wang, Marc Jacobs and Bottega Veneta within a few short years of bursting onto the Parisian fashion scene. It was her Indian ethnicity that first got her noticed as many agencies, casting directors and other models were quite surprised with the presence of an Indian model at international shows.

She’s also appeared in every international fashion magazine of note including a cover of Elle UK and been featured in a campaign for cosmetics giants Bobbi Brown. The 29-year-old beauty is older than the tradition but that’s not the only barrier she’s breaking as forges her success on her own terms. She also doesn’t wear anything sheer on the runway to maintain the modesty of her Indianness and is refreshingly unaware of the path she’s creating for other aspiring Indian models.

Pooja Mor

Pooja Mor’s story of one of sheer determination, hard work and perseverance. In a country where taking drastic risks is actively discouraged especially by parents, Pooja’s sole support was her older brother Sudhir. Pooja had already begun her life as an engineer when she started from humble beginnings at a state level contest for Clean & Clear in Delhi, followed by a few photo shoots that prompted her to sign up with an agency in Mumbai. In a few short seasons she walked the ramp for Indian fashion giants like Manish Malhotra followed by massive success walking for Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Alexander McQueen and Dolce and Gabbana. She’s also shot campaigns for Tory Burch and H&M and has relocated to New York where she’s going from strength to strength in the fashion world. 

Natasha Ramachandran

The NIFT Hyderabad graduate auditioned for Lakme Fashion Week on a whim and on the insistence of her parents as she fit the height criteria and the rest as they say is history. She was used to modelling for friends but not in any professional capacity and after her debut at Lakme it was a short while before international fame came knocking at her door. She has walked for Moncler and Nicole Miller and shot campaigns for Aveda and Toast. Natasha has been very vocal about the gruelling audition process for fashion shows in India and abroad and constantly ups her game by talking to senior models with more experience.

Rachel Bayros

The dusky, statuesque, photogenic head turner with the face of an angel is a self-confessed true blue Bangalorean. She started working as early as 18 but things really kicked off after she won the Kingfisher Fresh Face Contest. Standing tall at 5 feet 10 inches, Rachel has become the toast of the Indian fashion circuit walking for stalwarts like Abraham & Thakore, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Ritu Kumar, Tarun Tahiliani and Ritu Beri. Rachel has not just been a fixture at Indian fashion weeks but has also walked at the Sri Lanka Fashion Week, Pakistan Fashion Week and even done a quick stint in China. She moved base from Bangalore to Delhi in search of more work and now lives in Mumbai but still takes off to Bangalore at every opportunity.

Paloma Monnappa

There are few things that sexy Coorgi Paloma Monnappa can’t do. The model, actress, DJ, TV host and anchor finds a spot of this list because she’s probably one of the only real surfer chicks of India who loves to surf in the nude at undiscovered beaches. She doesn’t walk the ramp at fashion weeks because her appeal is much more earthy and real. From being on the road for months shooting for Discovery Channel’s project India My Way to taking in the waves at Covelong Point, this half-Coorgi half-Tibetan stunner is the ultimate intellectual Bohemian princess. And who knows maybe her story will involve fashion week glory because she’s already famous rather than the other way around.

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