The Inside Story

At first glance,Alana Tamanini looks like one of the many young foreign tourists that one could run into.

Written by VIDYA PRABHU | Published: May 14, 2012 3:37 am

At first glance,Alana Tamanini looks like one of the many young foreign tourists that one could run into. Yet,the 18-year-old Brazilian student is not in Mumbai just to soak in the city’s sights and smells. She is,in fact,here on work; her most recent assignment being a fashion show for Triumph,a lingerie brand. “I have already walked for several lingerie brands back home,so this is not exactly new to me,” she says after the show. She adds that the lure of a decent sum for a few hours of work made her take it up.

Tamanini is no isolated case,for many such foreign models make a living inside India’s lingerie industry. From ad campaigns and shoots to fashion shows,the Indian lingerie sector depends almost exclusively on foreign models.

While the promise of a quick buck attracts them to the job,the lingerie companies blame unavailability of Indian models. “It’s not a conscious decision on our part. But Indian models are apprehensive about lingerie assignments,” says Anuja Mashruwala,business development manager for the lingerie brand Soie.

This skepticism among Indian models has to do with our mindset,says fashion photographer Vikram Bawa. “Indian models are not comfortable posing in lingerie. They have their family and friends here and don’t find the notion of exposing their social circle to such intimate pictures very palatable,” he reasons.

Veteran model Anchal Kumar agrees; she herself is not keen on doing such shows. “For foreign models,it’s common to be photographed in lingerie but in India,it’s frowned upon. No Indian model wants to be typecast as a lingerie model,” she says.

Choreographer Lubna Adams points out how lingerie models are subjected to unwelcome scrutiny. “Obviously,that’s something Indian women aren’t comfortable with. So even if they consent to doing a show,they invariably put across some conditions; like they insist on wearing a sarong,which just doesn’t work for a lingerie show,” she explains.

Money factors also keeps Indian models away. “On an average,a foreign model charges Rs 30,000 rupees for a show whereas the latter would charge more,” says Mashruwala.

For Rashi Virmani,who has choreographed several lingerie shows,the fitness factor is of utmost importance. “Foreign models have a perfect body; they don’t have any love handles or inhibitions. This makes them more eligible for such a show in comparison to their Indian counterparts,” she says.

The Kingfisher swimsuit calendar,which includes well-known girls from the glamour industry,remains a notable exception to the general mindset. “Ultimately,it’s the portrayal that matters. Even though there’s skin show in the calendar,it’s done in a classy manner. So models clamour to be a part of that project. But lingerie shoots don’t enjoy that image yet,” explains Kakkar. Until they do,it will be a windfall for foreign models.

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