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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Virtually fashionable: Three supermodels on their experience of walking the digital ramp

Longer working hours, freedom of creativity and re-takes are just some of the many changes taking place for the models with Indian fashion shows going digital. But there's more to it

Written by Shambhavi Dutta | New Delhi |
Updated: October 8, 2020 12:56:03 pm
Is walking the ramp to a live audience still their first love? (Photo: Candice Pinto, Sonalika Sahay and Deepti Gujral/ Instagram, designed by Gargi Singh)

Multiple outfit changes, makeup artists and stylists running around, photographers and publicists trying to squeeze in, people at work setting up lights and stage… This is how models usually describe the backstage experience at fashion shows. However, with the pandemic affecting everything that came, it’s way, the very definition of a fashion week has also changed. At the moment, the green room is all about separate counters for models, regular sanitisation, and of course masks and gloves, and above all — no audience in sight as the shows have gone virtual.

Three supermodels, who have been a part of the industry for at least a decade, tell how they feel about the new normal, what they miss about physical fashion shows, and if walking the ramp to a live audience will always remain their first love.

READ| Tech, newer platforms, reinventing: How designers plan to weather pandemic and beyond

Candice Pinto


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A post shared by CANDICE PINTO (@ninjapinto) on Sep 18, 2020 at 9:18pm PDT

For Pinto, who started modelling two decades ago and is now prepping for the upcoming Lakme Fashion Week (LFW), the change has been “unprecedented”. “It’s been a new learning experience, but overall it has been nothing less than good,” she shares.

However, she is quick to add that digital fashion shows are “way more tedious than doing live shows”. “This is because,” she says, “in a set up without an audience or a choreographer, the camera is one’s teacher; and that certainly takes longer and requires a lot of time and patience”. 

“We have to rehearse more because it requires a lot of re-takes. This never happened in a live show! Thus, invariably as a model, the workload has significantly increased,” says Pinto.

READ| FDCI chairman Sunil Sethi on haute couture, Prêt-à-Porter and holding the first-ever digital India Couture Week

“We have to rehearse more because it requires a lot of re-takes. This never happened in a live show!” (Photo: PR Handout)

Before the pandemic struck, every model used to take at least three days for dress rehearsals ahead of the show. “But now, it depends on the duration of the show and how many models will walk the ramp,” says Pinto, adding that now it is the cameraperson who takes the call as it is “more about how long one has to stand in front of the camera so that the ensemble and its intricate details are captured to perfection”. 

But does walking the ramp without an audience affect her? ”As a model, it is my job to do complete justice to the ensemble and make it look great. The absence of an audience doesn’t make much difference, but I do certainly miss the energy of a place roaring with an audience,” she says. 

Sonalika Sahay


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A post shared by Sonalika Sahay (@sonalikasahay) on Oct 1, 2020 at 7:29am PDT

At the moment, Sahay is quarantining at the St. Regis Hotel Mumbai before she walks the LFW ramp. The model, who has been a part of the industry for the last 15 years, has had her tryst with virtual shows recently when she walked for designers Shantanu & Nikhil at the India Couture Week.

Comparing digital and physical shows and reminiscing one of her favourite shows – when she walked on the Great Wall of China — Sahay says though the current circumstances have “come as a surprise to her”, she is glad that everyone is trying to do their best. “Everyone has started exploring the digital arena which is amazing because the reach is wider, and also trying to communicate what fashion truly means by breaking the norms,” shares the model. 

Deepti, a model says “with constant sanitisation happening, the process is certainly slow, but we can’t choose right now, we can only adapt.”(Photo: PR Handout)

READ| Miss the drama of physical shows, but the new format is more democratic: Falguni Shane Peacock on digital ICW 2020

Agreeing with Pinto, she says, “Working for a digital fashion show requires a lot more work. Earlier, all it used to take was 45 minutes of preparation before the final show, but now it is a whole day’s job.”

But there is a silver lining too, says Sahay. “Even though it is a full day’s work, the benefit of walking for an online show is that there is a scope for correction and more freedom for creativity. You are who you are on the live show, everything needs to be perfect even before you step on the ramp, but with digital shows, minuscule mistakes can be edited out. The director says ‘cut!’ and the change in the posture or the camera angle is made.”

But would she prefer to walk the ramp live? “I am happy with the current scenario because the industry is switching and reinventing itself, and that’s the beauty of it.” 

A model getting ready for the upcoming for the fist-ever digital Lakme Fashion Week. (Photo: PR Handout)

Deepti Gujral

Gujral believes that digital is the only way out as of now. “This is a great time for us to really get out of our comfort zones and try something new. The digital is a great avenue to explore and I am more than privileged to be a part of it. While physical shows have their own flavour and feel, the digital scenario has led me to adapt to a new scenario and I believe it is for the better.” 

Currently busy prepping for LFW, which goes digital from October 21, she says, ”digital fashion shows are certainly more organised. However, with constant sanitisation happening, the process is certainly slow, but we can’t choose right now, we can only adapt.” 

READ| It’s intriguing to see the world shrink into a 4:3 screen: Designer JJ Valaya

Gujral is unperturbed if the industry doesn’t go back to doing live shows anytime soon. “It’s the way you look at it, it’s the perception towards the industry, and as models, we must take it with a pinch of salt, enjoy the moment and give your best. Most importantly, be honoured because you are still working while at the same time exploring new sensibilities.”

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