THIS may not be the first time Indian-American author, actor, model and television presenter Padma Lakshmi is attending Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) in Mumbai. The Emmy Award winner had graced its front row in 2008 with then boyfriend and IMG head Teddy Forstmann, adding glamour to the pret proceedings. At the Summer-Resort 2017 edition, to take place between February 1 and 5, the sultry beauty will walk the ramp as showstopper for designer Tarun Tahiliani. The 46-year-old food writer is on a five-city tour of India to promote her culinary books. Between stopovers at Crossword bookstore and the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai to promote her books, she will participate in a fashion blogger roundtable at LFW and then walk the ramp for Tahiliani’s ready-to-wear collection “Chashme Shahi” on February 4. She spoke to us from Chennai where she is currently with her family:
What does it mean for you to be modelling at an Indian fashion week?
I’m so excited to be walking the ramp at a fashion week in Mumbai. After years of walking the ramp in Milan, Paris and New York, to come and do it here feels like coming full circle, like coming home.
Are you familiar with designer Tarun Tahiliani’s work?
Tarun is an old friend and I have always admired his work. I have had girlfriends who have worn his beautiful garments for weddings and other occasions, and have always thought that his work is the best there is. His pieces are timeless and regal.
You’re a food writer and a fashionista. What comes first for you — your affinity to food or fashion?
Probably, food. But, I wouldn’t have the career in food if I hadn’t been able to travel the world first through my career as a fashion model. That job allowed me to hone my palate and try cuisines from different countries. It also gave me the opportunity to draw parallels between different cultures and, of course, do the lifelong research that has gone into my new book, Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs.
You’re an international style icon with your red carpet looks being discussed on platforms worldwide. Have you ever considered promoting home-grown designers on the world stage?
I would love to promote Indian designers more. I do wear Naeem Khan a lot — I wore him to the Emmys recently too — and I also love Bibhu Mohapatra. Then, there are Ritu Kumar and Rohit Bal, who do great work consistently. I look forward to getting to know other designers while I am here. I think India has so much to offer to the world of fashion. We haven’t even tapped the surface yet.
What brings you to India this time?
I come to India once a year to see my family but, on this trip, I will also be embarking on a five-city book tour to promote my memoir, Love, Loss, And What We Ate, as well as Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs. I am excited that so many people have already read the memoir. In fact, last evening in Chennai, a woman named Meghna came up to me to say that her mother had given her my memoir. It is always nice to meet people who respond to your work.