Twenty minutes with Smita Lasrado dramatically alters your understanding of the fashion industry.
Sure, she looks like the stereotypical model: nearly 6'0 tall, only 50 kgs and almost painfully beautiful. She has worked in Paris with industry biggies like Yves Saint Laurent and Dior, and this October at her first full-fledged Lakme Fashion Week, she cemented herself as one of India's top young models.
But if you push all that aside and get to know Smita, you quickly see that she flies in the face of everything we typically associate with fashion: she's not shallow, vain, pretentious or arrogant.
Moreover, she's neither oversexed nor devoid of personality. Instead, she's kind, intelligent and possesses a brilliant sense of a humour. Above all else, she's undeniably human. And in this oft-misunderstood industry, where models are either placed on a pedestal as the epitome of beauty or vilified and targeted by malicious speculations, this humanity is perhaps her greatest attribute.
These were my first impressions when we met in the VIP lounge at Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai, and today, some six weeks and several meetings later, my impressions remain the same. The following interview combines snippets from our face-to-face, telephonic and internet interactions in an attempt to reconcile Smita Lasrado, the person, with Smita Lasrado, the Lakme fashion model.
Have you always aspired to be a model?
Honestly, modelling wasn't ever on my agenda. However, I have been approached to model since I was a teen, but I didn't have the best self image, so I never thought about it seriously.
A few years later, I started interning at a production house, Red Ice Films, and one of the directors on their panel cast me in an ad. After that, people started approaching me, so I thought "Okay, I'm going to try it."
Who was your favourite model when you were younger? And now?
I can't identify a model I liked when I was young, because I wasn't the type of girl who read fashion magazines. In fact, I still don't.
But today, my favourite models are definitely Laxmi Menon, Carol Gracias and Ujjwala Raut, because all three are so confident and have pushed the boundary.
To me, Laxmi Menon is the most sensual woman in India and Nafisa Ali is the most beautiful.
Are you friends with many models and designers?
Actually, I don't have too many friends in the industry, but people who I am very fond of include Colston Julian, Savio Jon, Carol Gracias, Wendell Rodricks, Nachiket Barve.
To be accurate, Colston and Savio are more like family to me.
Text: Matthew Schneeberger
Photographs courtesy Smita Lasrado
Also read: Supermodelling, rock and potato chips: Monikangana Dutta