Without question, the hottest name in Indian fashion is supermodel Monikangana Dutta, a poll of industry insiders reveals. And with good reason, too.
The 5'9 stunner is signed to top model agency IMG, walks at shows both in India and abroad and has graced the cover of Vogue magazine, standing between Bollywood beauties Priyanka Chopra and Preity Zinta. That's not mentioning the recent photo shoot with Oliviero Toscani for Harper's Bazaar or the effusive shout-out in the New York Post. Her fame is growing. Quickly.
And yet she she's unfazed by it all: the press, the Mumbai highlife, the international gigs with world-class designers. At heart, she explains, she's just an old-fashioned Indian girl from Guwahati, Assam. Everything else is simply destiny.
She spoke with rediff.com on Day 4 of Lakme Fashion week:
How long have you been modelling? How did it come about?
This is my sixth year, as I started after my 12th standard. As for how it's happened, I honestly am starting to believe in destiny. For the longest time, I resisted the thought that destiny has a role, but I'm beginning to change my mind...
How has the recession affected the Indian fashion industry? Has it affected you personally?
It's certainly affected the industry. But you see people responding creatively to it. A lot of designers, for example, are very cleverly using cheaper fabrics, but presenting them in interesting ways. As for myself, by God's grace, I've not been affected, yet. But I feel terrible for the people who have lost their jobs and their livelihoods. It's really tough.
Do you find modelling to be a rewarding career?
Well, for six long years I've been working to make it. And now I've been signed by IMG, and have had the chance to walk in top shows and work with top designers. So it's definitely been rewarding.
What do you think of the upcoming elections?
I would love to see the Congress Party win, but I feel like it'll be too tough for them to do it. We'll just have to wait and see.
Do you have a favourite Indian designer? Favourite international designer?
My favourite Indian designer is Sabyasachi, definitely. Not just because he's such a fantastic, talented designer, but because he's also a wonderful person. I feel his collections reflect his awesome personality. As for international designers, Yohji Yamamoto is my favourite. At a recent Paris Fashion Week, I became the first Indian to walk for him. It was a huge honour.
And you own personal fashion sense?
Casual, loose-fitting, comfortable. That's what I wear most the time. But when I do dress up, I like to get really, really dressed up.
And finally, tell us, do you only date models? Or do non-models stand a chance? And are you single at the moment?
I'm an old-fashioned Indian girl, at heart. I think guys should do anything but model. Seriously, any other job but modelling. So I definitely I'm traditional that way. And, yeah, I'm currently single.
Photograph: Dominic Xavier
Also see: Sunaina Puri: Sheer delight at LFW