Formichetti: Menon is the "girl of the season… personifying the powerful modern woman" 26th May 2009: Asian beauties continue to be quite a rage in the UK. After Slumdog’s belle Freida Pinto was chosen beauty ambassador by none other than cosmetic giant L’Oreal, its 26-year-old model Lakshmi Menon’s turn to cause a flutter.
London stylist Nicola Formichetti only recently picked Menon for the cover of "Dazed & Confused" magazine.
Talk to him, and the ultra-cool style guru says Menon is the "girl of the season… personifying the powerful modern woman".
Formichetti is not the only one. Sarah Doukas, head of UK model agency Storm, confesses to being "amazed" by the combination of her "beauty, charisma and presence". Doukas knows what she is saying. After all, she is the one who discovered Kate Moss.
Well, Menon may have begun her modelling career just to earn a bit of "good pocket money" while studying for a degree in sociology at the University of Bangalore. But today Menon happens to be the only Indian model regularly seen on the runways of New York and Paris, in international fashion publications and advertising campaigns.
But things were different, when she initially started sashaying up the ramp of popularity. Menon vividly recalls: "When I first signed with agencies in Europe and the US, I barely did anything; it was one show here, another there.
“At that time it was completely dominated by Caucasian girls, particularly Russians. There were a few black girls, of course, such as Liya Kebede, and someone like Naomi Campbell would do the odd show-stopper, but there weren’t many girls of colour at all."
Menon’s big break came only when Jean Paul Gaultier cast her for a show for his own label. It worked wonders. Soon she found herself with a job on the Hermès catwalk; and finally the Hermès advertising campaign. Success followed. Menon’s grade as a face to watch was secured, as she bagged roles in major campaigns for Max Mara and Givenchy.
Her success has demonstrated the Indian subcontinent is in the middle of its own cultural "moment". In fact, trendy London magazine Tank has dedicated its latest issue to all things Indian, putting Menon’s lesser-known fellow model Monikangana Dutta on the cover.
So, the next time you see an Indian beauty in the streets of London, look hard, she may actually be the cover girl of some fashion magazine.