How older models are stealing the show today

These girls, well into their 40s, would give newer flock a run for their runway

The last few months have brought back a long-missed and completely decadent new monster: the fashion show. I think other than fashion weeks, most designers had long given up on the lure that was the runway show, preferring newer ways of presentations like social media videos or just store visits. The fashion show is an expensive proposition, putting one together can cost several lakhs only in the production costs of stage, lights, music, and models. Digital media and more experiential ways of marketing had made the fashion show an indulgent, emotional offering.

Which it still is. The good, old-fashioned fashion show is enjoying a hark-back since Sabyasachi Mukherjee put together a gorgeous salon-style jewellery showcase in Delhi last December. Models walked around like they were in an old-school French atelier, holding number cards in their hands. Guests were given folders with the numbers corresponding to the products being presented. This is how atelier shows in Europe were conducted, decades ago, for a select group of couture buyers and women’s magazine editors. The folders were where the orders for the outfits were placed.

Two fashion shows have experimented with locations: the India Men’s Weekend took place on the jetty at Goa’s Aguad Jail, and Mumbai It-girl Surily Goel had an amazing return-to-form show at literally the Mandwa Jetty, with speedboats ferrying hundreds of gorgeous Mumbai people in their finest resort wear and most expensive sneakers (all Alibaugers will tell you heels are practically banned across the sea).

Sheetal Mallar for Sabyasachi Mukherjee | Instagram@sabyasachiofficial Sheetal Mallar for Sabyasachi Mukherjee | Instagram@sabyasachiofficial

The return of the fashion show has also brought on another much celebrated rebound: that of the older models. Many of the models I have seen on the runways recently are not the cheap and cheerful models of the fashion weeks, they are our original glamour girls instead. All these girls, well into their 40s now, would give the newer flock a run for their runway. They are all still as svelte and beautiful as they were two decades ago, but have the swagger and the personalities that the younger girls just don’t.

Sabyasachi’s salon brought back Bhawna Sharma from Barcelona, Nethra Raghuraman from Singapore, Indrani Dasgupta from being Mrs Apeejay Group, Lakshmi Menon from Goa, Sheetal Mallar, Laxmi Rana, Sanea Shaikh, Mitali Rannorey and their ilk. These girls are mothers, and wives, and have moved on to many other and more important roles. But they have maintained their commitment to beauty and a fine form. Likewise, Surily’s show had Kavita Kharayat, Deepti Gujral, Hemangi Parte, and Candice Pinto, each one looking as beautiful as they did decades ago, matching looks and strides with the younger Alecia Kaur and Nayanika Shetty.

Designer label Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla almost presciently did a social media campaign called ‘Muse’, bringing together models of yore such as Nayanika Chatterjee, Mallar, Carol Gracias, Arjun Rampal and Dino Morea. Each one spoke about their halcyon days and how the runway treated them.

I am truly amazed at why our runway models would continue to remain ageless. I am well into my 40s and struggle with weight, waistlines, and the faint appearance of wrinkles. It seems impossible to look as one did a decade ago, leave alone two decades (and perhaps 10 kilos) ago. Catwalks don’t pay well either, unlike movie stars for whom their looks are their meal ticket. Neither do models ever have access to privy parties or events.

It has to be self love. An abiding respect for one’s body, rest, and routine. Models know a secret that we need to learn: beauty takes effort and discipline. It’s hard to gain beauty, and thus should be harder to lose.