Spunk and bold moves. That’s the new mantra of the Pakistani ramp. Models from Lahore and Karachi are wooing the world of international fashion.
Meet Neha Ahmed. At 23, she’s already catwalked in Paris and Dubai. Next month, she’ll do a show in London for designer Hasan Sheriyar. “We’re getting a lot more international exposure now. I’m listed with agents in Paris and Dubai and keep going for shows there,” says Ahmed. But entry into modelling wasn’t easy. “My father, an armyman, was furious. But that was then. Now, he’s cool about it.”
Sunita Marshall, having done ramp shows in London, Sri Lanka, India, Singapore and Dubai, is one of the most sought-after models on the Pakistani ramp. “Though modeling is seen as a short-term profession in Pakistan, there’s a lot happening in the industry: we’re looked upon with respect and the money is amazing,” says Marshall, set to make her acting debut in the play Sukhay Patay, which has been shot in Canada and co-stars Suresh Oberoi.more
Iman Ali has the oomph. And, having modelled for Tarun Tahiliani, Ritu Kumar, JJ Valaya and Rina Dhaka, she has a fan following in India. “Big models in Pakistan are paid well. We’re expensive because there aren’t too many models here,” says Ali. Having acted in Lollywood, is she ready for Bollywood? “I can’t do crappy films. I’d like to work with Ram Gopal Varma and Mani Ratnam, not take off my clothes. Sex isn’t everything. Why do Indian models strip, and allow themselves to be objectified?”
Iraj, who “started at 18,” has been modelling for 15 years now. “When I started out, there were negative reactions. Now, people are more accepting if a girl wants to become a professional model. That’s probably because glamor is a big business globally.” says Iraj, who has just done a modeling assignment in Japan. What’s her formula for success? “You need determination, physical attributes and attitude. In Pakistan, if you’re a success, you’ll be a ramp princess for years since not too many girls are into modeling.”
Mehreen Raheal, though she doesn’t walk the ramp, has been the covergirl for fashion magazines Libas and Daily Times. “Initially, I was drawn to the glamor. Modeling throws up numerous opportunities. In my case, it’s taken me to acting.”