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March 24, 2010

As promised last week, here’s a round up of models – old and new – that I’ve been observing on fashion week catwalks of recent. Some of these girls redefine the very term ‘fashionably feline’ whereas others belong to the variety that I wish was now extinct!

Rabia Butt wears Kamiar Rokni at the TRC/Ensemble show

Who are Pakistan’s best models these days, you must be wondering, and after seeing so many of them up close, walking by on fashion week catwalks, I have a concrete answer! Rabia Butt, Fayeza Ansari and Neha Ahmad have what it takes and here’s why…

The pool of fashion models worth writing home about (and we’re just talking about catwalk here, not print) is very limited but these three are girls who carry clothes extremely well. Fayeza Ansari is the ultimate clothes-horse for western wear and she has confidence and oomph that scorches the runway. Muse to Sana Safinaz and as good in print as she is on the prowl, Neha Ahmad fits into every shoe she wears and looks smashing on the job. Tall, well toned and every designer’s dream Rabia Butt, muse to many and undoubtedly fashion’s brightest shining star, also has exactly what it takes. Because other than the looks and statistics, it’s attitude that takes a model from good to great and these girls fit the bill.

I have to say that the catwalk is the litmus test for any model to be judged upon. Fashion photography these days can conveniently air brush away bad skin tone, acne, dental pigmentation, skin problems and many more issues that cannot be camouflaged on the catwalk. A model with any of these shortcomings cannot be crowned queen. It’s all about youth and visual perfection. It requires a certain kind of attitude and exclusivity (almost addiction) to fashion.

Following hot on the heels of the top three is Sanam Saeed, a model who has the dynamics but due to her association with theatre and television is seen more as a VJ/actor than a fashion model. Mehreen Syed and Nadia Ali are perfect catwalk material; if only they had diversified to add a little versatility to their profiles, which are overshadowed by monotony. Making successful comebacks are Tooba Siddiqui and Rabia Chaudhry: two girls who have always looked good and walked well and despite taking a lengthy hiatus from the fashion business have rebound straight into the limelight.

Mehreen Syed has a great walk but needs to diversify

Also making a comeback has been Cybil Chaudhry, one of the most beautiful faces around but also someone who lacks the mystique that lends a model chutzpah. She is almost boring on the runway, which is never good in any way. And though Meesha Rahman has all the oomph and attitude that a fashion model needs, she unfortunately falls short (literally) of becoming an A-lister. It has to be said Meesha is so effective in her walk that one wishes she were a couple of inches taller!

There must be a dozen popular models I have not mentioned here and their elimination is deliberate and not an oversight. I agree that many of them are very prolific but many people would agree with me when I say that they are not top notch. It is perhaps a monotonous expression, a hint of a double chin, an unflattering paunch, a mouth that is too wide, a flash of metal braces or a desperate need of exfoliation that is holding them back.

Queens of the jungle: Of the established lot of models, there are some who still manage to look fabulous on the runways despite their age, experience and date of expiry stretching longer than any international fashion model’s ever has. Iraj, Vaneeza Ahmad and Nadia Hussein are perhaps three of the most experienced still walking their way to recognition on the runway. Out of the three, however, it has to be Iraj who is still most effective. Not only has she managed to retain her looks and maintain her figure, most importantly she has managed to keep her association with fashion strong by remaining exclusive to it.

Vinny and Nadia, one feels, have diluted their profiles by appearing more on television than anywhere else. Vinny is now more the lawn entrepreneur and actor; like ZQ, Iman and Tanya Shafi she should gracefully retire. Nadia still walks well but does not photograph well as her looks have matured. If we never have to see any of the three as blushing brides on the catwalk it’ll be too soon, but even beyond the bridal one feels they have to pick and choose their projects carefully now.

Fresh faces, going places: Two models have emerged extremely strong and impressive in the past six months: Amna Ilyas and Ayyan Hashmi. They may be relatively new but they are leaving very impressive footprints on the catwalk.

Ayyan Hashmi, 18, stands 5’9” tall and has been in the field for the past two years. However, it’s her participation in fashion weeks and the recently shot Sonya Battla lawn campaign that has brought her to the forefront. From Lahore, this young model is very promising as she looks as good in print as she does on the runway.

Similarly Amna Ilyas, 19 stands 5’7” and cannot be called upcoming but certainly is new if measured by a comparative yardstick. Gaining popularity by the minute, this dusky model could very well be another Fayeza Ansari in the making. She has shoots, shows and commercial endorsements in her kitty and has caught the eye as one of fashion’s next best thing. Hailing from Karachi, the best thing about this model is that she is eloquent and can easily step into the role of a brand spokesperson if need be. Beauty with brains…isn’t that rare combination what the industry is desperately in need of?

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