For long, Indian models have made a beeline for ramps in the Middle East and Europe. But now international faces will set the runway on fire at one the biggest fashion events in India.
Come Sep 5 and the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) in Delhi will see at least three international models. They will be among the 10 new faces chosen for the extravaganza.
Jacqueline Fernandez, Miss Sri Lanka 2006, Barbora Brabcova of the Czech Republic and Diva Dhawan, a non-resident Indian, will walk alongside Indian counterparts to showcase exquisite outfits designed by master craftsmen.
"It is really good to see that many international models are coming to our country. And they are coming to showcase Indian clothes," said Rathi Vinay Jha, head of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), the organising body of the 10th edition of the fashion week.
Agreed David Abraham, a leading Indian fashion designer. "Fresh international faces bring variety to a fashion event. They bring in a touch of global glamour," he said.
"It is great to see that models from different countries are eyeing our fashion industry for employment. Traditionally our models used to go abroad looking for jobs but now I guess the tables are slowly turning."
Indian glamour girls have been attracted by the better remuneration and recognition offered abroad. Jesse Randhawa, Tinu Verghese and Ujjwala Raut are among names that have participated in international ramp shows and earned acclaim for their essentially Indian looks.
But with Indian designers beginning to participate in some of the world's biggest fashion fiestas and international models coming to the country, the flow seems to have been reversed.
In fact, India is seeing international beauties flock to its shores not only as models but also as actresses in Bollywood, the world's largest film industry in terms of volume and ticket sales. Katrina Kaif, Yana Gupta and Padma Lakshmi have all come from foreign shores to star in Indian films.
Fashion experts, however, don't feel that foreign faces pose a threat to Indian models even though they might attract more media attention for a while.
"Models are an international species. Across the world, models travel to various countries for modelling assignments. There is no competition between Indian and international models," said Abraham.
"They have their own distinct markets. An Indian beauty will always have a better market in our country and many Indian models are also travelling abroad for shows, which means that Indians have good demand outside our country too."
Indian models with their distinct physique and features are best suited for clothes manufactured by Indian designers who primarily cater to the indigenous market.
The dusky Indian skin has a global appeal for its exotic look. "International models will only give a new look to our fashion week," said veteran fashion designer Raghavendra Rathore.
"As far as body type goes, our leading models have the same size as Europeans. So Indian girls are at par with them. Moreover, as most of the dresses made in our country are for Indian buyers, our models will be preferred," he added.