Quest for youthfulness

Anjali Jhangiani
Friday, 11 August 2017

We meet Marc Robinson, Deepti Gujral and Candice Pinto to chat about the profession of modelling in today’s time, the rapidly changing fashion industry, during their visit to the city for the regional casting of young models for an international competition.

Who can handle the responsibility of scouting for a model to represent India on an international platform better than models, supermodels who have already ‘been there and done that’? The power team, comprising Marc Robinson, Deepti Gujral and Candice Pinto, recently visited the Max store at Phoenix Marketcity to select a group of boys and girls for the Elite Model Look India 2017, a nationwide hunt for a fresh face to represent the country on an international platform. 

Explaining the concept, Marc says, “This is the fourth year that India is participating in this. The endeavour is to find young boys and girls between the age of 16 to 22 across India, who have a different personality with a strong sense of individuality, can be their own brand, look different and stand out. It’s not a beauty pageant.”

He adds that the trio, who shoulder the responsibility of finding the perfect fit, have certain mandates from the mother competition, the Paris Elite Model Look, to identify who will work internationally. Apart from Hyderabad, Delhi, Bengaluru, Nagaland, Kolkata and Pune, the trio will be travelling to Goa and Mumbai for their quest.

After eight boys and girls are shortlisted from across the country, they will be sent for a boot camp in Goa and one winner will be selected who will represent India in the final leg of the competition in Milan where over 45 countries will be participating. The international winner will get contracts worth a lot, we’re talking obscene amount of money. 

In search of youthfulness
Marc shares that when looking for the right fit, the emphasis is on youthfulness. “My emphasis is purely on youth because I feel that in Paris, when you work internationally, their emphasis is on youth — young models who can develop and become brands of their own. I’m looking for someone who is raw and new, and stands out because they have a different personality which makes one wonder about all the possibilities that one can explore with the fresh face,” says Marc, adding that he is glad to have Candice and Deepti by his side to have a combined perspective. “Collective intelligence is always better than individual intelligence,” he says. 

Catch them young
The participants in this competition are teenagers, most of whom are still in school or college. “If you catch them when they are say 14-15, they can be moulded to fit into the rapidly changing industry. Nowadays we see such young kids (teenagers) walking the ramp, they’re still quite nervous, and it’s really hard for them because they’re still in school. But even we started off when we were young. I started when I was 18. And at that time, we didn’t have any agencies like we do today. We were still with our parents, we were studying, it was difficult breaking out of that comfort zone. Now because the platform is massive, parents are willing to send their kids overseas and give it a shot. I think it’s a great call,” says Candice. 

And Deepti agrees. “It’s very difficult for a 16-year-old girl to be exposed to a different kind of forum. When I started modelling, it was very tough for me to understand this new glamorous world because I come from Kolkata and I had not been exposed to all of this before. But the youth today is more aware and forward in the way they think. They know what they are doing. They are aware of what they want out of their life,” she says, adding, “The avenues are opening up, it’s up to you how you place yourself and how you move forward. At the end of the day, there are opportunities galore. It’s all about how serious you are about this profession and how you’re going to make this profession your bread and butter. Education is a criterion, but the sooner you start, the longer you stay and the longer you earn.”

Marc talks of the India winner from last year who was a 5’9,16-year old girl called Priyanka from Mangalore. “We loved her, the president of Elite loved her as well. But when you put a 16-year-old girl from India beside girls her age from other countries, you realise that exposure makes a great difference and that is where we tend to lack, specially when you’re from a two tier city like Mangalore.

The challenge is when we scout them and take them there and come back, they have to make that move to Delhi or Mumbai. And I can tell you, had she shifted, she would have been an instant hit. She would have got the taste of the industry and would have been bitten by the bug and gone international herself. That’s why it’s so important to have Deepti and Candice to mentor these girls and inspire them. But she chose to go back to Mangalore to complete her studies. We always recommend that they should have a fling with modelling at this age while they complete their education and take it up as they go along,” he says.

A win-win situation
Deepti claims that participating in such competitions gives the youth a platform to be exposed to the world of fashion and shows them what to expect if they want to join the industry. And that she, along with Marc and Candice, are there to mentor them. “We can only put them there and they have to take it forward, that comes with experience. No matter how much we groom them, it’s a journey they need to take. But it’s a win-win situation with nothing to lose. Even though there’s only one winner, girls who are participating and have not been selected for the finals are walking for a lot of fashion weeks in India,” she shares. 

Marc shares an anecdote from the year before last competition in Milan. “A lot of parents travel with their children because they’re still in school, they’re 14-15. I was having coffee with one of the parents year before last, they said that their son is representing Holland. I asked what he does and they said, ‘Well he studies and he works at Starbucks to make that extra buck.’ He won that year. I met them after the show and they were ecstatic. The minute the competition was over, he signed the Fashion week contract for Milan and he was booked for about 10 contracts from luxury international brands, including Valentino, Armani and the likes,” he says.

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