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    Shaking off its tags as the Garden City and Silicon Valley of India, Bengaluru is fast emerging as the hotbed  for fashion talent. We talk to the current crop who have launched their dream careers from this city.

    NOT TOO long ago when Bengaluru, then Bangalore, was preening with its new status as the Silicon Valley of India, matching it step for step was its sense of style and fashion. While the likes of Deepika Padukone, Lakshmi Menon and Rani Jeyaraj scorched the ramps, fashionistas Prasad Bidapa, Manoviraj Khosla, Deepika Govind and their ilk kept the city’s style quotient up and in the reckoning. Bangalore becoming Bengaluru didn’t changed its sartorial leanings any and there’s been a quiet growth in the number of fashion models, photographers and makeup artists emerging from the city. “I agree. There’s immense talent here in Bengaluru. However, the big fashion magazines and stylists are in Mumbai and Delhi so there’s a need for the city’s creative lot to move out and find a footing,” says designer Michelle Salins. Khosla adds, “I’m not saying there is not enough talent here but I do expect a lot more. However, I will say it’s on the rise.” We talk to a few names from the city, who have made a mark in the industry.

    Ralph Daniels

    1Originally from Pune, this celebrated makeup artist and hairstylist moved to Bengaluru over a decade ago. And as is the case of almost everyone who troops to Bengaluru, he started off with a corporate job, as a graphic artist. “A cushy job at a leading MNC brought me to this city. Although I remained active in the field of classical music, theatre and the arts, I never considered it to be a practical career choice,” says the self-taught professional, adding, “Through my work in theatre, I met and became friends with a host of interesting people, including an acclaimed fashion designer who having observed my interest in hair and makeup artistry encouraged me to give it a shot.” Today, with clients like Bhima Jewellers, Tanishq, Sunfeast, Myntra, Avon and other big brands, it’s no surprise that Daniels has worked with actors Amy Jackson and Shobhana, models Dayana Erappa, Nidhi Sunil and a host of others.
    “My greatest achievement is working with legendary photographer, the late Prabuddha Dasgupta. His zen-like calmness, extremely clear and succinctly explained brief to the creative team and no-fuss working style, made it all the more pleasant,” recalls Daniels, whose inspiration stems from all things vintage. “Cyd Charise and her performance in Singin’ In The Rain,” is one of them. Being a makeup artist comes with its own set of challenges, but Daniels’ approach to beauty is to keep it natural. “I love making the skin look flawless and natural with an almost lit-from-within brilliance,” he says.

    Trend talk: It’s all about the brows now, although I hate it that people are crossing over to pantomime-style painted brows.
    In the pipeline: After years of dozens of people asking me to conduct workshops and classes in makeup, I have finally decided to roll out courses from next year.

     

    Jantee Hazarika

    Jantee Hazarika, the dusky beauty who was the runner-up in the recently concluded, India’s Next Top Model, started off her career from Bengaluru, “It holds a special place in my heart,” says the Assamese beauty who now works from Mumbai. “There is an amalgamation of different cultures and styles that co-exist in Bengaluru, from the goths and hipsters to lovers of all things classic and preppy. That’s what makes the city so unique. It is so accepting,” gushes Hazarika, who is a native of Guwahati.
    The 22-year-old has been the cover model for magazines like Grazia and Maxim and has worked with names such as designer Gaurang Shah, apart from doing shoots for Amazon India, Abof.com and Tata Cliq. “I had zero interest in modelling until my mom forced me to try auditioning for a pageant. That’s when I realised how much I love it,” says the self-proclaimed introvert. And while most models take inspiration from other established names, Hazarika says she is inspired by the common man. “The zeal with which he or she lives life, despite their shortcomings keeps me going.”

    Word of advice: Modeling is not just about posing and walking the ramp. It’s also about putting in your best efforts to look confident in whatever you’re doing.
    Work life: I enjoy doing shoots that take me out of my comfort zone.

    Archana Akhil Kumar

    3She might be taking over the fashion world at the moment, with those distinct eyebrows and high cheekbones, but the supermodel confesses that she never felt pretty, growing up. “I was called a giraffe, skeleton and all sorts of names because I was super skinny, tall and dusky,” recalls city girl Kumar, who has walked for designers like Tarun Tahiliani, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Manish Malhotra.
    Having started off her career with an ad campaign for Josco Jewellers, Kumar’s career really took off in 2011, after she was named among the top 10 models by Elite Look of the Year, an international contest that is credited with spotting talent like Cindy Crawford, Gisele Bundchen and Alessandra Ambrosio. “It was a confidence booster, as I was sharing space with nine other top models from around the world,” shares Kumar, who grew up in Viveknagar and attended Baldwin Girls High School. “Everytime I get a chance, I return to Bengaluru. I remember how the city was 10 years ago. It has changed so much. But it still remains a huge part of who I am today. We are a growing country and I feel it’s time we accepted the new Bengaluru,” she adds.
    Cut to 2016 and the Bengaluru girl has worked with all the top designers in the country, shot with the most renowned photographers, appeared on the cover of a dozen fashion magazines and travelled to more countries than she can remember. “For a dusky girl to have done so well in a country like ours, it really means a lot to me. And it’s nice to see that darker skin is slowly starting to rule the industry. But as a country, we still have a long way to go,” Kumar tells us.

    Sam Mohan

    Sam Mohan’s passion for his art is out there for all to see. “Work is an extension of me. It is something I do, not because I have to but because I want to and I enjoy doing it,” says the photographer, who is currently in Zanzibar on a project.
    Having grown up as an army kid, the 36-year-old has been exposed to the natural beauty of the country for as far back he could remember. “My dad was in the Indian army and every time he came back home on a holiday, he would bring back pictures of all the places that he was posted at. It amazed me that there was such a different world out there. This world and different worlds had to be experienced and captured. Photography, it seemed, was the only way I knew how to,” explains Mohan, whose works are an interplay between artificial and natural light, and colours and textures. Fashion happened over the course of his career, and today, the talented lensman has photographed models like Carol Gracias and Rachel Bayros, and has shot for magazines such as Grazia, Vogue, The Times, UK, Children’s Heart Link USA, Samvirke Magazine Denmark, and Nature Magazine, UK. His work for DHL Express’ campaign, DHL Hands, won them a Cannes Silver Lion. Having graduated in journalism from Christ University, Mohan feels that the city has always been up for experimentation and change. “Bengaluru is still a young city, perhaps a little confused but great nevertheless. People are accommodative and a general level of sanity prevails all across. The current buzz in the air is startups but from what I remember, people were always up for the new, different and the experimental,” he concludes.

    Inspirations: First, real life! Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. Then, works of some masters like Prabuddha Dasgupta, David LaChapelle, Eugenio Recuenco, Martin Parr, Sebastien Salgado, Sally Mann, Richard Billingham, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman, Satoshi Saikusa, Shinichi Maruyama.
    In the pipeline: I’m currently working on an aerial film project, but can’t reveal much more.

    Tarunn Solanki

    Solanki’s tryst with photography was just waiting to happen. “Photography has been my family profession for over 100 years, starting from my great grandfather shooting the first world war,” shares the photographer. So it comes as no surprise that this Bengaluru-based talent’s list of clients include Titan Watches India, Scullers, Club Burgoyne, Ed Hardy and Indian Terrain, amongst others. “My quality is to capture people at ease but playing a character in an environment or situation dictated by the campaign to tell a story,” shares Solanki, who has worked with big names like actor, Lisa Haydon and cricketer, MS Dhoni.
    His works have a serene vibe, with a touch of drama, right from Sanchita Ajjampur’s campaign starring Kalki Koechlin to his collaboration with celebrity stylist Anaita Shroff Adajania for L’Officiel Magazine. For that, he credits the city, where it all began. “The youth in Bengaluru had this calm and laid back attitude in the 90s when I moved here, which was an antidote to an anxious fearful mind like mine. The attraction was natural. I needed Bengaluru,” he tells us, adding, “It’s this calm base from where I’ve been able to work and travel across the world.”

    Word of advice: Comfort zones and attachments are counterproductive to
    this business and make anything or anyone look dated.
    Work life: I enjoy shooting people playing characters. I give them the right props,
    emotions and locations so as to evoke the observer’s imagination.

    By Rashmi Rajagopal Lobo

     

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