Blame designers for decline of supermodel era in India, says Noyonika Chatterjee


Noyonika Chatterjee doesn’t see the supermodel era making a comeback in India anytime soon, and blames designers for it. The supermodel says the designers have started treating models like hangers.

Noyonika, along with Madhu Sapre, Milind Soman, Mehr and Arjun Rampal were part of the supermodel culture in India. But Noyonika says the culture is lost amid the glamour of Bollywood and designers’ collections.

“I don’t see the supermodel era coming back anytime soon… The designers are to be blamed because, at one point in India, we became bigger than the designers. It was about what Noyonika or what Madhu Sapre would wear. It was not about what the designers were showing,” Noyonika told IANS.

“Like today, what’s becoming of the actresses. They feel actresses get more mileage for them which we were not giving them. We were only giving mileage to ourselves, so they decided to make us clones of each other and just treat us (models) like hangers… Like you are supposed to be this measurement, and not have a personality of your own — with same make-up and same hair,” added the supermodel.

Noyonika continued: “Clothes are important, which on a certain level I believe in, and on certain level I don’t, because it is bought by people who don’t look the same. If you want varied people to imagine themselves, you should have varied models as well.”

She got associated with luxury hair styling brand TIGI last week as an image consultant to train the shortlisted candidates of TIGI Backstage Heroes platform, in soft skills.

Noyonika started modeling at the age of 13. With her unconventional looks, she broke many stereotypes around fair skin models in the industry and was dubbed as the Naomi Campbell of India.

She ruled the ramp in the 1990s, and took a short break for her marriage and child, and came back with a vengeance. She still remains a favourite for many designers. Apart from modelling, Noyonika uses her expertise to train beauty contestants and choreograph beauty events. Priyanka Chopra, Lara Dutta and Dia Mirza, among others, have taken her guidance.

Noyonika feels the Indian fashion industry is opening up to experiment but is best at aping the west.

“There are transgender models, oversize models… The fashion industry is opening up slowly. I have to tell you that they only open up when the West opens up. When they start doing it, we start doing it. We don’t have ideas of our own, we only know how to ape and copy 90 per cent of the time.”

Noyonika might have complaints about the industry, but it is only because she wants it to grow positively.

“I hope I haven’t sounded too negative because the industry really has given me a lot. I might complain about a few things but by and large, I have to say that a lot of who I am is because of the confidence that I have got from the industry and I am who I am because of this industry,” she said, adding that she enjoyed working with TIGI.

She gave grooming tips to shortlisted candidates of the competition Backstage Heroes. The brand had added a module on soft skills to help the budding hair stylists develop their overall personality and the confidence they need to lead the industry as future experts.

“I think presentation is very important in our country and that is why I decided to take up this association,” she said.