Myra's Power Woman: Lakshmi Menon
Entering The Enigmatic World Of Lakshmi Menon
The 35-year-old supermodel talks about her high-flying world, the Prabuddha Dasgupta years and her epic career graph.
Fresh off a plane from Gao, the Bengaluru born five-feet-10-inch supermodel lets us into her surreal home in South Mumbai. It's a vintage looking space, with a courtyard in the centre with gravelled flooring, and the sky for a ceiling. Blending in with the pastel blue walls, Lakshmi Menon is comfortable in an oversized blue shirt and boyfriend jeans. Her short summer crop pulled back, her face dominated by clear aviators. I'm preoccupied by her chiselled jawline and measured motions as she takes a pull from a cigarette, blowing wisps of smoke into the air. Her mesmerising character is the reason she was picked by Jean Paul Gaultier in 2009 to walk for his Paris show.
Lakshmi is slaying it on the international runway, walking for Hermès, Givenchy, Stella McCartney, Chanel, Carolina Herrera, Michael Kors, Vera Wang and Ralph Lauren. After a bunch of global editorials and campaigns, Lakshmi is India's first export to the Pirelli calendar in 2011.
"You have to celebrate diversity in fashion. Today, your client is not only a white person. I love high fashion. If you look at haute couture, those are works of art. There is a huge amount of thought and attraction to detail that goes into making things that are so beautiful and desirable."
The few shows that Lakshmi does continue to walk for include: Riccardo Tisci, Jean Paul Gaultier, Dries Van Noten and Chanel. Lakshmi recollects one of her most elaborate appearances:
"There was this show I did for Hermès' India-centric collection. The whole background was an incredible vermillion, and once the show started, they started dropping sindoor. It was like a live red cascade. The tragedy was that all of us were covered in red by the end of it. We looked like we had played Holi!"
"Working with Prabuddha Dasgupta (celebrated photographer and her then partner) was the best. From that point I lost all my inhibitions in life. He could always create an intimate space between the model and the photographer I learnt how to recreate that with others too. Loss teaches you different things. It teaches you to learn to live with yourself. And then I fell in love with someone else. Sometimes I feel Prabuddha and I got jinxed, in the sense that everybody used to say: 'You guys are such a great couple.' 'You're the ideal couple' and I heard it so often that I finally felt (nazar hi lag gayi.) But it was beautiful while it lasted."
"Today's models are not just 16-years-old, there are also slightly older women like Alessandra Ambrosio, Karlie Kloss and Joan Smalls. It's not just about a pretty face any more. You have a bit more of a cerebral kind. Kate Moss is timeless in fashion and Christy Turlington is actively modelling. You have a representation of every age group. Now, I feel it's more democratic when you open a magazine."
It is apparent that Lakshmi enjoyed the current pace of her life. She is able to run her home, do her own groceries, enjoy the company of her three cats and 14 dogs, and hustle between New York, Paris, Mumbai and Goa. She does not own a weighing scale. All her beauty is much more than just skin-deep, she has an elusive quality that has developed over time.
"Darling, you look gorgeous, just be yourself. I've always been myself just validated it for me. The timing was perfect."