It’s been two decades since Lakshmi Rana first walked the ramp. The Indian supermodel’s career has now come full circle as she sets up Wilderbee Talent Camp, an inclusive platform for aspiring young models. By Rashima Nagpal
What’s the thought behind Wilderbee Talent Camp?
It is India’s first talent camp with the mission to break the mould of perceived perfection and encourage the concept of body positivity, inclusivity, and acceptance—not only in the fashion industry but also as a fundamental WOMEN’S DAY special concept. Our tailored modules focus on the skill set of a modelling aspirant, along with a comprehensive understanding of the business, finding a niche, personal branding, industry insights, financial management, agency contracts, and the know-how of international modelling.
You’ve gone from being an aspiring model once to training them. Tell us about the journey.
I feel like life has come full circle. My journey has been a constant process of learning and unlearning. I have learned the hard way that discipline cannot be compromised; it’s the bedrock of everything that follows in your path towards success. Modelling has changed in the sense that there are more opportunities for everybody and it is considered a respectable profession now. However, the pay grade for freshers is still very low, and that needs to improve.
Who are the women you look up to in the industry?
There have been many, largely because of the kindness they showered on newcomers. That’s what I try to do with the freshers I’ve been training. To name a few, I would say [veteran choreographer] Vidyun Singh, [supermodel] Madhu Sapre, and [hairstylist and make-up artist] Ambika Pillai.
A stereotype you’d like to break?
I’d like to break the norms of perfection in beauty. I feel that unconventional people—plus-sizes or petites, transgenders, the ones with interesting faces and characteristics—should get the chance to represent themselves.
Your work takes you places. Tell us about the most exciting ones.
I have travelled the whole world during my career. One of the nicest places has been Milan, which is the pinnacle of fashion, and where I’ve walked for Sabyasachi and Tarun Tahiliani at the Milan Fashion Week. Be it New York, Rome, or Australia, each place and show has been special in its own way.
Some of the most underrated places you’ve explored?
There are places in India that are incomparable, like Nagaland, Ladakh, Daman and Diu, parts of Kerala and even Madhya Pradesh. I feel we haven’t discovered our own country yet.
Places you’re yet to check off your bucket list?
Next on my list are the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
A message for your daughter, and young girls like her.
The most important relationship is with your own self, and that’s something you need to take care of first before you get into any kind of relationship with anybody else.