Being South Indian, I quietly championed the Bangalore-born, Lakshmi Menon (here, on the most recent Michael Kors runway) when I first spotted her in a spring 2008 Hermes campaign where she posed alongside a duo of elephants. Up until that point I had never even seen anyone who remotely looked like me in a major fashion publication. I was even more smitten when I glimpsed the exotic stunner in person when she dropped by the W offices for a casting. The 26-year-old broke into the international arena just two years ago, when she walked the spring 2008 Jean Paul Gaultier and Hermes runways. She's since landed a slew of ad campaigns (fall 2008 Givenchy, spring 2009 MaxMara) and editorials (Vogue, V, Dazed & Confused). I finally got my chance to chat up the brainy beauty -- she has a bachelor's degree in developmental sociology -- after New York fashion week.
From left: Hermes Spring 2008 campaign, Max Mara Spring 2009 campaign.
What has been your favorite look this season?
I loved all of Derek Lam's collection. It was feel-good, bold and colorful, and the navy blue crepe blouse and the floral high waisted skirt were my favorites. I also adored my little red dress at Jason Wu.
What are your must-haves when prepping for a show?
Water, Blackberry, iPod, music by Kings of Convenience and a good book.
From left: Jason Wu Spring 2010, Derek Lam Spring 2010.
What shows are you most excited about?
Givenchy, Rick Owens, Stella McCartney, Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garcons, to name a few.
What are the best things you've ever gotten in a post-show goody bag?
A Givenchy jacket and Alexander Wang tees.
Above: Givenchy Fall 2008 campaign.
You're one of the few Indian models working internationally --
It's sad. I am very grateful to Riccardo Tisci and Jean Paul Gaultier who really gave me my first real break to be a part of the western fashion industry. I wish there were more Indian girls in international fashion. Hopefully, that will all change with India and other Southeast Asian economies becoming new, emerging markets.
There are a lot of talented fashion designers out of India these days. Which ones stand out in your mind?
I'm very fond of Savio Jon, Rajesh Pratap Singh and Hidden Harmony!
From left: Carolina Herrera Spring 2010, Menon backstage.
What other career plans do you have?
If I weren't modeling, I would pursue my masters in developmental sociology.
What is the first thing you do to unwind after a show?
Take a warm bath and get a good night's rest.
Above: Menon on the cover of Vogue India May 2009.
Photos: WWD staff