Lime interview - Events & Activities
Interview with Neeru Bhandari
EDITOR - Vernia Mengot
The International Asian Fashion Awards -‘the Oscars of the Asian fashion world
Now in its third year, The International Asian Fashion Awards (IAFA) are leading the way for the British South Asian fashion industry and putting Britain on the international map for the multi million pound industry. The only European awards of its kind, they have received continued support and championing from the pioneers of the South Asian couture fashion world internationally.
The awards arose from the passion and flair for business of Neeru Bhandari and Del Ghosal. Together, they created the IAFA ceremony to ‘honour success in style’, reflecting the unique elegance in Asian fashion. This month Lime spoke with model and co-founder Neeru about celebrating the pioneering work and success of individuals working within the Asian fashion industry.
When did you decide that you wanted to go into modelling?
It wasn’t a career that I had actively chosen to take. I was scouted on facebook! I was approached by a very respected modelling agency and I met with them, the rest is history. I have been modelling for the past 6 years and I love every aspect of it. It allows me to be a chameleon and experiment with my look with every shoot I do. I have worked and shot for both mainstream brands and designers including Harrods and also shot and walked for the biggest names in South Asian fashion too.
What has been you biggest challenge working in the industry?
Learning new skills is always a challenge and I like that. It keeps your mind exploring and active. Another challenge that I have personally taken upon myself is to educate and show Asian boys and girls that modelling is and can be a successful and profitable career. There are so many stigmas attached to the modelling game within the Asian community and I want to change that. I think that we can. Modelling is not a seedy career, it is well respected and great fun too!
Who do you admire in the fashion world?
I admire so many people from every element of the fashion world. It takes a lot of skills and a lot of different people to make the fashion world move. I have respect for models, choreographers, photographers, stylists, seamstresses, hair and make-up artists, production teams just as much as the designers themselves. I admire the new talent that are very hungry for success and are breaking through glass ceilings and also being fierce about getting their work out there.
What inspired you to make the transition from modelling to becoming a businesswoman?
My business partner Del Ghosal who also a founder of the International Asian Fashion Awards was a big inspiration. I had an idea of what I wanted to achieve and it’s with his help and guidance that the concept of the IAFA’s was born. We could both see that there was a gap in the market for a movement and an event that could push forward, highlight and celebrate South Asian fashion in the UK. We found that we are the only event across Europe to be able to deliver this show. It seemed a natural progression from modelling to then enter the other side – the business aspect of the fashion arena.
Tell us a bit about the events that will be taking place at the International Asian Fashion Awards.
The event itself is now in its third year and has gone from strength to strength in a short space of time. We could not have wished for any more fervent supporters of the cause. We have and continue to have the support of the top names in the business that carry the industry forward and now are also getting a lot of support from new comers in to the industry. The winning of an IAFA is coveted and we intend to keep pushing ourselves to ensure that is remains that way too. The main element of the awards on the 10th November is that there are categories that will be judged live on the night. This means that the three nominees in some of the categories will work with our team to present a live catwalk presentation of their collections on the night and the judges will select a winner live on the night. It’s very exciting and keeps the edge on the evening.
Has the IAF Awards been receiving a positive response so far?
Absolutely. The feedback and response has always been positive and we are working closely with the industry to make sure that every element of the event is presented to the best of our ability.
What do you hope to achieve from your efforts?
We want to both work to continue championing and celebrating success in the South Asian fashion world. The IAFA alumni is a new initiative that has been set up by us to give back to the new generation that are keen to get involved in the fashion industry. The alumni is made up of past winners and key supporter of the IAFA that provide an insight, will hold workshops and give real industry knowledge to the next generation. We wanted to give something back in the way of solidifying that the IAFA’s are more than just the ceremony once a year – we are interested in nurturing talent and innovation.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
So many. But launching the IAFA awards with Del has been the highlight.
What have you got lined up for next year?
We haven’t had a chance to get there yet we are completely focussed on delivering an excellent show this year. As always we will be looking to push the boundaries of the show, getting the word out and working with more and more designers and make-up artists.
What would you like to do to give back to the community?
We both want to show the community that firstly, you can make your dreams come true. The idea of the IAFA’s was a dream for me and we have worked to make it a reality. Secondly I want to show young aspiring models that the fashion industry is a good career path if you are willing to work hard to make it. I want to show the parents and families of young Asian models that the decision to model is a positive action and that it is an internationally recognised career path that can make dreams come true.
The International Asian Fashion Awards 2012 take place at the Hilton, Park Lane on the 10th November.
Tickets and tables are available from www.iafawards.com
Interview with Nirjay Mahindru