Indian Models the New Flavor of the Month

Not that Padma Lakshmi needed any help in ensnaring her next billionaire boyfriend, but this can't hurt: Indian models are apparently the next big thing in the modeling world, an industry that is finally recognizing "their potential and versatility in selling high fashion," reports ABC News. Willowy Brazilians Gisele Bundchen and Adriana Lima? They're so five minutes ago as advertisers and editors book new faces from the subcontinent like September Harper's Bazaar cover girl Kangana Dutta and Ford model Lakshmi Menon, who's been in recent campaigns for Hermes and Givenchy.

"We're clearly having a moment," Padma admits, and recalls that when she began modeling, people "were so unfamiliar with Indian faces that they didn't know if I was mixed, or Brazilian or Indonesian or maybe Hawaiian... Many times, they would book me when they were looking for someone quote-unquote exotic." Whereas now, brands realize that with America and Europe broke, their burgeoning numbers of "exotic" customers in Asia and the Middle East will be keeping them afloat.

But not everyone's so thrilled with this this sudden labeling of an entire nationality as fashionable. Says an irritated Simon Doonan: "We're talking about a country where women wear pink saris and jewels just to do ordinary tasks. It seems like a no-brainer to me. I can't believe people are touting it as a new thing. Style and India are inseparable. Go to an Indian wedding, hello."

Indian Models: Fashion's Next Love Affair? [ABC]