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"Entering the world of limelight and glamour was never something I had envisioned for myself," shares supermodel Vartika Singh,

Hailing from Uttar Pradesh, Vartika Singh captured the nation's attention when she was crowned Femina Miss India Grand International in 2015. While becoming a supermodel, was not Vartika's childhood dream, the accidental career path unfolded unexpectedly. In 2019, Vartika hit a major milestone when she was crowned Miss Universe 2019 and ever since has become a familiar face in the Indian fashion scene. She recalls the moment as "one filled with pride and gratitude."

Today, Vartika Singh is leading the way being the IT campaign girl for leading Indian designers, like Sabyasachi, Ritu Kumar, Wendell Rodricks, Tarun Tahiliani, S&N by Shantnu Nikhil, Falguni Shane Peacock, Siddartha Tytler, Seema Gujral, Payal Singhal and many more. However, she finds herself drawn to the work of Tarun Tahiliani. "His artistic vision revolves around portraying women and the essence of femininity through delicate drapes and sophisticated colour palettes. Working with Tarun feels like being part of a family, where creativity and camaraderie intertwine seamlessly."

In an exclusive interview, Vartika Singh reflects on her journey to success and aspirations for the future.

Vartika, your rise to fame has been nothing short of spectacular. Could you share with us the defining moments that propelled you into the limelight?

My journey has been incredibly adventurous. Entering the world of limelight and glamour was never something I had envisioned for myself. It all began as an accidental career path that unfolded unexpectedly. The pivotal moment came when I secured my first placement with the World Bank during my professional tenure. It was then that I realized a profound need for more fulfilment in my life. By sheer chance, I found myself participating in Miss India, completely unaware of where this decision would lead me.

Reflecting on your journey during Miss Universe 2019, what were some of the most memorable experiences you had, and what challenges did you encounter along the way?

Wow, it's been a fantastic journey. From the moment I was crowned, it was a whirlwind of experiences and emotions. Amidst the flurry of preparations, I embarked on a meaningful journey with Smile Train, an organization dedicated to providing cleft palate surgeries to children, restoring their smiles and confidence. Travelling to various cities, including Pondicherry and Delhi, I had the privilege of meeting these resilient children, hearing their stories, and marching alongside them in parades. These encounters left an indelible mark on me, fueling my passion for making a difference in healthcare. Of course, being crowned Miss Universe India was an unforgettable moment—one filled with pride and gratitude.

However, the international pageant brought its own set of challenges. As hundreds of girls adorned in their finest attire gathered on stage, anticipation filled the air. When the top 20 contestants were announced, and my name wasn't among them, I felt a moment of doubt. But then, as they announced the wildcard entries, I was overwhelmed with joy to be selected. The sight of Indian flags waving in the audience, and the tricolour backdrop behind me, filled me with immense pride. It was a reminder of the honour and responsibility of representing my country on a global stage. Moments like these, amidst the challenges and uncertainties, remind me of the immense joy and pride that come from representing one's nation on an international platform. They serve as a testament to the resilience and spirit of those who contribute to our nation's pride, whether they be soldiers, athletes, or ambassadors like myself.

Being a model undoubtedly comes with its own set of challenges. From your perspective, what do you find to be the most difficult aspect of being in the industry?

My journey in the modelling industry has been quite a roller coaster ride. After my stint in Miss India, where I was praised for being photogenic and landed several sponsor shoots, I ventured into the industry with high hopes. However, reality hit hard when I found myself struggling to secure work independently. There were moments when I contemplated returning to my hometown - Lucknow convinced that this career path wasn't meant for me. But then, fate intervened when at a top well-known magazine party where I was spotted and offered to do its cover. This later led to my next cover shoot for yet another top fashion magazine. From that moment on, my journey took off like a whirlwind. While the journey has been magical, it's also been rife with challenges.

One of the most difficult aspects of being in this industry is navigating through periods of self-doubt and uncertainty. There are highs and lows, moments of abundance and moments of scarcity. It's crucial to maintain a strong sense of self and not succumb to comparisons with others. I've learned that you can only strive to be the best version of yourself and bring your unique qualities to the table. Insecurity can be debilitating, and it's something I've grappled with myself. Whether it's feeling inadequate because of height or other perceived shortcomings, it's essential to remember that success in this industry ultimately boils down to self-acceptance and confidence. As my journey unfolded, I realized that none of these perceived shortcomings mattered when the work started pouring in. The key is to be comfortable in your own skin and trust in your abilities above all else.

Every aspiring model has someone they look up to in the industry. Is there a supermodel whose career you greatly admire, and do you harbour hopes of one day sharing the camera/career path with them?

There have been numerous Indian supermodels from the past, like Ujjwala Raut, who has walked for Victoria's Secret, and Lakshmi, among others, who have truly made us proud with their remarkable careers. However, it's unfortunate that the era of supermodels in India seems to have dwindled, overshadowed by the dominance of Bollywood. In today's context, I find inspiration in international supermodels like Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, and Zendaya, who have carved out illustrious careers in the industry. They've demonstrated that it's possible to pursue your passion and be recognized for your work amidst the ever-evolving landscape of fashion and entertainment. For me, it's about more than just financial success—it's about finding fulfilment in the work I do and being acknowledged for it. The prospect of someday sharing the camera or career path with these accomplished women is both exciting and aspirational. It would be an incredible opportunity to collaborate with them on a campaign and further contribute to the legacy of iconic supermodels.

Transitioning from pageantry to high fashion can be quite challenging. What were some of the adjustments you had to make during this transition, and how did you navigate these changes?

These are two separate worlds, to be honest, and they parallelly exist! In pageantry, the emphasis is on embodying a flawless, glamorous image at all times—whether it's waking up with voluminous hair, and glossy lips, or gracefully navigating the day in high heels and bodycon dresses. However, in the realm of modelling, the focus shifts entirely to fulfilling the client's vision and the shoot's intent. Initially, I found it challenging to adapt to this shift in perspective. I vividly remember one campaign where the makeup artist opted for minimal makeup and left my naturally wavy hair untouched. At that moment, I was on the verge of tears, feeling inadequate without the customary makeup, hair extensions, and false eyelashes that were staples in pageantry. It was a journey to overcome the ingrained belief that beauty equates to heavy makeup and glamour. Moreover, there's often a preconceived notion that pageant contestants exude a certain demeanour or body language, which may not necessarily align with the versatility required in modelling. Overcoming these perceptions required patience and self-assurance, as I strived to redefine my identity beyond the confines of pageantry. Despite the challenges, navigating this transition was an enriching experience. It pushed me to confront my preconceptions and embrace the diversity and authenticity that high fashion demands. It's a journey of self-discovery and growth—a journey that I'm grateful to have embarked upon.

Among the array of talented designers you've collaborated with, is there one in particular whom you absolutely love working with? What sets this designer apart for you?

Throughout my career as a model, I've had the privilege of collaborating with numerous talented designers, including many of India's leading names. What strikes me about each of them is their unwavering passion for their craft and their desire to carve out unique identities in the industry. While it's challenging to single out just one, I find myself drawn to the work of Tarun Tahiliani. His artistic vision revolves around portraying women and the essence of femininity through delicate drapes and sophisticated colour palettes. Working with Tarun feels like being part of a family, where creativity and camaraderie intertwine seamlessly. Additionally, Sabyasachi Mukherjee stands out as a true icon in the world of fashion. Witnessing his dedication and hands-on approach on set is truly inspiring. Despite his towering success, Sabyasachi remains deeply involved in every aspect of the creative process, from composition to styling. His commitment to maintaining the highest standards of quality is nothing short of admirable.

Diversity and inclusivity have become increasingly important topics in the fashion world. How do you see your role as a supermodel influencing or contributing to these conversations?

Addressing diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry is a nuanced and multifaceted issue—one that requires both sensitivity and pragmatism. While I wholeheartedly support the movement towards greater representation and acceptance of all body types, abilities, and backgrounds, I believe it's essential to approach these conversations with a balanced perspective. I am someone who values hard work and honesty, and I believe that while inclusivity is undoubtedly a positive development, it should not be used as a justification for complacency or laziness. It's important to acknowledge that certain factors, such as medical conditions or natural body shapes, may limit individuals' ability to conform to traditional beauty standards. In such cases, providing opportunities and representation for diverse bodies is imperative. However, it's equally important to recognize the efforts of those who work tirelessly to maintain their physique and excel in their careers. Diversity and inclusivity should not serve as an excuse for individuals to bypass hard work or accountability. It's about striking a balance between celebrating uniqueness and recognizing the value of dedication and effort. Ultimately, my role as a supermodel is to advocate for authenticity, integrity, and fairness within the industry. By promoting a culture of inclusivity while upholding standards of excellence, I hope to contribute to meaningful and constructive conversations surrounding diversity in fashion.

Looking ahead, what are some of your aspirations or goals within the fashion industry? Are there any particular projects or collaborations you're excited about pursuing in the future?

Reflecting on my journey thus far, I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with some of the most esteemed brands within India. It has truly been a dream come true, and I'm immensely grateful for the experiences I've had. However, as I set my sights on the future, my aspirations extend beyond borders. I aspire to explore opportunities with international brands, expanding my horizons and pushing the boundaries of my career. There are certain iconic brands that I've long admired and envisioned myself representing, such as Dior Beauty and Gucci, among others. These are not just projects or collaborations to me—they are aspirations that I'm actively working towards manifesting. 

Lastly, if you could choose one Indian and one international designer to collaborate with, who would they be and why? What about their designs or ethos resonates with you?

While I've had the privilege of working with many esteemed Indian designers, if I were to choose an international designer, I'd have to pick two, if that's alright. As I mentioned earlier, Dior holds a special place in my heart. There's something about Dior that deeply resonates with me, as I mentioned earlier. Whether it's their impeccably sculpted silhouettes or their talent for designing exceptionally feminine clothing. On the other hand, I'm drawn to the iconic campaigns of Guess. There's something inherently glamorous and nostalgic about their 90s-inspired aesthetic that speaks to me. I admire the way they effortlessly blend sophistication with a hint of retro allure, creating visuals that are both striking and memorable. Additionally, I've been really impressed by Gucci's recent campaigns and designs. They have a great knack for connecting with the global markets/audience. In essence, collaborating with these international brands would not only be a dream come true but also an opportunity to explore different facets of my own style and identity within the global fashion landscape.


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