There’s no fixed paradigm toward defining beauty. But to break away from the conventional saying, “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”, it might be fair to reorient the assertion. Beauty is power that can appeal to people from limited ways of seeing and believing.
There are few things that carry this essential truth than androgyny beauty. Truth be told androgynous models add a distinct flair to beauty. They are unconventional and unassuming. They make modelling not only compelling but stand true to the core of its essence: eye-catching and full of aesthetic charm.
While androgynous models have been a huge draw for crowds, brands and marketers in the West, they are a rising trend in India.
So who are some of the known androgynous models in India that have been quietly doing their job albeit to little public attention?
1. Lemuel Huffman
At first, the name might just confuse people about it being associated with a Jewish diva, someone who might’ve shot to fame in the United States. But Lemuel Huffman is a Chennai-based beauty model in India and someone who’s a passionate advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.
With her chiseled, bronzed cheeks and pronounced jaw-line, Huffman shot to attention after appearing in Mumbai-based photographer and visual artist Ganesh Toasty’s photo shoot.
A fierce model who lends an efficacy to fabulous photo shoots, Lemuel has often worked as the muse of several photographers. Spurred by the great success and admiration for America’s Next Top Model, Huffman decided modeling was her calling after being serenaded by the famous reality show.
2. Kean Alvares
A known face in the sphere of androgynous modelling, Kean Alvares has been working steadily in an utterly competitive industry for quite some time. One of the rare few who’ve successfully straddled divergent art forms – make-up artistry and androgynous modelling – Alvares admits being smitten by the creative challenges make-up artistry throws.
He took to modelling at 18 after a chance meeting with fashion photographer Vikram Bawa and hasn’t ever looked back.
He’s made it far in the realm of modelling and has been featured in celebrated fashion publications such as Better Photography. Kean insists that his burning passion for modelling and his desire to take androgynous modelling to a respectable sphere keeps him going.
3. Rabanne Jamsandekar
Adding his own charm and flair to the ever-evolving fashion industry in India is Mumbai-based model Rabanne Jamsandekar. A rare talent who is adept at styling himself for shoots and campaigns, Rabanne shot to attention starring in HUF Magazine’s shoot highlighting gender-neutral love.
Famous designer Nikhil Mehra, speaking of his admiration for Rabanne Jamsandekar’s work, said, “While the 90s were about personifying male masculinity with men like Milind Soman in the centrefold, today’s times are about models like Rabanne Jamsandekar who represent a new idea of being who they are.”
4. Pooja Mor
An accomplished model and fashionista at 26, Uttar Pradesh-born Pooja Mor is among the popular and instantly recognisable androgynous fashion models in India.
With her natural ease in front of the camera and a very candid presence around it, Pooja Mor has added a new dimension to the realm of androgynous modelling in India.
Although she started out as a freelance model and some of her initial stints were in Delhi, she attained distinct heights such as being on the cover of Femina in 2013 and for pathbreaking stints with Elite New York.
A favourite with modelling agencies in India, Mor has added many feathers to her hat by appearing in covers for Vogue Italy, Verve India and Harpers Bazaar India.
5. TJ Singh
TJ Singh is one of the most sought after androgynous models in India. Gifted with an elegance that comes out beautifully in front of the camera, TJ Singh is a known face on Indian fashion runways now. But he’s not here just to make a career, he’s here to make a difference.
“There are certain perceptions about modelling that I wish to change through my work,” he told IWB. “For instance, one of the conventional ideas is that if I want to become a model I ought to have a ‘gym’ body. With all due respect to those models, it isn’t the absolute criterion. Even with regard to androgyny in the fashion world, it’s a vast domain, and I see myself somewhere close but do not completely associate with every aspect of it.”
6. Bhumika Arora
Tall, lithe and charming, Bhumika Arora has beautifully plucked out of a period of relative obscurity and is turning heads, in India and across the world. Established fashion publications like Vogue have gone on to state, “Bhumika radiates a confidence and beauty that is quite rare in a business populated by sameness.”
Just a few years ago, Bhumika harboured the quintessential dream to make it big, hailing from a relatively small city. Today, she has been labelled a supermodel. One of India’s newest supermodels and a charming addition to the list of androgynous models in India, Bhumika Arora has racked up appearances for Armani Prive, Fendi, Bottega Veneta and many more luxury and fashion brands.
In a creative industry, like fashion, there should be no room for stereotyping and convention. However, as with many things in India, androgynous models too face resistance on certain fronts. But these models are changing the game. And we couldn’t be happier about that!