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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 November, 2003, 16:09 GMT
Indian beauty on top of the world
By Salim Rizvi in New York

Her dusky looks and svelte figure have launched countless products, and she is on the cover of almost every posh fashion magazine.

Saira Mohan has been on the cover of most fashion magazines
Saira Mohan is one of the top models in the world today.

Newsweek magazine recently called the 25-year-old the "new global standard of beauty".

What's different about this model is she's of Indian descent - and says she's the first of many to come.

Ms Mohan, whose father is Punjabi and mother Irish-French, was born and raised in Canada.

Her career kicked off famously at the age of 13 when she was "discovered" at an Elite modelling contest in Los Angeles.

Then she went on to do her first job - a 28-page fashion spread for Elle magazine in Bali, Indonesia.

Ms Mohan, clearly, has not looked back since.

She has modelled for brands like Versace, Wonderbra, L'Oreal, Victoria's Secrets, Marks and Spencer and Mercedes.

"I have done it all," Ms Mohan told BBC News Online.

Loving India

"I have worked with every supermodel, designer and major fashion magazine."

SAIRA MOHAN
Saira Mohan
I feel like an Indian goddess when I am wearing a sari
India fascinates her, says the Manhattan-based model.

She has visited the country several times on holiday - Kerala is her favourite destination - with her American stock-investor husband.

"If India was a stock, I would buy the hell out of it. I see beauty everywhere in India - even in her chaos," said Ms Mohan.

"To not like India is to not like yourself. I have a great slogan for [tourism] to India: Visit India - and meet yourself for the first time."

Ms Mohan enjoys wearing Indian clothes and is keen to walk the ramp in them.

She even wore an Indian sari on the catwalk recently in Chicago.

"It was the first time I wore a sari. Indian saris are not well known outside the country. It is a shame because they are so beautiful," said Ms Mohan.

"I feel like an Indian goddess when I am wearing a sari."

Bollywood dreams

Ms Mohan, who studied film and television at New York University, is eyeing acting opportunities in Bollywood.

There was a time when the idea of an African or a Latin American international model was a strange one. [So] just hold your horses - it's just around the corner for India!
Saira Mohan
"I have been overwhelmed with offers, but I am waiting for the right project," she said.

"Let's be honest: a good Bollywood film is great, a bad one is utter hell to watch."

She has already landed a role in a feature film to be produced in New York, and plans to dabble in some television journalism.

Ms Mohan says she relaxes by painting and writing.

She has even written a book - called: How to seduce and (marry) the woman of your dreams.

Three years ago, she exhibited 28 paintings in New York, some of which are now on display in banks and restaurants.

Ms Mohan says Indian girls can make a mark on the world fashion scene.

"There was a time when the idea of an African or a Latin American model was a strange one. [So] just hold your horses - it's just around the corner for India!"


SEE ALSO:
The hunt for India's Claudia Schiffer
21 Jul 03  |  South Asia
Indian fashion takes hold
19 Feb 02  |  Business


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