Get to Know Chanel’s New Desi Models From the Paris–Bombay Show

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Photo: Antoine_de_Parseval/ANTOINE_de_PARSEVAL/ANTOINE_de_PARSEVAL

Karl Lagerfeld's Paris–Bombay pre-fall collection for Chanel, which walked this week, made an impact, not only with the miniature trains chugging along the banquet tables where guests sat and the faux-dreadlocks some models wore. It also made an impact because the show's cast included an unusually high number of models of South Asian origin. These women have enjoyed even less visibility on runways and in fashion editorials than models from Korea, China, and Japan; Lakshmi Menon, and before her, Ujjwala Raut, are extremely rare exceptions. And Chanel is a house that went years without casting so much as a black model in their fashion shows until the spring 2012 season, when Joan Smalls walked. Menon, who wore two looks in the show, tells us in an e-mail that the pre-fall casting "was all such a secret that I only realized there were other Indian girls when I was backstage on the day of the show! It was so wonderful to see so many beautiful women from this part of the world." In the slideshow, see the South Asian ladies who walked, including new Victoria's Secret model, Shanina Shaik.