The Newest Prada Darling Wants More South Asians Faces in the Industry

Images provided by IMG Worldwide | Shot by Jamie Hawkesworth

Ashley Radjarame was always told she should model but the shortage of familiar faces in magazine pages didn’t give her the assurance that particular dream could take place. “[Modeling] was in the back of my head, but I didn’t think that my profile could fit the industry. I’m happy to have been proven wrong,” Radjarame elatedly describes. Hailing from Rueil-Malmaison, the French new face was first discovered in London last year and was soon shipped off to Milan for an exclusive debut at Prada’s Spring 2020 show. The Italian brand has become a benefactor of sorts with back-to-back campaigns and a recent returning slot in the runway show last month. Fresh off a fruitful season and currently in lockdown, we spoke with the rookie on her experience working for the influential brand, the people who keep her motivated, and bringing attention to the dire need of scouting in the South Asian market.

Your first runway show was last season as an exclusive debut at Prada. How was that experience backstage?
I was like a kid so curious about everything that was going on. I used to always see how it works behind my computer and now being there it was unimaginable. I was really nervous obviously but really excited. My favorite part was exchanging with the creatives and waiting in line before walking with the pressure building in you.

How was your experience after doing your first season of shows?
A surreal experience, as I’m still studying, and I’m missing classes when I do shows. I really felt like a spy having a double life – it was really fun! I would miss class in the morning to do Lanvin at 8 am and go to school at 10 am like nothing. Otherwise, as a first season, I was really lucky to walk for big brands such as Prada, Lanvin, and Louis Vuitton. I’m really grateful that they believed in me.

Take us behind the experience of when you shot the Prada campaign?
It was incredible for the reason that my first campaign for Prada (Resort 2020) was my first job ever. Starting with Prada as a new face with no experience is a huge chance. I was captivated by the beauty of the clothes, jewelry, and all the bouquets of flowers. Impressed by the number of people on the set to implement this campaign but mostly BY the kindness of all these people who ensured our well-being. It was an unequaled experience to enter the fashion industry.

Where did you shoot and were you nervous at all?
The campaign was shot in the courtyard of The Courtauld Institute of Art in London. I was a bit nervous because as it was my first job and I wanted to do things right, but everything went smoothly so I was really happy and proud of myself at the end of the day.

What’s your favorite part about modeling – runway or photo shoots? Or is it equal?
Both, the energy is really different. On the runway, the energy is building up as you do the castings, then you get confirmed, you get your hair and makeup done, and finally when it’s time to get dressed and wait in line everyone is kind of hysterical (in a good way haha!) because everything needs to be perfect. Then the show begins and you hear the music and it’s time to go. I can’t describe this feeling it’s amazing. As for photoshoots, it’s much calmer. I love the fact that you have the time to meet people, get to know them as you spend hours with them. The coolest part is when you get to see bits of the result on the set and then the final product that you kept secret finally released and you can now finally share it.

What’s one thing that gives you confidence?
First, I will say self-love and secondly love from my family and friends. Mostly compliments from my little sister, she’s my biggest fan. I’m proud that I make her proud.

What do you think the biggest misconception about the modeling industry? What’s one thing you would change about it?
That the fashion industry only has two criteria to fit in, height and weight. If we look into the industry it’s evolving thankfully and they’re opening their boundaries about what beauty is. More body shapes and skin color are embraced now. Personally, before becoming a model I’ve never felt represented anywhere; with social media, for example, I really felt insecure. This industry helped me embrace what I look like and today I’m more than happy that some people can recognize themselves through me.

With the growth of more diversity, as it concerns me directly it would be nice to see more scouting of South Asians models (like Indians, Sri Lankan, Pakistani, Malaysians, Bangladeshi, Nepalis, and many more) because those people are not represented enough in this industry which is saddening.

What is something that you wish you knew before going into modeling?
When you don’t get a job don’t take it personally. Often, it’s only that you don’t correspond to their vision of the project and not that they don’t like what you look like. People will probably book you for another project in the future.

What advice would you give the next generation of models coming up?
To put forward your personality and not be afraid to raise your voice. You will have people’s eyes on you that may look up to you, so it’s important that you speak on the things that you support when you feel like things are not okay and make people aware of things that they may not know. Communication with people is an important link that needs to be fed.

What’s a dream job for you in fashion?
My dream job would be to be the new face of a perfume or a piece of makeup!

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