Amrit on Artistic Freedom and Taking Modeling to New Heights

Photo by Alexander Black | Courtesy of DNA Models (New York)

To have secured a big break in 2020, models had to have a tenacious will to overcome the countless challenges presented. Countrywide lockdowns throughout Europe meant that most new faces had to relocate closer to the continent, risking being cut off from gigs in the States, or indefinitely skipping the runway debut altogether. Newly minted hot-lister Amrit certainly lucked out on timing — discovered on Instagram as she was transferring to the Paris College of Art, the Punjabi artist and poet who never thought she was tall enough had a stellar rise at her modeling side-gig after debuting on the Chloe runway, then going on to walk Jacquemus, Fendi and Dior. Since her rumble of a start, she’s appeared in editorials for Vogue Paris, Self Service, and landed a personal milestone with a Vogue India cover shot by Boo George. We spoke to the model about transforming her fellow models into art, how she got discovered, and how defying height standards might take modeling to new heights, but not how you might think.

Where are you from and how were you first discovered?
I’m from the land of five rivers – Punjab, India, where I lived a quiet life in the lap of nature. On that side of the world, fashion and this industry isn’t something within reach for most people living there but social media has changed everything. My mother agent stumbled upon a photo of my eyes on Instagram a few years ago, and ever since then, she had her eyes on me too, ha! Eventually, together, we began this journey last year.

When did you move to Paris and what led you to study at the Paris College of Art?
In India, I studied in a science school because of the pressure to conform to the standards set by society. A few years in, I ended up dropping out and took my time to explore something I felt more connected to, art. I decided to send my portfolio to PCA, got accepted, and moved to Paris a year and a half ago to pursue my artistic goals. I’d say that was one of the best decisions of my life.

How has living in Paris and being a model shaped your artistry?
Paris inspires me in many ways. I always say that the city is a walking canvas, with colourful streets, astounding architecture, and diverse people that hold the same impact as any masterpieces from Louvre or Musée d’Orsay. To live in such a city and then work in the fashion industry, which is a vast visual territory, I’ve sensed a new direction in my own body of work. With more freedom in my self-expression, modeling helped me to mold myself in directions; I didn’t think I was able to.

How would you describe your artistic style and what mediums are you drawn to?
My experiences have broadened my awareness about the need for a more universal approach to art & to leave more room for questions and discoveries. My idea has always been to hand you a piece of my vision and let you explore your own sight and perception out of it. Art is about communication and constant dialogue. It’s like offering tongue to words undiscovered. I like to communicate through different mediums. Painting and drawing have been my primary mediums, but this year I am set to explore more about sculpting after my recent trip to Mexico.

“…we all feel pain and healing in all the same ways, even if our wounds look different.”

Your IG page @amefonce is a collection of poetry and powerful affirmations. What inspires your writing?
Life is my main source of inspiration and nature shapes many of my thoughts and feelings that help me create. A few years ago, I was suffering from an injury and was unable to move too much physically, so I made that page where I could transfer everything that was going through me internally. The more I shared, the more I connected with people who found a home and hope in the same sources as I did – in writing and art. It also made me realize that we all feel pain and healing in all the same ways, even if our wounds look different.

How did it feel when you booked your first major editorial?
When I officially signed with my mother agency, I was still going to my art school. I’ve been very out of touch with fashion my whole life, mainly because I didn’t imagine myself going down this road. I didn’t realize how fashion would impact my life until I booked my first ever job, which happened to be an editorial for Vogue Paris. Suddenly, things started to flip, and I became a part of a whole different world than the one I was living in before, where I feared being in front of the camera.

How was the experience of walking in Milan and Paris fashion week for S/S 21?
To be transparent, I didn’t imagine myself ever ending up on the runway, especially when you think about the height standards. As it was my first season, I just let things unfold for themselves. To my surprise, I ended up walking Fendi and closing the Alberta Ferretti finale on the first day of MFW and walked shows in PFW. Runway has become one of my favourite aspects of this industry. The way you collectively get to tell the story of these wonderful collections is something that touches my spirit so deeply.

Congrats on your first Vogue India cover! How was the process of shooting that cover with Boo George?
I remember being in Sweden and getting a text from my mother agent about my Vogue cover shoot. For a moment I didn’t believe it, but everything happened so fast, and I was on the set of Vogue in Paris the next week with Boo who’s got the most fun energy. He let me offer my ideas and direction for the shoot as well which is important to me, especially being an artist. I prefer a collaborative environment rather than being treated like a prop.

What was your favorite shoot in 2020 and why?
Definitely the Miu Miu upcycled campaign. It represents a message we all need to stand for right now.

How did it feel apart of that Miu Miu upcycled campaign and how do you think fashion brands can take more steps to be more sustainable in 2021?
I’m very honoured to be part of this campaign. For all brands, the primary step is to realize that we don’t have much time to practice the same, harmful patterns and repeat the same mistakes. Sustainable fashion is not just a trend, it is a need. Time is urgently demanding our conscious actions towards these movements and fashion can no longer go on to promote strict consumerism. So, to see a change, we have to change our message. We have to create an environment that benefits our planet because eventually, we are destroying ourselves by destroying it.

Photo by Alexander Black | Courtesy of DNA Models (New York)

Which designers would you like to work with that you haven’t worked with already and why?
There are still so many rooms I have to walk into but one that is so dear to me is the one where Alessandro Michele is present. I’ve always wished to be a part of his surrealistic magical world [at Gucci] which also touches the sensibilities of nature, time, history, and artistic creativity. Fingers crossed on that one!

What goals would you like to accomplish this year and beyond?
I consider art to be my service & each year I have one main mantra – serve by creating and live by having more faith in the divine source. I’d affirm it this year too, especially when the current social and political climate can leave you feeling heavy with each passing day. I would want to spend more time in nature, making art, learning & sharing the little possibilities of the joy of life. Patience, empathy, and harmony are needed all the time. My internal goals aside, this year I want to learn to swim so I can talk more deeply to the ocean.

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