Camaraderie over fashion

Among the many industries that COVID-19 shook at its arrival were the fashion and tourism industries. But like obstinate bulls recharging for an attack, both the industries have got on a semblance of recovery.

Now to boost that progress further, the 19th edition of the Kingfisher Calendar, shot by photographer Atul Kasbekar, is being launched pan India. The calendar introduces five new models — Gehna Mahiarya, Kritika Babu, Anukreethy Vas, Adline Castelino and Sumita Bhandari.

The highlight of this calendar, however, is not only the gorgeous women on it but also the stunning locales it was shot in—the southern shores of Kerala. Here’s a snippet of our conversation with the models and the veteran photographer himself, who share their experiences at the shoot and their hopes for fashion in 2021.


A one-of-a-kind experience

For photographer Atul Kasbekar, shooting the high-glam calendar in Kerala was a one-of-a-kind experience, but it had to do with more than the beauty and serenity around. “Given the fact that there is a flourishing Malayalam film industry in Kerala, people are well-versed with the photographic process and lighting equipment. So, it was a smooth experience to shoot there,” he said.

Atul then shared his perspective on the fashion industry. “I believe there’ll be a lot of stress on numbers, and though I anticipate things will pick up all around, retail might be a sore point. It’s possible that models lose income they’d have normally made from fashion shows and appearances or not have any kind of increase in their remunerations, too.”


Positive about the future

South Indian actress and model Kritika Babu tells us that she had a great time working with the team and other models at the breath-taking locations in Kerala.

Kritika talked about how the pandemic affected different industries and businesses globally. “As the pandemic has affected the entire world, I am shocked at how the fashion industry revived itself. Surprisingly, I think a lot of people were trying to aggressively get back to work and get back into the market. 2020 was a shock I felt the fashion industry was a goner but it revived; like the fashion week was digital and it happened with a lot of precautions.

“The year 2020 was a shocker. I thought the fashion industry was a goner, but it it revived itself. Even fashion weeks went digital, taking place with lots of precautions. I believe fashion will always find its way and I’m quite excited about what 2021 has in store for the industry as a whole. I am very positive.”


We won’t have as many events as we did, in terms of fashion shows and weeks, but this has all gone digital like what we saw in the past 8-9 months. I am quite excited about what 2021 has in store for the models and the industry as a whole

A pause for sustainability

For Miss Diva Universe 2020, Adline Castelino, Kingfisher Calendar represents glamour and great times, and shooting for it during the pandemic was surreal. “We had the time of our lives shooting, without ever taking anybody’s safety for granted. Overall, it was a fabulous experience,” says Adline. “I think going forward, the fashion industry will ensure every model’s health and safety is prioritised over anything else.” Adline also speaks of inclusivity in the industry but that beyond just race and colour. “Inclusivity is a new perspective to beauty and fashion, but it will also have to include sustainability and our relationship with the environment and the world. I think that would be the future of the industry,” she chips in.


Fashion for all

It was a truly memorable experience for model Gehna Mahiarya to be a part of the prestigious calendar, she tells us. While talking about celebrating the Indian woman and beauty in all forms, Gehna points us to inclusivity in fashion.

“Inclusivity is about accepting everyone and giving everyone a chance at being visibile, which hasn’t been the case in the fashion industry. It’s still largely about thin and white models,” she states, adding that the inclusivity concerns, however, don’t date to recent times, as most of us imagine. “It goes back much further, when Jean-Paul Gaultier and John Galliano proclaimed way back — through several of their iconic shows — that fashion comes from the street. In the last two years, however, more dark-skinned models have started growing in demand, even walking numerous ramps. This could be a start to a new and exciting journey.”


Wrapping around fashion

Model Sumita Bhandari, an NIFT graduate and 2018 Miss India finalist, is grateful she’s one of the faces of the Kingfisher Calendar this year. “We shot in the most beautiful state of India with amazing beaches, glorious coconut trees, and it didn’t feel like work at all,” she says. While speaking of 2021, she points out how thanks to the lockdown the fashion industry has turned digital, adding that now models may even get opportunities via their social media connections with brands.

Sumita believes fashion can empower. “Also, the concept of sustainable fashion, which is catching on around the world, would be great for our environment while helping home-grown brands grow,” she states. “But I hope for the industry to evolve further, with more inclusivity and acceptance because fashion cannot be based on gender or colour.”


Positive times ahead

The Kingfisher Calendar 2021 shoot for model and Femina Miss India 2018 Anukreethy Vas was her first bikini shoot. And it was a dream-come-true for her especially because it happened in the most unexpected year.

“I won’t change a thing about the shoot because everything about it was amazing — from the team and the photographer to everyone who ensured we felt safe and comfortable,” she says excitedly. “I had a great experience in Kerala — the location, the food, the shoot… everything was perfect.” Anukreethy believes that the fashion scene in 2021 has much in store especially because of how all of 2020 just went by. “Even the notion of beauty has undergone a sea change given how the industry is more open to dusky models, plus-size models and others. And many in the industry are scouting for fresh and talented models not from the industry. 2021 will be good for all,” she adds.