"I am just your regular girl next door, with a bit of a nutty personality thrown in." – Mariette Valsan
Mariette Valsan, the stylish fishlass in Bombay Times – Born Glamorous ad, is one of the most-beloved, most preferred faces for all shutter speeds. This aura of elegance and gentility was born in Kerala and mostly grew up in Delhi with a brilliant balance of North and South cultures. The camera kissed her and made her stand in the six top contenders for Kingfisher Calendar Girl 2012.
With her mascaraed beautiful big eyes, Valsan wowed the editorial covers of Vogue, Maxim, Elle India, Femina Magazine, Grazia, Discover India, Hair Magazine India, Creme Magazine and many more.
Besides saying ‘ahhhhh’ for Coca Cola and Finger lickin’ good for KFC, Valsan modelled for campaigns of Sony Cybershot, Garnier Colour Naturals, and J.W.Marriott. Other brands in her handbag include Urban Yoga, Shalimar Perfume France, Lechal (Ducere Technologies), Indigo Paints, Hyderabad Mall 6, Karleo Fashion, Crazi Darzi and RmKV Silks.
Here’s an IAD exclusive with the fun loving Malayali girl who speaks her mind, about glamour, and life in general.
Let’s start with your interest towards the job?
I am the personality type who always loved the spotlight. My convent education has played a huge part in shaping my personality. I always gravitated toward performing arts and sports in school and college.
What is the other side of Mariette that fashion editorials don’t reveal?
As clichéd as it sounds, I am just your regular girl next door, with a bit of a nutty personality thrown in. As passionate about the environment as I am about my craft, I try and do as much as possible.
A day in your life?
While my daily routine may vary depending on whether I am working or not that day, it always involves eating meals on time, doing a basic set of exercises and reading.
Why did you choose modelling over any other profession? What inspired you?
I honestly did not really choose it, it chose me. I had various instances of people telling me I should model throughout my school and college life, and when finally designer James Ferreira not only reiterated the sentiment when he met me, but also went out of his way to get me my first assignment which was a fashion week in Cochin, I felt this was a whole new adventure I would love to embark on.
How do you prepare yourself before a fashion shoot or a ramp walk?
I try and do my research on who I will be working with, and if I have prior knowledge of their working styles. It always helps to be able to adjust accordingly. I also ask as much as I can about the kind of shoot, what the expectations will be from me and what is the overall result expected so that I can mentally prepare myself, and then I just go have fun.
How much liberty does a model have during an assignment? Do you provide any creative inputs?
Very realistically, the creative decisions are left up to the creative people. We are at the execution end of the chain, and hence have to deliver what is asked of us. But having said that, how we choose to convey a particular emotion, expression and sentiment (especially in television commercials) is largely left up to us. Or maybe just I have been that lucky! 🙂
What’s the toughest job you have done till date and the one you are most proud of?
The entire ‘Hunt for the Kingfisher Calendar Girl 2012’ was the hardest thing ever because of all the different challenging tasks they put us through. Just to get one fabulous photograph. I learnt so much during that time, and it was pretty much like modelling boot camp. We had the two best models: Milind Soman and Ujjwala Raut mentoring us, so really couldn’t have asked of more.
One of my favourite shoots was for Vogue. It was the first time I really got to see how much preparation goes into an out of town fashion shoot, on such a grand scale.
What is the most rewarding part of being in the fascinating glam industry? And the thing you like least?
It is fabulous because I get to travel to so many places to shoot, and every day the industry is pushing itself, so hopefully I will get to be part of some daredevilry and iconic shoot in the future. The possibilities are endless, and that’s the most attractive thing about the industry. The hardest thing would be that faces and trends change so fast that one can be the hottest thing one day and be gone the next. So sometimes it is tough to know when to stick on and work hard, and when to give up and move on.
How has modelling impacted your personal life?
My friends think I lead this super glamourous life all the time, surrounded by fashionistas and glamour. While this is true when I am at work, regular life is pretty much the same. I try and take better care of my health of course, but other than that, life goes on.
Isn’t it hard to stay fit? How do you care your skin and beauty?
I’ve been a sportsperson since I was a little girl, and so that is my way of passing time. I love adventure sports and am lucky to have friends who think trekking in the monsoons is a perfectly regular way to spend the weekend, and our idea of a holiday is a ten day rafting trip. Other than that though, I run a few times a week, and alternate that with a bit of yoga. I drink lots of water, eat at home as much as possible, don’t drink alcohol and I don’t snack between meals. Else I eat what I want, but do everything in moderation.
What is your success mantra?
It is very difficult to take credit for whatever little success I may be having at this point. I’ve been lucky to have been in the right place and the right time, when dusky skinned models are more accepted, and the notions of beauty and fashion are opening up every day. To be in a time where people are more and more open minded and willing to experiment. I think what will keep anyone going is to be level-headed. Accept failures the same way you would accept success, and remember that hard work and a good attitude will take you a long way. But most importantly, be humble.
What’s your opinion about modelling as a business today and competition from stylish, foreign models?
I feel like the business is expanding in its scope and horizon every day. It is great when we have people who have international experience come and work here because the challenge to keep up to their level is greater, and India needs to open up as a global modelling field. I hope that as we become prominent, we will take the reins in defining the mantras that make a successful model and industry, rather than following those that have been pre-set internationally. I feel it is a great time to be around.
Who are some of your favourite models? Who are your favourite photographers and designers?
Lakshmi Menon is fabulous. And Lisa Haydon. My favourite designers and photographers keep changing depending on my current style, mood, but Shivan and Narresh are a permanent choice of designer.
If you weren’t a model…
I am a qualified English Literature and Corporate Communications professional. So, I would probably be working in a communications agency, busy doing PR for other companies.
What do you enjoy the most: commercials or fashion modelling or acting?
Acting. So far, having explored acting only in a short film and some commercials, definitely stepping into someone else’s shoes and be convincing about that character is the most fun. I would love to have the opportunity to explore that domain.
What is your style statement?
Relaxed. Whatever is the least effort and comfortable. I prefer simple lines, designs and block colours.
Best compliment you ever received?
That I am easy to work with.
Some TVCs of Mariette Valsan:
Mariette Valsan for Grey’s Anatomy on Star World India:
KFC – Dip to decide!
Garnier Color Naturals – No One Knows (Tamil TVC):
Old Spice India | Brainpower ad with Milind Soman:
Bombay Times – Born glamorous commercial (by Taproot India):
IAD wishes Mariette Valsan all the success in her ventures! You can find more of her work on Behance and Facebook.
– Interviewed by Wajendhar