In an industry that’s rife with camps and jealousies, Ayaan is clear that her allegiances lie everywhere … and nowhere. “I’m an all-rounder and have done everything from print to commercials to shows,” she says. “I’m a freelancer and have worked with all the photographers and they all give me work so I don’t like to take just one name and offend others,” says Ayaan.
Unlike many other models, she has stayed away from the camps that are endemic to the industry, an industry in which fashion photographers are also de facto modelling agencies in and of themselves. She’s also been a contender for the Lux Style Awards for the last two years running. Nominated for Best Emerging Talent, a category that lumps every kind of fresh talent under one label, she lost out to Feeha Jamshed last year. This year, she’s up for Best Female Model, something that considerably narrows the field.
“My achievement as a model can be easily assessed by how successful my covered hair shampoo advertisement has been,” points out Ayaan. “People from all over the world have appreciated that campaign and all you can see is my face!”
Given that the essential bare-bones role of a model is to be a clothes hanger and a showcase for fashion accessories, it is truly remarkable that Ayaan has managed to shine in an advertisement where all she has to communicate with is her face.
And with that very versatile face, Ayaan can easily foray into television, a territory that uber-models like Tooba Siddiqui, Aaminah Haq, Vaneeza Ahmed and Nadia Hussain have ventured into with varying degrees of success. So is the siren call of the small screen luring her in? “I would like to stick to one thing right now,” says Ayaan. “I want to concentrate on modelling right now and if a great project comes along I’ll pursue it seriously. My sense of work is very different from others. I’m a trendsetter in everything that I do and if I appeared on screen, I would want to do something new.”
Such self-confidence and clarity in someone so young has possibly come from the fact that she has left no stone unturned and done literally everything that has come her way, leading many in the industry to feel that she has become overexposed too soon. “I feel she’s come in very quick,” says Freiha Altaf, head of the modeling agency Catwalk and a former model who has run the whole fashion gauntlet herself. “I feel she’s a bit overexposed but is one of those naturally beautiful faces. It will take her a few years though to reach that supermodel status even though for me she’s more of a supermodel than anyone else with that title these days, given her vast portfolio of work,” says Frieha.
Prolific or too pervasive — that’s a matter of perspective. Ayaan feels proud of her body of work, saying, “There’s really no avenue that I haven’t undertaken. So nothing’s a challenge for me anymore. I have proved myself in every quarter and medium. Nobody works like me — I’m very hardworking.”
She may be blowing her own trumpet but retailers and designers alike will justify how enterprising and forthright she is. “You can’t go wrong with her, basically,” says fashion retailer Shehernaz Hussain admiringly. “She’s great to work with: no complaints, she’s flexible when it comes to timings or concepts or even people to work with. I’ve done multiple shoots with her including rushed one-day shoots and I think what I really appreciate about working with her is that can-do, positive attitude and the fact that she never has any diva-like tantrums or nakhras.”
This professionalism has helped her in garnering strings of projects. “The fact that she’s a model hasn’t gotten to her head,” says veteran designer Deepak Perwani. “Her face and figure is fabulous and she knows exactly what I want and delivers it. These other younger models haven’t even made the cut in the industry and they already have their heads in the clouds.”
Now that she’s worked with and wowed all and sundry on the local front, the next step for Ayaan would be, quite naturally, to go international. “I want to model for Gucci and Armani,” she says, adding that she has already been given the title of ‘Miss Calvin Klein’ and declared brand ambassador for their perfume Beauty. With her exceptional work ethic and constant presence in the industry, it is surprising that she hasn’t already ventured abroad.
“I have done work abroad,” admits Ayaan. “But it’s not big enough for me to boast about.” And it is this candidness that one finds endearing about this cherub-faced model. If there’s a ‘girl next door’ in this industry who understands the words humility and perseverance, it is Ayaan. She stands against the tanned beauty, Rabia Butt, an equally strong contender for the Lux Style Award for Best Female Model this year and if she bags this prize, then surely Ayaan would have conquered all.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, September 4th, 2011.
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