The Rise and Rise of Ashley Radjarame
Proenza Schouler, Lanvin, Louis Vuitton, Chloe, Jason Wu, Khaite, Jil Sander — for model star Ashley Radjarame, walking the world’s coolest catwalks is just one more day at the office. The 21-year-old Indian model, born and raised in Rueil-Malmaison, France, made her debut with the Prada Resort 2020 campaign at the age of 19, catapulting her meteoric rise in the modeling industry.
And it all started with a vintage shopping spree that she took to Brick Lane in London.
“I was studying international business in London and doing an internship in a café at the time. My casting agent saw the side of my face as she walked past a vintage market. She told me later that she didn’t even have her glasses on when she spotted me, ”Radjarame told me during a Zoom call from France.
You can’t blame her. Radjarame is striking. Thick eyebrows, a strong muscular jaw, thoughtful eyes, a unique look that many brands have bet on. “This Prada Girl” has now walked for more than 30 catwalks and has appeared in campaigns for Mango, Fendi, Chanel Beauty, Louis Vuitton and cult London label Supriya Lele. But the future is not yet written. “I don’t know where I will be in five or ten years, but I hope that I will be happy and proud of all that I have accomplished, doing a job that I love. In ten years, I wish to have a family.
During a curvy conversation, we discuss her love for Marvel TV shows and French Caribbean music, how she’s learning to reconnect with her Indian roots, and colorism as a cause she would love. to support.
Excerpts from the interview below:
Akanksha Kamath: Hi Ashley! It’s so good to talk to you. How have you been How have you been feeling over the past 18 months?
Ashley Radjarame: I’ve been gardening, growing my own veg and waiting to get back on track.
AK: Tell us about your heritage. When did your family move to France and how often do you return to India?
AR: My parents are from Tamil Nadu. My mother arrived in France at the age of 25. Her father was in the French army, so she inherited her nationality. Our whole family emigrated here and I was born in France. I have both cultures in me, Indian and French, but sometimes it’s a kind of identity crisis. The only Indian reference I have here is my family.
AK: You also have a younger sister. How old is she? What are his interests?
AR: She’s sixteen and so talented. She is a self-taught ukulele player and she sings very well too.
AK: What are you doing to feel connected to your Indian roots and culture?
AR: We eat Indian food everyday, we oil our hair, we wear our Indian clothes for Diwali – we do all the religious traditions, it’s just that we’re not in India. My mom tries to make us feel as Indian as possible. The culture of India is so vast, so it’s a bit difficult, but the older I get the more interested in learning more about my culture. When you’re younger you sort of push it away. I wish I hadn’t done this, but now I’m starting to change that.
AK: How do you change it?
AR: I am a religious person. So at the moment I am buying a lot of books on Hinduism. We have so many gods in our religion, and I don’t really know how to explain it to everyone, so we have to learn first.
AK: You are passionate about vintage. When and how did your love for the pre-loved one manifest?
AR: Like all children, my mom bought for me growing up. She always believed that there were real nuggets in flea markets. Like most children, I admired my mother’s style. It would perfectly blend Indian heritage and French culture. She wore crop tops or long skirts with Indian gold jewelry, creating a cultural mix and a match. It was very cool.
AK: Where do you buy your vintage pieces?
AR: Not Paris, everything is so overpriced there! I prefer to go to small towns. I love vintage. I have always hated new shoes. I like it when the shoes are a bit torn and not like new. And I love that every vintage piece has a story behind it. My favorite pieces are those of Vivienne Westwood, especially the painted corsets.
AK: Let’s talk about this Prada moment. Was it surreal?
AR: I started my career with the Prada campaign, it’s amazing! It was amazing to see Miuccia Prada. I was a fangirl. She’s there to talk to you and take care of you, and all you can think of is, “Is she really talking to me?” I absolutely loved it. I love working with new brands and new teams, it’s always super exciting. The slopes are where you feel a surge of euphoria. It’s surreal to think that you’re just someone from a small town and the next day you’re shooting for British Vogue and then Vogue India.
AK: There are so many conversations about how the industry is becoming inclusive. Is this your experience?
AR: I think so. Now you will see more color schemes behind the scenes. But that’s not a big enough change.
AK: What do you think inclusiveness should look like?
AR: There should be all shades of color… Sometimes the industry will choose Asians, but just white Asians. It’s not South Asians or those on the dark side. If they are dark, they prefer very fine and feminine features. They choose their definition of inclusiveness. Maybe it’s time to reconsider what inclusiveness means.
AK: Tell us about the role of the model today. You see Karlie Kloss advocating for more girls in coding with Girl Code. And there’s Adwoa Aboah, who talks about empowering women, and even Gisele Bundchen, who talks about sustainability and the environment. Do you ever want to use your platform for larger purposes?
AR: Yeah, I think it’s important that they use their voice. I want to educate my community about colorism.
AK: Did you encounter a lot of colourism growing up in France?
AR: In France, there aren’t many Indians, so even growing up in school, I was always the only Indian. Sadly, not everyone has Bollywood as their benchmark for India, and that is not always an accurate description of how India looks or lives. I had to learn to feel beautiful. It’s strange, but every time I go back to India I feel so beautiful. I always feel beautiful when I’m at home with my family, with people who are like me.
AK: What fashion item would you spend your next paycheck on?
AR: The mini Gucci ‘Jackie’ in lemon.
AK: What do you do when you’re not modeling?
AR: I recently became a Marvel fan. So I just finished watching Loki Frenzy on Disney +. I also like to discover new music. I currently listen to Caribbean songs from the French island, Guadeloupe. The genre is called zouk.
Read also :
Ashley Radjarame on her groundbreaking show Life in Paris and her love for thrift stores
Give your clothes a second chance as brands embrace second-hand and vintage clothing