KATHMANDU, Nov 3:Varsha Thapa is Prabal Gurung’s favorite Nepali model. And it’s easy to infer why.
Standing tall at a height of 5’10” and a “naturally skinny” body, this 22-year-old dusky damsel is the first and the only Nepali international fashion model, signed to Wilhelmina Models in New York – one of the largest and most successful modeling agencies in the world, founded by Dutch supermodel Wilhelmina Cooper.
A Hotel Management graduate from India, modeling always fascinated Varsha. She says she used to sneak a peek at Fashion TV whenever her mom took a break from her serials, and admired the models walking down the runways.
“I used to stand in front of the mirror and wonder if I could do something similar someday,” she reminisces.
Varsha did a show for Nuzhat Qazi and graced the covers of a couple of Nepali magazines before heading to New York to pursue her dreams in 2011.
Right since her debut in the international runway at the Spring/Summer 2012 during New York Fashion Week, Varsha has worked for acclaimed designers like Prabal Gurung, Phillip Lim and Vivienne Westwood, to name a few. She’s also been featured in various advertisement campaigns for Satya Jewelry.
Work keeps her busy, but she manages to keep a diary in her free time and compose poems. “I’d like to publish an anthology of poetry someday,” she says.
Currently in Nepal for holidays, Republica caught up with her to talk about her experiences, achievements and aspirations.
What brings you back to Nepal?
I’m here to meet my parents and just be home! I haven’t been here for two years, and I missed everyone here.
So how different is Varsha Thapa today from the Varsha Thapa who left Nepal in the pursuit of her dreams?
I’ve definitely evolved a lot. I have identified my strengths, honed by qualities and completely molded as a person. I have learned how to deal with things on my own, and seen and experienced a whole new fashion industry.
I have also realized that hard work and determination are qualities that will eventually lead you to your goal no matter how far it looks in the beginning. And establishing myself as an international model had always been my goal.
How different was the fashion industry there from what you had imagined? Also tell us about your experiences there.
When the agency signed me, I thought it was all going to be a cake walk for me. But it was not. The agency was merely a medium; whether or not I got the job depended entirely on me. I was naïve and didn’t know much about the functioning of the industry, and yet I went to the castings, hoping and praying for the designers to pick me. I got rejected by so many, and also got selected by a few.
But then it was my life’s biggest achievement when I met Prabal Gurung. That’s precisely when everything worked out. Of course I had already worked with a couple of designers, but when I met Prabal, he was like, “Oh my God! I’m so thrilled to see you.”
He hadn’t ever met a Nepali model in that platform. He asked me to show him my walk, and when I did, he said I needed a bit of an improvement. He didn’t confirm if I was doing his show immediately, but a couple of hours after the casting, he told me I was.
That was the happiest moment of my life. It was a big thing walking for Prabal Gurung, sure, but even bigger was the fact that I was walking for the first Nepali international designer as the first Nepali international model. The experience was hysteric, to say the least.
Are there designers or brands you’d like to work for next?
I’d pick Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci, Hermès and Christian Dior, to name a few.
What is the most difficult thing about being a model?
Being a model is not just about being tall and skinny and walking down the runway. It requires a lot of patience and determination. For some girls, this could work out right away, but for some, it really takes a long, long time. So if you aren’t patient and determined enough, and if you don’t have the vision of how you want to take your career forward, you can’t become a successful model.
Are movies in the pipeline too?
When I was on a vacation to Cyprus recently, I missed the audition for a character in Fast and Furious 7, and I regret it a lot. I’m not clear yet, but if I’m offered good movie with a good message, I’d take it. Even a Nepali movie, yes.
Do you have any message for young Nepali girls?
Well, if you want to do something, go ahead and do it. If you feel stuck, cut off the anchor that’s pulling you back. Because when you go out and achieve your goals, the people will have nothing but good things to say about you.