Need to Know: Model Laila Ali Khan

A chance photo shoot led to the discovery of the nation's next top model

Photography: Ayaz Anis

Getting into the modeling business was a bit of a fluke for Laila Ali Khan. In 2014, the 23-year-old Islamabad native was asked by a friend to shoot a campaign for Bareeze. The results were fantastic and Khan continued to be the face of the brand for the next three campaigns. This was the launch of what now seems like one of the most exciting new faces in the Pakistani modeling industry.

Khan with her doll-like features and signature mischievous eyes has already been on the cover of a number of high-profile magazines and has modeled for brands such as Elan and Al-Karam. Here this leggy-beauty talks to Women’s Own about getting discovered, her personal style and everything she finds ridiculous about Pakistan’s Fashion industry.

How did you get into the modelling business?

It was random. Someone from Bareeze got in touch with a friend of mine and told him they were looking for a model. They were revamping Bareeze at the time and wanted a new face.  He recommended me and one thing led to another. The team got in touch with me asking for my pictures and I was shocked to be called in for a nationwide campaign, considering I had absolutely no prior experience in the field. I did Bareeze for the next three seasons.

Was modelling the dream?

I never longed to be a model; it’s something that just happened. What I do know now is that I love what I do.  It’s hard work and the unpredictability involved is challenging but that’s what makes it interesting. The work hours can pretty much take up my entire day, even spill over into the wee hours of the night, and this pattern can continue for days.

It was when I would come back home after days of shooting, absolutely exhaustedand still wanting to continue doing what I did, is when I realized how much I liked what I do. That saidI knew I wanted to do something in fashion so it seems to have worked out quite well in the end. I would definitely like to do more, design perhaps, but only after I’ve travelled extensively. That would be fun. There is so much left to experience and discover in life that it’s difficult identifying any one dream.

What do you think of the current Pakistani fashion scene?

I think it’s hierarchical. There are a handful of brilliant people who create beautifully. These giants cast their shadows onto the rest and instead of stepping out of it the followers end up improvising from their work, resulting in amajor loss of individuality. Although from time to time, there will be some new photographer or a designer that I would get absolutely smitten by, but by and large I feel there is a ridiculous lack of originality. I believe magical things can happen if we stay focused, and do not pay too much attention to our peripheral surroundings.

Fitness routine?

Running and a bit of cardio. I try not to over indulge every time, but I do enjoy my meals. I would really like to get back to yoga.

Style philosophy?

I’m all for the street-style look: a plain tee with a sass and bide skirt, and Nicholas Kirkwood shoes would do it for me. Less is definitely more, and I appreciate jewellery occasionally. I definitely don’t mind rocking a statement piece from time to time though.

Current obsessions?

Fargo, Vinyl, Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek and my 15-month-old nephew.