Neelam Gill
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 21: Neelam Gill attends the V&A summer party at The V&A on June 21, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)


by AMIT ROY

THE British Indian model Neelam Gill, who was chosen to model for Burberry two years ago, is to spend the next 12 months as the new face of L’Oréal.

The French cosmetics giant, which has formed an alliance with the Prince’s Trust set up by Prince Charles, has recruited Neelam to promote its beauty products in the UK.

L’Oréal said of the 5ft 10in model who was born into a Sikh family in Coventry: “Neelam struggled at school – she was taller, skinnier and just different from everyone else and she felt like she stood out like a sore thumb. However, she is the proof that embracing what makes you different can be your greatest asset.”

Neelam commented: “I feel honoured to be working alongside such an influential company, especially being the first British-Indian model.

Growing up I felt left out and unrepresented knowing that nobody in mainstream media looked like me, and now I hope to change that.”

“I can’t even believe I’m writing this right now, but I am insanely proud to announce I am
the new face of L’Oréal Paris UK,” she added.

“Saying ‘this is a dream come true’ would be an understatement.”

“Ever since I started modelling I’ve always said to my agency (Models1), I want a contract with L’Oréal Paris,” she said.

“I feel like this is a huge milestone for me as I know a lot of girls suffer because they feel they aren’t represented in the media, and hopefully me doing this will make them proud.”

Prince Charles speaks to model Neelam Gill as he attends a reception and dinner for supporters of The British Asian Trust. (Photo by Alan Davidson – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The company said that Neelam “will be fronting three campaigns throughout 2017, including a new collection of matte lipsticks called Matte Addiction, and in September will feature in a new True Match foundation campaign that will welcome a shade extension to their current 23 foundation shades.”

Neelam hit the headlines when she was picked to do the catwalk for Burberry at a fashion show.

However, in the last couple of years, although she has done reasonably well, the transition from a model to a supermodel has yet to take place.

Being chosen by L’Oréal has come at just the right time for her. It will give her a higher profile in the fashion world.

It’s a world that Neelam, known for being outspoken, has condemned in one of her interviews as “racist and elitist”.

“With our ambassadors, employees and The Prince’s Trust, we’re rolling out a Confidence
Training Programme online and in all The Prince’s Trust centres,” L’Oréal said in a statement.

“Helping to transform self-doubt into self-worth for 10,000 young people.” Neelam’s influence stems from the fact that she has broken through in the fashion and advertising industry where non-white models continue to be marginalised and find it difficult to get work.

(L-R) Maria Borges, Alexina Graham, Lara Stone, Eva Longoria, Barbara Palvin, Bianca Balti, Neelam Gill, Doutzen Kroes and Irina Shayk attend the Gala 20th Birthday Of L’Oreal In Cannes during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Martinez Hotel. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

She has been picked as the face of the American brand Abercrombie & Fitch; and appointed
the first official brand ambassador for Blink Brow Bar, which offers expertise in eyebrow shaping.

Neelam wore a burgundy and gold lengha, when she teamed up with model Suki Waterhouse to shoot a video promoting British Airways’ Dreamliner flights from Heathrow to New Delhi.

She has also worked for H&M, been featured in Vogue magazine, appeared on the cover of ES, the London Evening Standard’s magazine, and modelled for Kanye West’s Fashion Week Show and for fashion house Dior.

Last year, when the National Portrait Gallery put on one of its most successful exhibitions, Vogue 100: A Century of Style, the BBC asked Neelam to give viewers a “private tour” of the show.

In her engaging 17-minute commentary on the Vogue covers, Neelam focused on some of the most illustrious models and photographers of their day.

But she picked out two non-white models, Naomi Campbell and Jourdan Dunn, who have broken the mould, for special mention.

Neelam, who has never been shy to express her opinions, told the celebrity website Female First last week: “People don’t realise that the industry is not only racist, it’s elitist, too. When I first started modelling for Burberry I would read all the comments about me on social media. A lot of people assumed I got the job because I had rich parents.”

“I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? I’m from Coventry,’” she added. “‘This job paid for my parents’ holiday.’ It annoys me that people have that perception of models.”

On social media a lot of the chat is from Asian girls obviously inspired by Neelam, who recently made the cover of Fashion Monthly magazine.

Nital Shah tweeted afterwards: “You are the only reason to buy this magazine! I’m so glad to see you breaking barriers and I love seeing you in every campaign.”

Izzy Kaur Khatkar added that Neelam was “representing brown girls everywhere!”