There are moments when the hype surrounding a model builds to a crescendo and she becomes an unstoppable force – Lakshmi Menon is in the midst of such a moment. Blessed with soulful eyes and bone structure that borders on sculptural, Menon is unquestionably beautiful. Where other models woo with their girlish innocence, Lakshmi captivates with an allure that is womanly and worldly. It’s this decidedly adult appeal that has made her a favorite of France’s most innovative couturiers and subsequently landed her campaigns for Hermes and Givenchy.

While her success as an individual is noteworthy (and she is sure to have one of the most lucrative show seasons in S/S 09) Lakshmi’s presence in the industry foreshadows things to come. In a business where ethnic diversity can be either lacking or non-existent Lakshmi represents one of the few Indian faces in front of the cameras. Not since the haunting beauty of Ujjwala Raut, has an Indian model been so prominent on the international scene and the success garnered by Lakshmi has prompted many to rethink just what sort of beauty can be marketable and aspirational.