She has been cast by Edward Enniful, Christopher Bailey, Olivier Rousteing and even Kanye West to walk in shows and appear in shoots - it seems Neelam Gill is fashion’s new muse. The L’Oréal Paris UK ambassador talked exclusively to Hello! Fashion Monthly about breaking down barriers as a British Indian model, battles with depressions and who she admires in the industry.
Neelam counts fellow model Jourdan Dunn among her close friends
“Not enough has changed,” says the HFM cover star, on the glaring lack of diversity in fashion. “There are more Indian models on the catwalk but it’s hard to see how that translates to the mainstream.” And she admits that make-up artists still have to mix several shades together to colour match her skin.
“That’s why I’m so impressed with True Match foundaton,” the first L’Oréal Paris product that Neelam is lending her face to - of which there are 23 shades and more to come in August. “Because I could never find my shade growing up - now my teenage sister can go and buy the make-up she wants with her own allowance.”
Towards the end of 2015, a year or so into her modelling career, Neelam started to suffer anxiety attacks. “I was way closer to my family before I started modelling so I think I was feeling disconnected, and a bit lost.” Neelam says the “pressure” of working got to her, too. “I felt massive guilt if I had to turn down jobs. It’s not like I had any kind of leg up. I kept telling myself it was down to me alone to sustain the success.”
Although she’s learned to how to manage her mental health, Neelam admits to suffering from bouts of depressions, still. “I just have to let it pass when it comes on. I’ve tried CBT, and I really want to get into meditation - but for me, when I’m having a bad day I know I just need to stay in bed and go through it.”
The 22-year-old keeps a close a circle of friends around her, including Jourdan Dunn who she describes as “a big sister figure”. She also admires model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley: “She’s proved that she’s more than just a model. She has her own voice and has established her own brands - her body oil is amazing!” And is in awe of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell: “The term supermodel should be reserved for them - no one’s in their lane.”
Neelam Gill is the face of True Match Foundation, available on 25th August nationwide.