She’s the ramp’s favourite wild child; fiery-haired, kohl-eyed, tempestuous, coquettishly playful one instant and elegantly sultry the next.
Stylist Nabila, who has often opted for Iraj in her more dramatic installations, explains, “I wouldn’t call Iraj a model. She is, rather, a creature of fashion, theatrical and enthralling. I don’t think Iraj, with her years of experience and complete ease on the catwalk, can be expected to just display clothes at fashion events. She is, in fact, often the single element who sets the mood for the whole show.” Snippets from Iraj Manzoor’s interview by Maliha Rehman published in Dawn Sunday Images.–Photos by Zeeshan Ghouri
She certainly knows her mind and while she hasn’t really decided on her career choice post-modeling, she knows that it has to be something that she loves. “I just want to do something creative now. Settle down and perhaps paint in my free time. It may not be very lucrative but I have been sensible enough to make investments for my future. I can’t see myself doing something I am not passionate about. Modelling, for a long time, has been my creative vent — now I want to move on to something new, something different b
“Rather than keep an eye out for public reactions, I prefer to work on projects that excite me,” says Iraj. “I don’t waste my time on partying and catfights, preferring to let my professionalism get me the right work with the right people. I don’t try to look like a schoolgirl when I am a well-experienced model about to turn 40!
She isn’t a great fan of Photoshop either with which, according to her, “model’s faces are completely altered to fit into a preconceived image of beauty”. Nor, surprisingly for a woman who is often in the spotlight, is Iraj in favour of plastic surgery. “I’ve had so many people tell me to go for a few nips and tucks but I’d much rather age gracefully,” she claims. “Yes, my face may get wrinkled but at least I’ll still look like myself.
Her “art education” is her degree in Fine Arts from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. Iraj began modeling while she was still a student and even after graduating, the popularity and steady income she earned kept her rooted to the ramp and the glossies. “When I started out, there were only a handful of models,” she recalls. “We were all girls from well-educated families, trying out something new because we were lucky enough to have parents who had allowed us to do so.
“Back in earlier days the fashion fraternity was very small but still, we achieved some groundbreaking work. Photographers like Arif Mehmood and Tapu Javeri treated each fashion shoot like a work of art. The few fashion events that took place were mostly orchestrated by Frieha Altaf, who is one of the most hardworking women I know.
She is much older than the bevy of young models who walk with her on the ramp, claims to be absolutely ‘useless’ at social networking and says that she does not have any ‘real friends’ in the fashion fraternity.
“I feel an urge to go back to painting now, away from the petty rivalries that have now become a part of modelling,” she says. “I want to retire and by next year, I probably will.” But until she does, 22 years down the line, Iraj remains the showstopper at many a fashion event — the sultry, dusky-faced siren who isn’t afraid to stand out by being, as she says, true to herself.