Born and raised in London, Rahi Chadda can rightly claim to be a male supermodel—given the plethora of high profile campaigns he has fronted for the likes of Louis Vuitton, Estee Lauder, Chopard, Viktor and Rolf, BVLGARI; not to mention, magazine covers and the front-row invites at fashion weeks in New York, London, Paris, and Milan. Chadda is at the top of the global fashion tree and he doesn’t look set to climb down for quite some time yet. In a candid chat, the statuesque model opens up about breaking barriers, his fashion inspiration, wardrobe essentials, and the road ahead.
Excerpts from the interview:
1. You studied law and then international employment relations. What piqued your interest in fashion?
Fashion is a party; it is fluid and fun. When you have conversations with people, we all want to talk about who is wearing what and why and how they influence and inspire us. Fashion has a feel-good factor, and I wanted to be a part of that. Law was great, but I realised it wasn’t my calling.
2. You have worked with some of the top brands in fashion, walked the red carpet at Cannes, and even been the first brown male ambassador for Dior Beauty. What do you consider as your career highlight so far?
It is difficult to pin a specific highlight. At the moment, the highlight is the bigger picture. When I started, there were hardly any brown men in sight in fashion. We all got into this to share our perspective of fashion—and working with the top brands has been great because I now have a greater outreach. With many fashion brands having 100 years-plus history, what is the modern perspective? It is diversity and inclusivity, and it is a privilege to be a part of that.
3. You are British with Indian roots. Does that influence your sartorial choices?
It does, although the influence isn’t obvious. My style is quite quirky or ‘fluid’ as some may think. However being Indian, our style is filled with colour, metallics, and variety. A few years back, western menswear hardly had any colour or variety; there was a strict rulebook that isn’t spoken about. This was a conflict for me as my culture encourages me to be vibrant, and that is how I stand out, by being just that.
4. You also own a beauty clinic in London—Panache and Marina. What led to that?
I had difficulties with my skin when I was younger and at the time it was all St Ives Apricot Scrubs and a lot of trends that really weren’t good for you. I remember discussing with my mother one night and she was tired of me moaning. She said, “stop complaining and do something” and when I slept on it, I woke up with the idea to open my own clinic. Retrospectively, it is quite a jump to decide this, but I was determined, and I knew a lot of people that wanted treatments. So I thought why not? I have the passion for it, and there is a demand.
5. You were at the Milan Fashion Week. How was the experience and what trends are likely to trickle down?
Milan Fashion Week has always been fabulous for womenswear but menswear has been getting better and better each season. The last time I went, it was truly exhilarating and I was excited for more! In terms of trends, I will adopt the leather-on-leather trend; I have always found this to be hot, but to have a suit in yellow leather: iconic! Another noteworthy trend would have to be a statement silhouette like the ’70s or ’80s. I suit a ’70s silhouette and colour palette with the flared trousers and orange hues—it compliments me well.
6. South Asian representation at fashion weeks and influencer community is still thin. How are things changing in that regard?
We are still a minority in the community, there is no denying that. But in fairness, we have seen a major shift in recent years. It started with influencers of colour showing their talents and worth, inspiring the consumer, and in turn that demand became apparent for brands to change their runways. There is work to be done, but that influence is present, and we need to celebrate that to encourage more. We need more influencers, more representation on the runway, and those who lead the top brands. We need designers of colour too—that is very important.
7. What is your beauty regime? Any tips for men?
How cliché would it be if I said that my beauty regime is drinking water? I joke. Naturally, I have my own clinic so I will do a bit of microdermabrasion or treatment to reset my skin—this is key to allowing your skincare to work. Other than that, cleanse twice a day, moisturise and have a serum beforehand, eye cream, and top it up with SPF to keep the UV rays at bay. That is my tip for both men and women.
8. You have impeccable fashion sensibility. Who are your fashion inspirations?
Well, thank you for that compliment, that is very kind. Someone notable would be Yves Saint Laurent. I love his history of pushing boundaries and I apply that to my own style. But generally, I am inspired by the culture and the cities that I visit.
9. What items dominate your wardrobe? And what brands do you patronise?
Flared jeans, they go with everything. I would probably be buried in mine; I love them so much. In terms of brands I love Tod's—the leather they use is divine, and their shoes are incredibly comfortable. They are my go-to.
10. How often do you visit India and what are the things you love doing while here?
I try to go as often as I can, although I admit I have been so busy that it is difficult to fly over after Covid. Naturally, I love visiting my family and visiting places that are dear to me since my childhood—it is a sentimental place.
11. How do you switch off?
Turn off the phone, spend some time with my mother, and put an eye mask on.
12. What next?
Who knows? I have some things lined up, but I can only say that bigger and better things are coming. You’ll see.