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The BHS Edit

Sail Away

Photography by Brad Ogbonna; Styling by Beverly Nguyen; Interview by Chloe Lewis

Model posing on a boat wearing an all-white Valentino look

Model Nidhi Sunil graces the cover of Bal Harbour wearing Valentino. Photography by Brad Ogbonna; Styling by Beverly Nguyen

For the Spring/Summer 2024 issue’s cover story, triple threat model, actress, and activist Nidhi Sunil headed to St. Kitts aboard one of Windstar Cruises’ luxurious sailing ships. Photographer Brad Ogbonna captured Sunil in the season’s most coveted looks, as styled by Beverly Nguyen, across the Caribbean island’s lush landscape, as well as at sea on Wind Surf. We caught up with Sunil after her shoot to talk about the causes she champions, South Asian beauty standards, and why Prada’s new suit tops her Spring wardrobe list.

You’ve noted being inspired by South Asian models such as Lakshmi Menon and Ujjwala Raut. How does it feel to know that you might similarly inspire future generations?
I don’t know how aware people in other markets are about beauty standards in South Asia, but in general, it’s geared towards preferring white skin; skin bleaching products are a multi-billion-dollar industry. When I started working as a model it was quite common for Indian agencies not to want girls who were dark. I’d like to think I formed, and continue to be a part of, the ongoing shift in beauty standards. It’s super-humbling to get messages from young Indian women who feel represented because they see me out here and feel like there are opportunities in spaces where there previously weren’t any.

Nidhi Sunil posing in an Isabel Marant red mini dress

Isabel Marant Bernadette dress and bracelet

You have a background in law, and are a renowned model, actress, activist, and philanthropist. How have these areas intersected in your life?
I like to think there is a continuous feedback loop going where they’re all feeding each other’s growth. My skills are always intersecting and informing every choice and decision I make. They come in handy in practical ways too, like reading contracts, for example.

What was the catalyst that had you pivot away from practicing law?
I won a modeling contest in my third year of law school, signed with Elite in India and took a year off to give it a real shot after I graduated. It was just curiosity and having the opportunity to explore a new world, really.

Nidhi Sunil posing in Miu Miu pants, coat, belt, and swim bottoms

Miu Miu pants, coat, belt, and swim bottoms, Miu Miu and New Balance sneakers

What influence do you hope to have for the future of beauty, as the first Indian model representing L’Oreal Paris as a global ambassador?
Having this role has definitely opened new experiences for me that have been extremely educational. I was also the first Indian model with a beauty contract of this caliber, which hopefully means we have a little bit more of a foot in the door, as a community.

What influenced you to become so involved with the invisible Girl Project and the Fashion Workers Act?
I’d say this is a corner of the universe where my legal education kicks in; It’s challenging work to be a part of, and also extremely rewarding.  Human rights work is also something I was exposed to and involved in as a young law student, and it felt like a natural extension of what I wanted to do with my time.

Nidhi Sunil posing in Gucci shorts, blouse, belt, bracelet and chain

Gucci shorts, blouse, Marmot belt and Marina chain bracelet

Nidhi Sunil posing in Chanel shorts, jacket, sandals, handbag, necklace, and jewelry

Chanel shorts, jacket, thong sandals, handbag, necklace, earrings, and rings

Nidhi Sunil posing in Valentino white hooded top, pants, and cape

Valentino hooded top, pants, and cape; Gianvito Rossi sandals

What are some other current issues you’re passionate about amplifying?
Mental health and somatic [body-based therapy] work, especially post-COVID. I went through an extensive period of isolation, depression, and severe anxiety, and I am grateful that I found the right information and the right help. I believe that the extensive periods of time spent online during the pandemic, the isolation from community while disappearing into online silos, polarized us and magnified a lot of issues that need addressing.

You Traveled to Saint Kitts and Nevis for the shoot; what were some of your immediate impressions of the region?
This shoot fulfilled all my island nature-girl fantasies. Saint Kitts has such a laid-back, relaxed energy. It feels like everybody knows one another and there’s such a sense of community, which definitely trickled down to the crew. I really felt like I was on a school trip with a bunch of friends.

Did you have a favorite look from the shoot?
I love androgynous power dressing, so definitely the Prada blazer and shorts.

How do you maintain your stamina on set?
Honestly, I just love being on set. I feel like I get all my energy from the creative buzz of the crew.  I can sense everybody’s anticipation of the final images, and it’s really fun to be the person who gets to make it happen. It’s a little bit of a high for me.

What’s your off duty look?
At the moment, in cold NYC, it’s sweatpants, hoodies, sneakers, and oversized jackets.

Anything special on your list for spring?
The Prada micro-shorts and blazer from this shoot, Cecile Bahnsen dresses, and literally everything from the Alaïa Spring Ready-to-Wear collection.

 

Photographer: Brad Ogbonna; Stylist: Beverly Nguyen; Model: Nidhi Sunil/ Elite Models; Hair: Niko Weddle for Judy Casey using L’Oreal Matrix; Makeup: Tatyana Harkoff; Executive Producer: Nicole Van Straatum/ See Me; Creative Producer: Kimberly Goedhart/ See Me; Photography Assistant: Shen Williams-Cohen; Stylist Assistant: Amanda Lee Burkett



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