“I wanted to be a model since my teenage days,” confesses Asif with a grin when asked. Yes I’m talking about Asif Azim, one of Bangladesh’s pioneering ramp models. And we tracked down this six-foot-one Piscean to tell us a little about how he got on to most of Dhaka’s billboards.
Azim grew up in Meherpur. A small town boy with big dreams, he moved to Dhaka to study Economics at the University of Dhaka. It was during his second year in university when he went to a store opening to see if he could have an audience with designer Bibi Russell. Her words of advice? Finishing his education, because without it, she said, he wouldn’t get too far. He took her words as a mantra while allowing himself to do small modelling jobs for clothing stores such as Altamira (2001). But once he completed his Bachelors, Azim started to train rigorously under the eye of Russell.
His first big break came in 2002 when he landed a ramp rig with Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee who was having a show in Dhaka. He then caught the eye of South African photographer Neo Ntsoma who was in town for a documentary photo shoot. Ntsoma’s photographs of Azim appeared in Parisian magazine Saolo (2002) and they also made their way to Unitrend.
Till that point, Azim had been very selective about doing editorial shoots or any sort of product campaigns, because he felt he couldn’t give it enough time. But when Unitrend approached him with a campaign for Siemens (2002), he wisely agreed. The Siemens ad led to the Aktel campaign (2003) and that is exactly how he landed on most of the billboards in town!
After the Aktel job, he became a full-fledged ramp model. Meanwhile, he started getting a lot of offers to do commercials, editorial shoots and even movies but he didn’t take them up because he wanted to do quality work.
In 2004, he went to India to shoot a commercial for Aarong where he was exposed to more people in the media. He got further offers but still didn’t take any of them. He then met style and fashion guru Prasad Bidappa who saw a lot of potential in him and asked him if he was interested in spreading his horizon as far as India. At that time not being well acquainted with Bidappa’s work, he didn’t take the offer seriously. Instead, he went to Australia for a BGMEA show. Then during the model screening of the first Bangladesh Fashion Week, he ran into Prasad Bidappa again. Once the Fashion Week was over, Azim went to Spain for yet another fashion show.
In the meanwhile, he kept Bidappa’s offer in mind. Upon returning to Dhaka, he decided to go and check out the modelling scene in Bangalore. And from there, as the cliché
goes, it was history. Now, after almost a year Azim can proudly say that he has modelled for most of India’s best designers such as Manish Malhotra, Rohit Bal, Sunit Verma, Tarun Tahiliani, Rajesh Pratap Singh, and Hemant Trivedi to name a few. His modelling has taken him from training zone Bangalore to modelling haven Mumbai.
Azim has two goals. One, to become an internationally recognized model, and more importantly, two, to help enhance and develop the modelling industry in Bangladesh. A face that has made Bangladesh proud by appearing in German and Australian Vogue, we wish Asif Azim good luck on both his endeavours. In the meanwhile, keep up the great work!