Simar Dugal – A Supermodel & a Muse

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Loved by all, Simar Dugal leaves behind a legacy of grace and beauty

I often called her “Simmer” rather than Simar, in an obvious reference to her smoldering, stunning beauty. The air around literally simmered with her unique essence. Truly and sadly, it is the most beautiful who are taken away early. Two nights ago, the gorgeous Simar Dugal gave in to cancer after a brave and dignified fight of several years, at the young age of 52.

Beauty is of two kinds. One that is limited to the physical aspects, making the one bestowed with this quality a cold, arrogant looker, too sure of her looks. Such beauties are more like marble statues, to be admired from far, leaving you cold beyond that.

And then, once in a while, beauty is bestowed on a person who is beautiful through and through. Such a person’s loveliness percolates their being, making them those warm, loving beings cherished by all. Simar was one such person. She was grace personified. For her none of the frivolous fun that the world believes models indulge in.

Married early and a mother too, Simar was cajoled into modelling by that bevvy of fashion designers who, drunk on the new fashion awareness sweeping the world in the 90s, were desperately seeking their Muses. When multiple designers claim they were the ones who convinced Simar to model, none of them is lying; they all probably did their best to draw her into the exciting world of glamour and glitter. Once there, she excelled and brought to life the work of almost all the designers who are legendary names in Indian fashion today.

‘If Simar comes, can Sunalika be far behind?’ That was the headline of an article I wrote a couple of decades ago. These two amazingly beautiful girls (Simar Dugal and Sunalika Sinha) opened the show for almost all leading designers in the 1990s. Those were the years when fashion designers were the newly anointed kings, and fashion shows the grounds where they celebrated their oeuvre. And media created an exciting environ and a haloed platform for the celebrations. I was the country’s first fashion critic, writing for The Times of India, learning on the job with all these energetic and effervescent beings.

Over the years, I have observed that group of models move on from modeling into acting, parenting, designing, anchoring shows, or just remaining the beautiful creatures as they mellow with passing years. Simar remained the same as ever – she even managed to look the same as ever as she moved on to become a keen golfer, a rider and later to creating clothes as a designer. She believed that the way to grow is to keep doing different stuff and believed that beauty belongs to someone whose entire personality shines through.

Becoming one of the country’s earliest supermodels and a Muse to the country’s leading designers never went to Simar’s head. She remained the warm, smiling, friendly and dignified person she always was right till the end, even in the face of intense pain. I last met Simar several months ago at the Gymkhana Club swimming pool. We spoke of meeting to catch up, but that was not to happen.

As Ritu Kumar puts it with great feeling, “For me her passing away, seems as if an era of fashion in India has also gone, perhaps not ever to come back again in quite the same way. I have also lost a friend, and a muse.”

Simar will of course be missed by family, friends and colleagues. But she leaves behind a legacy of a life lived with dignity, poise and warmth. Such a life is to be celebrated.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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