#ELLECoverStar: The Unstoppable Pooja Mor
In a rapid-fire tête-à-tête international model, Pooja Mor reveals her favourites, her ideology and of course, thoughts on fashion
They say life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. And Pooja Mor’s career trajectory is testimony to this fact. A former engineering graduate, Bareilly-born Pooja made a move to New York in 2016 to dip her toes in the realms of fashion. Little did she know then, that she would go on to become one of the most recognisable faces to represent India overseas in the modelling circuit. From making her debut at Louis Vuitton’s Cruise 2016 show in Palm Springs, US to walking the ramp for fashion houses such as Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Bottega Veneta, Stella McCartney, Tory Burch and more—her graph has only soared upwards.
The supermodel comes from humble beginnings though. From regional fashion shows in Ahmedabad to modelling gigs at New Delhi and Mumbai Fashion Weeks, Pooja tasted early success on the Indian scene. And while the runway has been a regular element in her life, accolades such as the NEW WAVE: Creatives Award by the British Fashion Council and others bring her success into limelight. Along with walking for heritage labels and renowned designers, Pooja has made striking appearances on international campaigns for names such as Prabal Gurung, Net-A-Porter, Massimo Dutti, H&M, Mango and Border&Fall. Juggling multiple shows overseas, it’s safe to say that Pooja is the definition of ‘unstoppable’.
Leveraging her fame, Pooja often kick-starts conversations around humanitarian issues, and hosts her own TEDx Talks. In a freewheeling conversation, she answers 50 fun questions that ELLE throws at her, making us love her even more.
1. Describe yourself in 3 words
Fun, caring and creative.
2. How do you start your day?
With meditation, coffee and a good skincare routine.
3. Your first job
It was in New York for a show at Club Monaco. I was still jet-lagged because I had just come in from India and this was within the first week of my arrival in NY.
4. What is modelling really like?
It is what you make of it. Different models have different experiences and no one can really define modelling. Yes, we are creating beautiful images for a designer, magazine or a brand but it is much more than that. Everyone has their own share of struggles and one has to be strong-headed to be able to get through all the travelling, casting and rejections that come with it.
5. If you weren’t a model…
I would be a writer or an entrepreneur.
6. If you had five minutes to get ready, what would be your go-to look?
Curled lashes, highlighter magic and a red lip.
7. The best thing that has happened to you in the recent times
Being able to spend time with my family during the lockdown. Since it was a complete shutdown and there were no work calls, I was able to spend a longer duration of time with my family and friends. Everyone felt a sense of closeness—we cooked together, shared our life experiences, meditated and made many immunity-boosting drinks. It was such an amazing experience to just be with one’s family and share everything together, which due to our busy lives one doesn’t get to do often.
8. Favorite fragrance?
Dear Polly by Vilhelm Parfumerie.
9. Five beauty products that you swear by?
SACHAJUAN Ocean Mist Volume shampoo, bareMinerals concealer, DIOR Lip Glow, Farmacy Honey Potion mask and make p:rem Safe me relief cream.
10. Favorite city in the world and why?
Paris. I love seeing the beautiful angels when I look up towards the sky near the Opera. I also love their preserved history-art and croissants.
11. Icons you look up to
None. Seriously. I feel when you grow up or reach a certain age you stop looking up to icons. Instead, you nd yourself becoming more comfortable and con dent in your own skin. I am becoming myself and constantly trying to understand my own self and looking forward to seeing what role I can play in guiding the society into a better world.
12. Fashion designers that you absolutely love
There is a long list but just to name a few—Valentino, Zimmermann, Etro, Prada and Prabal Gurung.
13. The best fashion advice you have received and by whom?
I think it was by a stylist and they told me not to be afraid to play with colours in my wardrobe. The Indian skin takes colour very well and complements almost every colour.
14. A fashion trend you love
Sari with sneakers.
15. A fashion trend you wish never comes back
Low waist jeans.
16. Your thoughts on sustainable fashion
It’s the way to go. Less waste and more conscious fashion.
17. Your fitness mantra
Pilates and running.
18. Favorite sport
19. A quote that you live by
Treat others the way you would treat yourself.
20. If you were a drink, what would you be?
Masala chai—soothing and spicy.
21. Your guilty pleasure
22. Favorite movies
The Holiday, the Bahubali films, Searching for Bobby Fischer and Up.
23. The series/movie you last watched
I am detoxing from Net ix right now, but the last I watched was Raya and the Last Dragon.
24. What is on your playlist currently?
Prateek Kuhad’s Raat Raazi.
25. What inspires you the most?
Honesty. It is a great characteristic/trait to have. With honesty, you can build better social interactions, more in-depth connections with your audience and have mutual trust in people. As a model, I love it when the clients I work with are transparent and loyal. It creates such a good work environment and relationship.
26. Favorite cuisine
Indian food. Always.
27. Heels or flats
28. Your spirit animal
29. What’s in your handbag right now?
Lip balm, sanitizer, bareMinerals concealer, eyelash curler, hair band, AirPods, wallet, keys, bandages and Victoria Beckham lip liner.
30. What is the most precious thing in your wardrobe?
The Row boots.
31. Instagram or Facebook or Snapchat or Twitter—what are you most addicted to?
32. Beauty ritual that you follow every day?
Using rose water as toner.
33. Make-up or no make-up
34. Red lipstick, pink lipstick or no lipstick
35. Worst beauty trend that you ever tried
10-step skincare routine.
36. Secret beauty tip
Believe in your roots and in your grandma’s recipes.
37. If a movie were to be made on your life, which genre would it be?
38. Describe your bucket list
I have ticked it all. Travel around the world, learn about new cultures, visit the Louvre Museum, be a supermodel, create beautiful images, have a purpose in life, have true friends, learn to cook, live in nature, dive underwater–and the list goes on.
39. One thing that annoys you the most
When people have sticky hands and they are dressing you.
40. What’s your idea of a perfect date?
It doesn’t have to be perfect.
41. What’s something you notice about someone when you first meet them? Whether their words and actions match.
42. What’s the one thing you wish you knew at age 19?
Do not believe in what the society tells you—always choose for yourself, what works for you and where is your path of life, as everyone has a choice.
43. What would you pick—a night in a club partying or night on the couch watching TV, dressed in sweats?
A night shared with friends and family cooking and sharing a meal together, and playing board games.
44. Favorite karaoke song
BLACKPINK’s On the Ground by Rosé.
45. Hashtag #FreeTheNipple–agree or disagree
Disagree. I am not comfortable doing it and it’s entirely my personal choice. I am somehow not OK showing every part of my body to everyone.
46. Your thoughts on inclusivity in fashion
Shouldn’t just be a checkbox in the casting list. It needs to come from the heart.
47. What does body positivity mean to you?
Always have positive thoughts about your body and the way you were made by the divine. I feel like when we have negative thoughts it shows on our face or health, so we should cultivate a more positive body image.
48. What scares you the most?
Hate among people on religious and political views.
49. What do you wear when no one is watching?
50. What’s next for you in your career?
More covers 😉
Content Director & Editor (India): Kamna Malik; Photograph: Jason Kim, Styling: Fabio Immediato; Hair: Gavin Harwin (The Wall Group); Make-up: Christine Cherbonnier (The Wall Group) Assisted by James Clark & Tyler Kufs (Photography), LJ Perez (Styling), Production: Art Department