Neelam Gill: Burberry's New It Girl

by Maggie Dolan / photographed by Amar Daved
Dress by Tom Ford. Cosmetics by Burberry Beauty.

When 19-year-old Neelam Gill made her modeling debut last September at Burberry's Spring 2014 show, undoubtedly the biggest and most widely attended event at London Fashion Week, she hadn't ever been on a runway, let alone on a runway in heels. "I'd never walked, not even in Graduate Fashion Week," remembers the British teen, who grew up in Coventry more interested in gymnastics than fashion. "Most girls have a runway lesson or something but I had nothing! And all the girls at the casting were talking about how they had been to Milan and done this and that, and I was sitting there like, 'Wait, what am I going to do in these heels? How do I walk? Do I turn at the end?' I practiced literally every day after I got cast. I would go out to my garden in these Burberry shoes and get my mom to record me on my iPhone."

Walking exclusively in the international mega brand's Fall and Spring 2014 runway shows, Gill joins the Burberry clan alongside big-name beauties like Jourdan Dunn, Edie Campbell and Cara Delevingne and can be seen -- trench coat-clad -- in the Mario Testino-shot spring ad campaign plastered on billboards from New York to Tokyo. "The first time I saw the campaign, I went with my best friend to the Knightsbridge store, the Bond Street store and the flagship on Regent Street [in London]," says Gill. "We took so many pictures of it because I wanted to treasure it forever. It's so surreal."

Dress by Valentino and shoes by Dsquared2

With her wide eyes, next-level cheekbones, thick, dark brows and beanstalk limbs, Gill, who is not only one of the few nonwhite faces promoting a fashion brand but the first Indian to be cast in a Burberry campaign, is a striking beauty of mature innocence. "It was a huge deal, especially for Indians, for me to model with such a big fashion house," she says. "I was quite scared thinking about how people were going to react, but everyone's been really supportive. I get tweets and people writing on Instagram every day. Burberry just saw something in me; I'll never know what, but I am grateful."

Styled by Chris Preston

Makeup by Michael Gray at David Artists using Dermalogica / Hair by Ernesto Montenovo at Phamous Artists using Kerastase / Manicure by Michelle Class at David Artists using Chanel.

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