Five-year-old Laila Naim thinks she is a brown Rapunzel. To the rest of the world, however, she is now better known as the first-ever Pakistani model for Burberry, the 159 year-old British luxury fashion brand.
Naim’s pictures were released on the Burberry website, Facebook and Instagram pages, on March 20. She is seen as wearing the brand’s signature trench coat, standing next to a white, golden-haired boy. A checkered-print scarf is loosely tied around the two children, with a knot in the front, as they stand against an aqua-blue wall.
Naim, who lives in London, was spotted at one of the Burberry auditions for children. ”She is a natural. At her first shoot, the shoot’s creative director asked if she had been doing this for a long time,” her mother Sadia Siddiqui, herself a model, told Pakistani newspaper, Dawn.
The little Pakistani girl probably also draws her confidence from an early exposure to being on stage: She started singing at the age of three, and can act and dance. In London, she attends a theatre academy.
And back at her grandparent’s home in Islamabad, which Niam visits every summer, there’s a slightly different obsession: Biryani, the popular rice and meat dish from the Indian subcontinent.
So far, she has appeared in Burberry’s latest children spring/summer catalogue and its winter campaign 2015. In doing so, she has joined the ranks of English models Cara Delevingne and Kate Moss, actress Emma Watson, and footballer David Beckham’s 12-year-old son Romeo Beckham, who have all worked with the high-end brand.
In England’s high-end fashion industry, Asian models are rare, said Siddiqui, despite the community being the largest minority in the country.
No wonder then that Burberry’s Instagram post featuring Niam has got more 78,600 likes in four days—way more than most of its other posts.