On a scorching hot, sunny Saturday, a small crowd was rapidly forming at the Elite Model stand in Braehead Shopping Centre, Glasgow. Despite the rare glimpse of summer and even the keenest of shoppers flocking away from the shops to parks to soak up the sun, representitives from top modelling agency Elite were out in force, searching for the next model to grace the fashion world. The latest chart music was blaring, lights were glowing and make-up artists were setting up their stations. The glamour of the modelling world had been brought to Braehead for one day only – and would-be models were keen to prove they had what it takes to make it.
Elite, the agency that discovered Cindy Crawford and Gizele Bündchen, have been touring shopping centres in the UK as part of their Elite Model Look contest. The team are looking for 12 girls and 12 boys who will then go through a week-long model bootcamp. Judges will then pick one male and one female winner who will not only win a 12 month modelling contract but will go on to the world final in China. Additionally, one female finalist will be chosen to be the face of Look Beauty, Look magazine’s new make-up range. The campaign will feature in Superdrug stores across the country.
But before modelling stardom can be achieved, the first hurdle for applicants to get through was the initial casting. By the time I had battled my way through traffic to arrive at the event, plenty of application forms had already been filled out, giving details of candidate’s career aspirations, passions and interests along with height and measurements. After having their make-up done by the team, the hopefuls posed for a Polaroid picture, which would be studied by the Elite team. I caught up with Elite’s PR and Production Manager, Ailish, who had wasted no time in studying the photos taken so far. “We are looking for up to 10 people today. We look for someone who is the right height, clear skin, just someone who is an Elite girl. It’s weird how some girls translate on the camera – some people are just so photogenic.” Ailish also emphasised that there was room for the girls to grow and improve. “We’re not just looking for the finished product.”
The team weren’t only relying on people stopping by the stand – scouts were pro-actively looking for potentials, making their way round the shopping centre, stopping girls and guys they think could have what it takes. “The general requirements are someone tall, with a great personality and classically beautiful. We look for quirkiness sometimes – but it helps if the girls have a good personality to pull it off,” the scout explained.
Stopping by the make-up area, I couldn’t help but notice the natural make-up looks that the artists were applying whilst doing the complimentary make-overs. “It’s better to come along looking natural without too much make-up on.” Yvonne, one of the make-up artists told me. I was amazed by the age of the girls – most were 14-16. Wandering about the stand was my little cousin, 12, who at first claimed she didn’t want to enter but was soon persuaded by her friend who told her, “Just think, if you become a model you can get your photo everywhere and go out with One Direction!” Before I knew it, she was posing for her polaroid photo.
From the 100 or so applicants, only 7 girls were chosen (the search for boys proved less than successful in Glasgow) and by the time 4pm rolled around, the stand stopped accepting applicants, calls had been made and 7 excited girls were now lined up in a row, chattering and getting to know each other whilst having their hair done. They were the lucky ones – they had been chosen, either by being scouted or by approaching the stand of their own accord.
“I was pretty amazed to be called. I mean, I knew I was tall (5’7”) and I saw the event in a magazine so thought I may as well come along,” Megan, 15, told me.
“I was stopped at the food court. I’m really excited, it will be really cool,” Natalie, 14, added.
After the seven girls had their hair done, high heels on and changed into black Elite T-shirts, it was time to head upstairs for catwalk training where they would be given a 30-minute lesson on how to walk. Observing the training and thankful I wouldn’t be asked to join in, I learned that there is a real art to strutting down the catwalk. Some of the girls had never worn heels before and not all of them took to it right away. However, the Elite team did everything they could to put the girls at easte. “Don’t be nervous,” the coach told them. “Remember Naomi Campbell fell over, so don’t worry about it.” Despite the fact that catwalk training takes years to master and cannot be learned in 30 minutes, after the lesson was over the girls were all looking so much more confident on the catwalk.
As 5pm rolled around, it was time for the final stage in the process – the much-anticipated strut down the catwalk. With music blasting and the crowd that had gathered clapping enthusiastically, the girls got their first taste of modelling as they walked for the crowd, looking remarkably calm and professional for their young ages.
As the event wrapped up and the lights, make-up and catwalk were packed away, the finalists were sent home with the promise that Elite would be in touch if they were interested in progressing to the next stage.
The modelling world is brutal and only the strongest survive. In an industry that is often stereotyped for being heavily focused on weight and looks, the Elite model team and indeed the 7 girls they chose, were a breath of fresh air. There was no pretentiousness and they handled the task with maturity and humour. Overall, a successful day of casting in Glasgow was over.
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