In search of tomorrow’s Naomi

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In search of tomorrow’s Naomi

Remember the good times? Back in the ’90s, when Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer and Linda Evangelista strutted down runways? They were drop-dead gorgeous, giga-glamorous and paparazzi-sensational. They were Super Models, with capital letters.
The legend of the Super Model lives on ― in Korea.
This year, for the first time, Korean models will be able to compete in the international Elite Model Look tournament. The qualifying competition will be held Oct. 3 at the Seoul Hilton Convention Center; out of 40 contestants, chosen earlier this month at the COEX Grand Conference Room, two finalists will go on to participate in the Elite Model Look International contest in Singapore on Oct. 19.
The Elite Model Look contests have launched the careers of top models like Cindy Crawford and Stephanie Seymour. Each year, 200,000 applicants take part in Elite’s recruiting, and now that Korea is officially a part of it, it is opening up long-term opportunities for local models on the international stage.
As the fashion industry has experienced a global boom, being a top model has become an even more coveted profession, and Korea is no longer excluded from the race. In the past, ambitious Korean models have entered local competitions, and a handful have bid to work with overseas collections. They rarely succeeded, however, because they lacked backing from agencies with extensive networks and influence. Popular Korean models tended to use modeling to get some name recognition, then move to a more stable career in the entertainment industry.
The Elite agency, founded in 1972 in Paris by John Casablancas and Alain Kittler, set up its international networks in 1997. With New York Elite ranked No. 1 in the business, its first model competition, titled “Look of the Year,” was launched in 1983 to recruit models from 45 countries.
When Gerald Marie, the current president of Elite Model Management, joined the agency in 1986, Elite doubled its turnover in five years, leading the international expansion of networks. Elite set up the Top Model System, elevating some of its models to star status. Providing the industry with beautiful women from around the world, Elite became the world’s largest and best-known modeling agency. The company expects its revenues to reach $117 million in 2004.
In 2002, the company added seven new agencies to its 40 worldwide: One Model Management New York, Elite Men New York, Elite Prague, Elite Bratislava, Elite Shanghai, Elite Hanoi and Elite Seoul.
For more information, visit Elite Model Look Korea’s Web site ( or call 02-542-4558.

by Ines Cho
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