An 18-year-old Doha resident will represent the region for the first time at the Elite Model Look global finals in China later this year.
Australian Isabella Haycock, who has lived with her family in Doha for the last five years, won the UAE and Qatar finals of the Elite Model Look contest on Saturday night, beating 11 finalists scouted this summer in a six-month search for the region’s next top model.
“I’m over the moon, so excited,” said Haycock on Saturday night at the event at the Oberoi hotel in Dubai, wearing a purple gown, as her proud parents looked on. “This has been my dream since I was little. I was really positive, confident and believed in myself and did what I do best. I felt like I was the most positive one, making the other girls feel good.”
The contest is in its 30th year and for the first time included a leg in the UAE and Qatar.
Having graduated from high school, Haycock plans to take the next year off and see where her modelling career takes her. She’ll compete in the contest’s global finals in Shenzen, China, in November against 69 winners from around the world, and if she wins, gets a contract with Elite agency and one of the best career launchpads available. The modelling contest in past editions has been won by the likes of Cindy Crawford and Gisele Bundchen
The final decision was made by Victoria Dasilva, director of Elite Model Look, who said Haycock won thanks to her attitude as much as her beauty and walk — as important in today’s modelling world as looks.
“For me what makes the difference was her positive attitude and her motivation. She really wanted to win but at the same time, in a kind way. She wanted to continue the experience. This is becoming more and more important in the business. These days, the idea of beauty is broader, so I have a more open mind to choose different kinds of beauty. What will make the difference between a model and a top model is the motivation and the personality.”
The next step is two weeks’ training in China before a contest. “The most important for me is that the national finalists will spend an amazing experience all together,” added Dasilva. “All the girls from all around the world meet together and spend two weeks and they will become friends for life.”
Saturday’s event was the culmination of months of casting sessions in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha, with judges (including this writer) meeting hundreds of modelling hopefuls aged 14 and over. After a national final, the remaining 12 finalists had a week of training, guiding them in hair and make-up, fitness and the all-important model walk before walking the runway in front of hundreds of VIP guests on Saturday night. The models wore simple black t-shirts and leggings, abayas by Dubai-based designer Lamya Abedin, and gowns from Dubai boutique Si Fashion Galerie.
“It’s been a very exciting journey to host the first Elite Model Look contest in the region,” said Ganesh Iyer, managing partner at FLC Models, organisers of the contest with Elite. “We at FLC Models take pride in saying that we have discovered some great talent in the region and feel proud to have a representative from the region competing on the world platform of Elite Model Look. We wish Isabella loads of luck and would like her to win the world title and do the region proud”