It wasn’t the millions of people protesting down the streets of London that, bought the fashion capital to a standstill the weekend of March 26th, it was the 118 models pounding the 21 metre runway of the Top Model UK finals.
The weekend saw the end of the 7 month period of the competition that started with a record-breaking 4200 applicants and after a series of interviews during September, October and November, these became the 118 stunning potential models that wowed the 500+ audience on each night of the show finals.
It began on Friday 26th with the Commercial category, consisting of 36 beautifully photogenic girls. The show opened with the slow build up of the song ‘I like the way you move’ in all but complete darkness, minus the subtle shimmer of the glittered backdrop. The gradual build up cultivated into a shocking opening as the music reached its pinnacle, model Sarah H’s head rose and she began her descent down the runway wearing a little red velvet dress from the first collection by Kee Boutique. The rest of the 36 models followed in succession wearing the unique collections of Warrior Vintage and Kaii Couture. After a quick hair and makeup change from the retro 40’s roll to seductive beach waves, the cycle of girls began again but this time wearing the lingerie collection of Sonata and the swimwear of Pallas. The final walks of the girls allowed them to release their inhibitions and own the runway as the intense black smoky eyes and the slick tied back hair opened their faces to heavily compliment the harsh lines, bold colours and unique shapes of the collections of Rosie Benjamin, Leeanne Ripley-Garrett and Gypsophila. The pinnacle of evening came from the moving speech from one of the ambassadors of Children with Leukaemia Yvonne Duggera, herself a sufferer of Leukaemia in adulthood, which definitely inspired guests to further support the charity.
The evening ended on a high note for Tori Rodway, as she scooped the winner’s trophy and she was joined on her walk of victory by the other prize winners; Alex Pratt and Olivia Buckland with their joint first runner up place, second runner up was taken by Abbie Quinton and third runner up went to Tiffany Paggett. Along with the placement trophies, there were two additional prize that went to Jennifer Gutteridge for the best ‘Natural skin beauty’ and the ‘lingerie and beach wear’ award went to Olivia Buckland. The final trophy of the night went to Lauren Cole-Doswell as she raised the most money for Children with Leukaemia through the ‘Public Text Vote’ award. All in all, the evening was a great success which many of the finalists and guests partying on in to the early hours of the morning.
The huge success of the Commercial’s evening was merely the beginning of the three day spectacular and this standard was followed by Saturday night, where 22 Editorial Girls and 13 Classic Women competed for the winner’s title within their category. The evening followed the same arrangement as the previous night; with the obvious exception of their being two award ceremonies, and much like Friday, the runway was walked by a host of beautiful women.
5 ft 11 model Madison Marshall was the lucky winner of the coveted Editorial award and she took her winners walk wearing one of the elegant pieces of Omar Manson’s collection. The designers that dressed the Editorial and runway girls included Holly Spencer, with her decadent range of soft, sophisticated gowns, Gypsophila’s collection of bright summer coloured Spanish flamenco inspired pieces, the high fashion couture evening gown inspired collections of Luna Sky and Omar Manson and, finally, the rich, extravagant fabrics moulded into the impeccable cut of Gianni Lilliu’s collection.
Along with Madison, the other editorial award winners that graced the catwalk with their winners walk comprised of Hayley Wills taking 2nd place, Lucy Mavers holding 3rd place, Erin Hunter taking the ‘Public Vote Award’ and Amy Holdstock receiving Babor’s ‘Natural Skin Beauty’ award.
But the evening didn’t end there. Following the editorial girls, the classic women paraded down the exceedingly long runway wearing the collections of Courting Lily, Gingerbread Millinery and Frank Usher. Natalie opened the show wearing the first ever 're-styled vintage collection' of Courting Lily in heritage inspired pencil skirt and silk blouse combination. The contestants then sported the Post:Modern millinery collection of Gingerbread, followed by one of the collections from the Frank Usher designer house. The Saturday evening shows ended with the award ceremony of The Classics; the award winners were as follows; the Babor ‘Natural Skin Beauty’ award went to Tracey Lee-Caswell, the ‘Public Text Vote Award’ was won by Lynne Bennett, second place went to both Victoria Kean and Melanie Searle and the winner’s award was achieved by 33 year old stunning Cardiff Mum; Storm Thole.
The three day spectacular concluded with the Sunday shows which saw the turn of the World Wide category that saw 38 girls from various countries all over the world came together, representing their country, and battled for the title of Top Model Worldwide. South Africa, Poland, Bermuda, Greece and more all stomped that runway in a range of exquisite designers from the likes of Eva Grygo, Sonya Vajifdar (Monsoon Collection), Pallas Swimwear and Sonata Lingerie to Mong Hsuan Jiang, Kaii Couture, Sonya Vajifdar (Evening Collection), Fabryan and Frank Usher. Deandra Brangman from Bermuda prevailed taking the World Wide winner’s trophy. 1st runner up: Whitney Oni (USA). 2nd runner up: Aimee Camilleri (Malta). 3rd runner up: Georgia Gallacher (England). Along with the placement trophies,
All in all, the weekend was a huge success attracting the star studded guest list an event of such magnitude and excellence truely deserved. The competition itself spanned an intense 7 month period for the Campaign Director, Geoff Cox who said; ‘Congratulations to all of the award winners and finalists of Top Model UK & Top Model Worldwide 2011. An amazing weekend of fashion, excitement and tension, and a job very well done by all of the Top Model team. You are all incredible and I am honoured and humbled to have you on my team.’ The Top Model team itself played a vital role in the production and execution of the competitions final shows and, I'm sure, as Geoff said, all the finalists would like to say ‘a very special 'Thank You' to Danielle, Louise, Paula, Christine and Colin, for their continued support and excellent work’. Although the competition is over, this hopefully won’t be the last we see of the amazing collection of 118 potential models that not only walked the runway, but owned it.
**This was my first article that I wrote for a website publication but due to 'corporate differences' to article had to be pulled... and now graces the eyes of you readers**