Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ford Supermodel of the World Contest


The Winner: Sanne Nyjhos of The Netherlands

(All photos by Randy Brooke for Lookonline.com)

Ford Models announced the winner of their yearly Supermodel of the World contest last night, January 17, 2006, at a fashion show held at Skylight studios at 275 Hudson Street.


First Runner-up: Viktoryia Makhota of Belarus

Sanne Nyjhos of the Netherlands took the edge from Viktoryia Makhota of Belarus in a tight race for the $250,000 modeling contract. The panel of judges consisting of Eileen Ford, Katie Ford (CEO) and a team of managing agents in the New York office, covered their bases and announced more runner-ups than the usual 2 from the 45 finalists representing their countries. Second runner up was Marie Louise Korsager from Denmark, followed by a brunette with blue eyes, Vanessa da Cruz from Brazil and Kate Somers from Canada.


Second Runner-up: Marie Louise Korsager of Denmark

The fashion show, sponsored by G’Day USA’s Australia Week (Fashion Designers Association of Australia), featured 7 up-and-coming Australian designers ((Toni Matecevski, Le Grew, Kylie Zerbst for Obus, Gail Sorronda, Ruth Tarvydas, George Wu and Alvin Fernandez for Ael’kemi.) The fashion show opened with 8 aborigines flown in from Sydney, moving to the primal sounds of their native music. After the show, the beautiful Ford model/actress, Patricia Velasquez, took center stage to announce the winners.


Third Runner-up: Vanessa da Cruz from Brazil

The fashion show and party after the show, ably handled by the PR firm, Laforce+Stevens, had the guests drinking ‘everything Australian’ (wine, vodka, etc.) In full force was the Ford family of models including Carmen Dell’Orefice, Crystal Renn, Juliana Imai, Cameron Russell and past winners: Katya, Chanel Iman and Camilla Finn. The guest of honor was John Olsen, the Australian Council General. Guests’ goody bags were hair products from the other sponsors, Westfield and Nexxus Salon Hair Care.


Fourth Runner-up: Kate Somers from Canada

Asked about Ford’s position on the recent health guidelines set by the CFDA regarding ultra thin models, Katie Ford exclaims, “We love the guidelines!” This is not a surprise as Ford is known for its strict handling of models. Craig Lawrence, one of the judges and a women’s division agent at Ford, “We have been speaking to the models about drinking and asking the designers to have healthier fare backstage for the models besides champagne. In fact, nutritious meals from NuKitchen is being served to the contestants for the duration of their stay in New York.”


Eileen Ford, second from left and the model Carmen Dell'Orefice, third from the left.

The Ford modeling agency, a fashion institution, is in their 60th year this coming October. With six decades of providing the fashion world with the “clean” look - healthy, wholesome, all-American look (Christy Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs, Christy Turlington, to name a few), this blue chip modeling agency continues that tradition in their choice of winners for the 26th Supermodel contest. Eileen Ford, the ultimate ‘den mother’ of fashion models, resplendent in a red satin suit, looked proud and pleased with all her children.

-Anna Bayle

Additional runway photos: picture 1 picture 2 picture 3 picture 4 picture 5 picture 6

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Beauty is as Beauty Does: The Changing Face (and body) of Fashion

Is ugly the ‘new’ pretty? Is chubby the new skinny? Along with ushering in a brand New Year, are we also ushering in a new standard for beauty? Not only has the year begun with more and more (quite deserved) attention being focused on the problem of unhealthy, unnatural, and life threatening skinniness (especially in terms of the fashion industry, emaciated models, and the way in which their impossible to achieve ‘look’ influences and impacts on the public who looks up to them and seeks to emulate them). But perhaps we are ushering in a new, far more forgiving aesthetic that will have far reaching impact.

Not only is the fashion world being pressured to rethink their aesthetic in terms of body weight, but following the recent Golden Globe Awards and the crowning of ‘Ugly Betty’ and its star America Ferrara, much has made of the fact that ‘Ugly’ is the new ‘Pretty’. A recent ABC News article that appeared online, “America Ferrera Makes ‘Ugly’ Beautiful”, observed, “America Ferrera has made it cool to be "ugly." The Golden Globe-nominated actress has won fans and accolades for her role in the hit ABC show "Ugly Betty." She recently told ABC News' Robin Roberts that she couldn't be happier about her Golden Globe nomination for best actress and for best show.

"We've worked so hard, and now we can celebrate it together," Ferrera said. "It is a wonderful cast and crew and show to be on. Everyone is so excited." Though some people were appalled by the show's title when it first came out, Ferrera's confident that viewers now get the message that "ugly" isn't meant to insult.

"I think we knew the title would be a little jarring. But once you see it, then you know," she said. "You get it. You know there's irony in the title and it's a commentary on the definition of what ugly and beautiful is."

That said, no title was ironic and more ‘right on’ in terms of acting as a commentary on the definition of what ugly and beautiful is, than “Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women”, written by Michael Gross. But regardless, all of this new awareness and ongoing debate couldn’t have come at a more perfect time since New York Fashion Week and the international round of showings are approaching in the near future.

In fact, it seems that that the eyes of the world (especially the fashion world) will be more focused on and interested in the weight and health of the models than the fall 2007 offerings being proposed by designers. Of course, it should be pointed out that the fall winter season is not necessarily the best indicator of models’ body weight since the clothing is by very nature, covered up, layered, and quite forgiving, so protruding collarbones, bony knees, and rail thin arms are far easier to be hidden under wrap (literally). So the true test will really be in September, for the spring 2008 shows, when the models will be strutting their stuff (or lack thereof) in bikinis, short shorts, minis, and strapless dresses.

-Marilyn Kirschner

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Volunteering for the 7th on Sixth Fashion Shows

Patty Hughes, the volunteer coordinator for 7th on Sixth

Fresh from a summer in Milan spent soaking up Italian language and culture, Peter Migliozzi spotted an ad for a Learning Annex seminar conducted by Patty Hughes, the volunteer coordinator for IMG’s 7th on Sixth. Ms. Hughes was looking for a new crop of volunteers to work at New York’s Fashion Week. Thus, Mr. Migliozzi, who graduated from Hunter College last year with a degree in Anthropology, found himself spending a week in September setting up chairs, unpacking gift bags, and cleaning up backstage at the various venues under the tents at Bryant Park.


Peter Migliozzi

Did he feel that the experience was a valuable one? Absolutely.“I had recently taken a career aptitude test and found that I would be well suited to do something visually oriented. This seemed like an opportunity to consolidate my interests in art and business,” Mr. Migliozzi said. He worked at one show each day during fashion week, which took place from September 8th to September 15th. He was even called upon to serve as a seat filler for a front row VIP at an offsite show (the VIP was a no show).

“What I found most interesting was seeing the whole production come together. I think I might be interested in working in fashion PR or event planning and production.” Mr. Migliozzi said, “It was good to be a part of everything that went on behind the scenes, I just did whatever the captains asked me to do.”

The “captains” are the experienced former volunteers who are lucky enough to land a paid position with IMG supervising the volunteers during fashion week. Ashley Jones, who served as a volunteer during the past two seasons at Bryant Park was tapped to be one of the select few captains during the shows in September. Ms. Jones, a design major, who graduated from FIT last year, was recruited from the school two seasons ago by the aforementioned Ms. Hughes. Although the bulk of the volunteers are FIT students and alums, Ms. Jones has seen people travel cross-country or even from as far away as London, just to spend a week volunteering in the tents.

As a captain, Ms. Jones was stationed in the main venue, “The Tent”, for the entire week. “There are about six captains in all, two in “The Tent”, two in the “Promenade”, and one in each of the other venues, “ said Ms. Jones. She and her co-captain supervise everything that goes on in “The Tent”. That can include anything from assembling press kits to stuffing goody bags, depending upon the show and the P.R. firm running the front of the house.

“I love being in “The Tent” because we get all the biggest shows. We are usually working with a staff of about eighteen to thirty-five volunteers,” Ms. Jones said. Like Mr. Migliozzi, she has found herself particularly interested in the production side of the business. Ms. Jones is currently pursuing various job leads for fashion industry related positions.

Regardless of what happens career wise in the next few months, Ashley Jones will definitely be back as a captain at the shows in February. According to Ms. Jones, “It’s a great experience to be in that environment”. Aspiring volunteers take note: Patty Hughes is always watching to see who might move up in the ranks. One of Ashley Jones’ former captains was promoted to a higher position with IMG.

Patty Hughes, the volunteer coordinator for 7th on Sixth for the past twelve years, was herself a volunteer when she first came to the Bryant Park shows. Her energetic demeanor is almost infectious, and she is entrusted each season with recruiting and managing approximately 450 workers whose performance is crucial to Fashion Week.

A native of Buffalo, Hughes began her tenure with 7th on Sixth shortly after arriving in New York City. She had previously been the host of a late night television program in Buffalo called “Off Beat Cinema”. Ironically, she had no experience to speak of in the fashion industry. “I kept watching the Isaac Mizrahi movie Unzipped and I knew that I was interested in getting involved in fashion and this seemed like a good way to get to know New York.” At the end of Ms. Hughes first season as a volunteer, the job of coordinator became available, she interviewed with Seventh on Sixth’s Fern Mallis and the position was hers.

After several years as an integral part of New York’s fashion week, Patty Hughes has developed a sixth sense for identifying and training a crew of volunteers who work with nearly perfect synergy. Each season, about one third of the volunteers are new recruits. “I train them for fashion shows with a sense of urgency. You have to get it done and it has to be accurate,” observes Ms. Hughes.

During the off-season, Ms Hughes frequently uses her volunteer staff for other events. “I like to build a relationship with my volunteers. The shows provide valuable work experience and the more dedicated the volunteers are the more they get out of it. I get calls for personnel from companies like The North Face and Glamour Magazine. I tell them (the volunteers) to look beyond Fashion Week.”

There are a handful of ground rules that Patty Hughes insists her volunteers adhere to: no pictures, no autographs, no food or drinking, no taking anything not offered, no networking, no leaving with a model, and be courteous at all times. “I tell them you are here for the designer,” she says. Her favorite moments are those when the designers reach out to the volunteers. “Gianni Versace was extremely generous. He hugged the volunteers and thanked them.” Ms. Hughes has also learned to spot the occasional photographer who attempts to gain access to the shows as a volunteer when a request for press credentials is denied. “They ask too many questions about which celebrities will be attending and it becomes obvious why they want to be there,” Ms. Hughes says with a laugh. Each season only about one recruit simply doesn’t work out and has to be let go.

Patty Hughes most recent project is a website called Curvygirlstyle.com. The site has caught the attention of talk show host Rachael Ray and Ms. Hughes will be featured in recurring segments on the Rachael Ray show, focusing on trends for the curvy girl. Also in the works are more Learning Annex seminars for volunteers. For those of you who want more information you can email IMG on volunteer opportunities at IMGNY_volunteers@imgworld.com.

-Rhonda Erb

Related Article: How to Get Into a New York Fashion Show

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