Budding catwalk queens will be vying for the Top Model of Sunderland crown when the competition returns to the city this summer.
Now in its fourth year, the annual competition has established itself as a stepping stone into the modelling industry for women from the region, while also raising thousands of pounds for the Foundation of Light.
Around 100 women entered this year’s competition, which has been whittled down to 15 finalists for the finale catwalk show which will take place at The Grand hotel in Seaburn on June 1.
Director of Top Model of Sunderland, Ailish Shaw, said she was delighted with the response this year.
“This has probably been our biggest year yet,” she explained. “I think year-on-year the competition is becoming more well-known and, for a lot of girls, it’s been a great introduction into the modelling industry.”
Open to women of all shapes and sizes aged 16-29, winning the regional title gives the winner automatic entry into the Supermodel England national contest - and there are still a few remaining places in the Sunderland final up for grabs.
Speaking about what she is looking for, Ailish said: “I like a lot of variety in the finals, so girls with different heights, hair colour, personality and style. I find it really rewarding when girls haven’t done anything like this before because it really boosts their confidence and they go on to gain modelling contracts and do other competitions. This is a great place to start for a local girl.”
For last year’s winner, Georgia Mordey from Washington, it’s opened up a number of opportunities.
The 20-year-old, who works for Lookers Motor Group, has taken part in a number of modelling assignments, including a show for her sponsor StudioB in Sunderland, and raised money for her chosen charity, Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice, with events including a sponsored sky dive.
She said: “I’ve taken part in other competitions, but this is definitely more modelling-focused, rather than being like an American-style pageant. I feel like I gain more and more experience with each one. After winning Top Model of Sunderland I was named first runner up in Supermodel England, which was amazing, It also means I win a place in this year’s national final too.
“For the girls competing this year I would advise them to be themselves and be confident in themselves. People think you need a certain look to take part, but when you’re confident that shines through.”
The finalists will take part in a number of rounds, including evening wear and personal style. Last year’s final raised around £5,000 for the Foundation of Light, the official charity of SAFC, and Cherie Lauder, donor relations officer from the charity, will be one of the judges on the night.
She said “This is a great event for us, which is really well organised. On the night I’ll be looking for a girl who’s enjoying herself and having fun.”
•Anyone interested in applying for Top Model of Sunderland can visit http://www.topmodelofsunderland.co.uk/