Young models given a chance to shine in London

Barely a week after they strolled the runway for the first time, Bermudian models Kalena Astwood and Julia Lines are headed for the big league.

The pair will represent Bermuda next year at Top Model Worldwide, a global fashion competition held in London. The girls were selected from 13 other models, themselves shortlisted from the 98 women who modelled in the Evolution fashion show last weekend.

At the announcement at City Hall yesterday, Top Models operations director Geoff Cox said the decision had been made only after “a gruelling and hectic 48 hours of constant debate”.

The girls who had not modelled professionally before the City Hall fashion show last weekend were almost lost for words after hearing the news.

“It’s overwhelming but I’m so excited,” said Ms Lines, 14, a Bermuda High School student who had not considered modelling until someone suggested she audition for the Evolution show.

Ms Astwood, who has a degree in accounting, appeared equally stunned.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet. Modelling is something I always wanted to try, but I never imagined this,” said the 22-year-old.

The two will travel to London next March to learn modelling techniques and participate in a professional fashion show. Although the models are still novices, Mr Cox said their inexperience would not harm them.

“They’ll be great. Sometimes it’s good to have completely new models because you can work with their natural talent and they aren’t spoiled yet by bad habits,” he said.

Among the invited guests at the announcement yesterday was Premier Paula Cox, who said it was “extraordinarily humbling to be among such a bevy of beauties”.

“I’m very proud of you. I want you to continue to walk regally and proud as ladies who are standard-bearers for this country. You are beautiful,” she told the 13 finalists.

Ms Astwood and Ms Lines, at 5ft 8ins and 5ft 10ins respectively, towered over the Premier as she warmly embraced them both after the announcement. “Why couldn’t I have been born at least five or six inches taller?” joked the Premier, to much amusement.