If the third annual image Model Search proved anything, it's that it sometimes takes brains to win a contest based on beauty. The winners, Maria Radeva and Avi Dan-Goor, were the only two contestants who thought of teaming up during the online voting portion of the competition. Their sharp thinking kept them several steps ahead of their competitors until the final votes were tallied last week at Fashion Show mall's Great Hall.
As shoppers leaned over the level two balconies and clung to the velvet ropes to get an eyeful of the final elimination, the six finalists galloped down the runway in three different looks. Some blushed as fans cried out their names. Others absorbed the moment the same way a Victoria's Secret Angel would.
But when the runway cleared off and the music faded out, a lonely microphone took center stage. The glory moment quickly changed into a hot seat situation. Each finalist answered two unrehearsed questions. They ranged from thoughts on Kate Moss' cocaine scandal to the skinny debate in the fashion industry to a choice between beauty and brains. Their answers would influence the "personality" and "marketability" components of judges' voting cards ("runway style" and "appearance" completed the list).
One contestant miserably fumbled her responses, while others delivered logical answers. The former disappointed judges, but so did the latter in some cases.
"I like a model with spunk," said Jerry Metellus, judge and local fashion photographer. "Models are susceptible to being naive ... (Quick wit) shows me you can find a fine way of getting out of certain things and still be diplomatic about it." For him, the winning models proved themselves in this area, Radeva in particular.
A week earlier, image ran a series of fun facts about the finalists. Radeva listed judge Clint Holmes' "Playground in My Mind" as the last song she downloaded. Before she answered her questions, Holmes called Radeva a "good liar," claiming she probably hadn't been born when the song debuted. Without skipping a beat, the female finalist broke into an out-of-tune rendition of the "Playground" chorus. The audience broke into applause.
"You have to be super smart to be a model," Radeva said backstage before the show. "There was always both sides to me. As soon as I'd finish a math exam, I'd start doing my makeup." A dead ringer for '80s supermodel Paulina Porizkova, Radeva has a master's degree in public administration from UNLV.
After all the questions were answered, the judges (Clint Holmes, Melanie and Michael from Sunny 106.5, Ken Henderson of the Best Agency, Metellus, celebrity stylist Michael Boychuck, Channel 13's Bryan Scofield and image editor Susan Stapleton) submitted their votes. While the numbers were tabulated, Clint Holmes performed "If Not Now, When?" on the runway.
When the finalists were called back, Holmes made the first announcement. Tori Fuhriman and Garret Jason Greer came in second runners-up. Planet Hollywood Resort CEO Mike Mecca announced first runners-up, Jaclyn Pincock and Brandon Albright as well as winners, Radeva and Dan-Goor.
"It's amazing. It had to be the both of us," said Dan-Goor of his and Radeva's win. "It's almost like a dream."
For the first time in the three years of the image Model Search, two models formed an alliance. How "Survivor" of Radeva and Dan-Goor, who were front runners the whole way through. The duo asked friends, family and MySpacers to vote for Radeva on the female side and Dan-Goor on the male side. The strategy paid off handsomely. During the six weeks of online voting Radeva and Dan-Goor generated, in some cases, more than double the votes of their closest competitors. Radeva, a Bulgarian native, brought a slew of overseas votes in after Bulgarian press jumped on the story.
"That was our little public administration thinking," Radeva said.
Radeva and Dan-Goor will receive a photo spread in image, a contract with Best Agency, a professional modeling assignment representing Planet Hollywood Resort, a ZED card with photos taken by Jerry Metellus, $1,500 cash and gift certificates from the Review-Journal, Amp Salon, Dillard's and Michael E. Minden Diamond Jewelry.
Contact fashion reporter Xazmin Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 383-0477.