Published: Wednesday November 19, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday November 19, 2014 MYT 9:32:30 AM

From mere mortal to model

Make me famous: The seven finalists of reality competition series Fit For Fashion. Who gets eliminated off the runway next?

Make me famous: The seven finalists of reality competition series Fit For Fashion. Who gets eliminated off the runway next?

Our columnist delivers his verdict on a new reality competition series which transforms ordinary people into fit fashionistas.

WHAT happens when The Biggest Loser meets America’s Next Top Model?

The answer, ladies and gents, is Fit For Fashion (Thursday, 9.40pm, StarWorld, Astro). The newest reality competition series to hit our goggle-box aims to transform ordinary men and women into fit fashionistas.

I had high hopes for Fit For Fashion as it comes from the folks who brought us The Apartment (a regional-based interior design competition show).

But its combined premise of weight loss and modelling results in a confusing hybrid, where the rules are seemingly made-up along the way, and promising contestants get eliminated early on. (More on this later.)

Shot at the beautiful Tanjong Jara Resort in Terengganu, Fit For Fashion plucks 12 contestants from all walks of life. They face a range of fitness and fashion challenges which will push them to their limits over the course of the show’s 10 episodes.

What does the ultimate winner get? Well, besides looking fit and fabulous, he or she sashays away with an array of prizes including US$100,000 (RM334,350). The cash prize alone makes me wonder how I can sign up for the next season.

The contestants live and work in the region, including Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Hong Kong and the Philippines. Some of them are born outside of Asia, with the United States, Britain, Australia, South Africa and Russia being represented.

From the initial dozen, finalists have been narrowed down to seven. One of them is Shiva Nithiabala, 37, a Malaysian who has just returned to the country after spending 13 years working in Mongolia.

His competitors include Citira Corrigan, 33, an Australian who currently lives in Singapore; Jerald Foo, 27, born and bred in Singapore; Chelsey Hall, 27, a British who runs a charity in Boracay; Matthew Kosub, 28, an Australian who works as an actor in Singapore; and Kristina Pakhomova, 22, a Singapore-based Russian actress/model.

Last but not least, there’s the plucky Vanessa Ammann, 25, from Cebu who is a mermaid coach. (My first reaction was: What the fish is a mermaid coach?!)

Thus far, we have bade adieu to Andrew McCarthy, 26, an American-Chinese who was raised in Hong Kong; Fred Burnard, 36, who lives in Boracay, but is originally from South Africa; Hema Lata Veerasamy, 25, a Malaysian medical graduate who can speak five languages; Ming Wolf, 19, of German/Burmese descent and a student in Singapore; and Rusty Thompson, 32, a Filipino-American who has served in the army and currently studies in New York.

Along the way, the contestants are guided by a team of celebrity judges: host Louise Roe, fashion photographer Todd Anthony Tyler, and trainers Christine Bullock and Mitch Chilson.

Personally, I am a fan of Louise (host of Plain Jane and Fashion Star). Given a broader role in Fit For Fashion, the British presenter – displaying a stern yet warm demeanour – shines even more.

Christine and Mitch, meant to be drill sergeants who push contestants to lose weight and get fit, lack the intensity of The Biggest Loser’s trainers. But almost everyone on this show, from the judges to the contestants, comes across as affable.

Even Todd Anthony, who was stiff and detached as a judge on the first season of Asia’s Next Top Model, is more laidback here; perhaps a luxury beachside resort as the setting helps.

A distraction, for me at least, are the (blatant) product placements: from what the contestants eat for breakfast (a healthy fitness cereal!) right down to which brand they wear when they hit the gym.

Also disconcerting is the elimination process, which differs one week to the next. While it does keep things unpredictable, I feel there should be a set formula to the proceedings; otherwise how is the eventual result fair?

For instance, in Episode Two, Louise asked Chelsey to decide who she wanted to be in the bottom two. Why was Chelsey given the power to decide her team-mates’ fate? The puzzling move resulted in Andrew (whom I thought was a front-runner) getting eliminated, over the overly-timid Ming.

At the moment, I’m betting on Citira to win the whole shebang. The former fitness trainer is a beguiling blend of strength and vulnerability. More importantly, she seems like a nice person.

After all, a person may be good looking but the best asset – and accessory – is kindness.

Besides reality competition shows on fashion and modelling, William is addicted to Masterchef Australia. Though he can’t cook to save his life. Send feedback to

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