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Monday June 14, 2010

Talents from Down Under

Australian models make their presence felt on fashion runways.

ONE incentive that winners of Estee Lauder Model Search 2010 will get to enjoy is an all-expenses-paid trip to Australia, and get to star in a glamorous holiday photoshoot Down Under!

Who knows, you may even bump into one of Australia’s top models while striking your pose on the streets of Melbourne.

Just as Hollywood has been dominated by Australian thespians, such as Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts and Simon Baker, the global catwalks have been overtaken by leggy Ozzy beauties. Here’s a look at a handful of top models from Australia.

Elle MacPherson

The most recognisable name on this list, the veteran model is best known as The Body, securing a record five cover appearances for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in the 1980s.

MacPherson was in Malaysia in April for the filming of Britain’s Next Top Model; she is the host and executive producer of the popular reality show contest on modelling.

Born Eleanor Nancy Gow on March 29, 1964 in Sydney, Australia, her original plan was to study pre-law at Sydney University. However, when the 18-year-old, 180cm-tall beauty was discovered in Aspen, Colorado, she was immediately signed to Click modelling agency.

MacPherson soon became a staple of Elle magazine, posing for the magazine for six years. While her talent as a clotheshorse was undeniable, her marriage to the fashion magazine’s creative director Gilles Bensimon further secured her relationship with the glossy publication.

She also ventured into the world of exercise videos, motivating and teaching people how to stay fit. Having achieved supermodel status, MacPherson knew that the modelling industry has a high turnover rate so she set her sights on other projects.

She made the crossover from modelling to acting with her debut on the silver screen in the 1990 Woody Allen film Alice. The bespectacled director personally picked her for the part. In 1994, Macpherson acted in Sirens opposite Hugh Grant, followed by a remake of Jane Eyre in 1996 as well as The Mirror Has Two Faces, with Barbra Streisand.

Macpherson became the object of Batman’s affection in 1997’s Batman & Robin, and co-starred with Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin in The Edge. She was also memorable in a recurring role as Joey’s roommate in hit sitcom Friends.

Not only that, MacPherson has used her business acumen to start a lingerie line called Elle Macpherson Intimates in 1990. Based in Australia, the company has since grown into a multimillion-dollar enterprise.

Gemma Ward

When she was 16, Gemma Ward was the youngest girl to be listed by American Vogue as one of the nine “It Girls” in the modelling world.

Ward, 23, is currently considered model of the moment by many fashion insiders and fans, having been described at times as having an out-of-this-world look.

British photographer Nick Knight stated: “Gemma is one of the very, very few models who look as though they come from another dimension.”

Born in Perth, Ward is now based in New York City and is close friends with fellow models Lily Donaldson, Caroline Winberg, Daria Werbowy and Lily Cole.

Ward’s baby doll-like look inspired a new craze in fashion. Fashion designer Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler told Teen Vogue in February 2006: “She looked like no one else at the time. She was this alien, and fashion is always looking for newness.”

Her look has inspired a new generation of baby doll-like models such as Vlada Roslyakova, Heather Marks and Jessica Stam.

Ward has long aspired to pursue acting, and drama is a passion that she has had since she was a child. She has been cast in Australian director Elissa Down’s film The Black Balloon, co-starring Toni Collette and Rhys Wakefield, as the girlfriend of a boy whose brother has autism. Previously, she has acted opposite Liv Tyler in the suspense thriller The Strangers as one of the three masked intruders. She also appeared in the music video for John Mayer’s Daughters.

Her modelling campaigns have included Balenciaga, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Hermes, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Jil Sander, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Swarovski, Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent.

Travis Fimmel

He is the hunky farmboy who became an underwear model sensation.

Travis Fimmel, 30, grew up on a farm outside Echuca, Victoria, the youngest of three brothers. At the age of 18, Fimmel moved to Melbourne to play football and study project management at RMIT University.

However, his football career was cut short when he broke his leg. The 180cm-tall Fimmel began modelling in 1998, when he was approached in a Melbourne gym by Matthew Anderson, a booker from Chadwick Model Management.

Fimmel later rose to prominence as the star of Calvin Klein’s Crave advertising campaign.

He dabbled in TV, playing the titular role in WB network’s failed television series Tarzan, and in The Beast opposite the late Patrick Swayze.

Fimmel has also appeared in two music videos, I’m Real by Jennifer Lopez and Someone to Call My Lover by Janet Jackson.

Miranda Kerr

“I’m smart about my work and I save my money because I know modelling is a short career and won’t be there forever,” Miranda Kerr was once quoted as saying.

Born Miranda May Kerr on February 20, 1983, in Sydney, she now resides in New York City. She was discovered after winning a modelling competition organised by Dolly magazine in 1997.

Away from modelling, Kerr made tabloid news by dating hot Hollywood actor Orlando Bloom. She has appeared in Pharrell’s music video Number One as well as an episode of hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother in 2007.

She was named the 10th highest paid model in the world by Forbes in 2008.

Kerr has been featured in numerous runway shows, including Trovata, Betsey Johnson, Rachel Roy, Victoria’s Secret and Rock & Republic. Her modelling campaigns included Maybelline, Victoria’s Secret, Arden B., Clinique Parfum and David Jones.

According to renowned fashion photographer Russell James: “The United States has fallen in love with Miranda. We love her because she has the most incredible girl-next-door look and she’s also insanely beautiful. It means women are not intimidated by her looks and guys think they might be able to talk to her. It’s a fantastic combination ... people want to be around her.”

Alice Burdeu

“Trust your instincts and don’t obsess too much,” said Alice Burdue when quizzed on her secret of success.

Born January 27, 1988 in Melbourne, Burdue won Australia’s Next Top Model in 2007.

Although a newcomer in the industry, she has walked the runway for many influential couturiers, such as Charlotte Ronson, Marchesa, Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler, Tory Burch, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Moschino Cheap&Chic, Jil Sander, and Dolce & Gabbana.

Her modelling campaigns have included D&G, Ford Fiesta XR4, Green With Envy, Mondial Jewellers, Napolean Perdis and Willow.

She has graced the editorials of Vogue Australia (Sept 2007 and July 2008 issues) and Marie Claire Italia (Sept 2008).

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