French model Marileah Peillard wins the prestigious Elite Model 2012 competition in Shanghai. Sarah Mills reports.
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Known for launching the careers of some of today's most recognisable faces on the catwalk, the Elite Model Look Contest is a sought after accolade.
After castings all over the world 60 finalists gathered in Shanghai on Saturday hoping to scoop the three-year modelling contract on offer - a prize the agency's CEO Stefania Valenti says can be life changing.
SOUNDBITE: Elite World CEO, Stefania Valenti, saying (Italian):
"Through Elite Model Look we have discovered over the last 30 years some of the biggest names that Elite has managed: Cindy Crawford, Gisele Bundchen and Alessandra Ambrioso and we are waiting to find out who will be Elite's next top model."
Delighted with her win,18-year-old Marileah Peillard told reporters she can't believe what's happening:
SOUNDBITE: Model, Marileah Peillard, saying (English):
"I'm so excited, I don't realise [what is happening]."
Lets hope she likes the attention, as her US agent Kwok Chan thinks she has what it takes to hit the big time:
SOUNDBITE: Agent, Kwok Chan, saying (English):
"Marileah is a girl that - I am not going to lie - is a girl that I noticed the first day immediately just because of her striking beauty. She reminds me of a French Cindy Crawford. She is the 1980s supermodel. She has the hair, she has the eyes, she has the lips, she has the face, she has the body. She has everything."
SOUNDBITE: Model, Marileah Peillard, saying (French):
"Modelling had become a dream thanks to this contest, and I am very happy to have realised my dream."
While her dreams came true, the 2000 strong crowd were also treated to a performance from popstar Jessie J.
Without a doubt though - the star of the show was Marileah - a lady it seems we'll be likely to see a lot more of over the next few years.
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