Words Helen Jennings
Beachfront bars, skyscrapers, sushi restaurants and five-star hotels – the results of Angola’s recent economic growth are writ large across Luanda’s ever-expanding landscape. These sights welcomed the ARISE team as we arrived in the city in early May to attend the 2012 Elite Model Look Angola final. The televised event at the new and shining Complexo Paz Flôr saw a showdown between 10 beautiful, willowy girls, who had been whittled down from more than 1,500 applicants countrywide.
After three weeks of intensive training, the final was their moment to shine. Each one walked four times for the judging panel, which was made up of veteran model Nayma Mingas, ARISE photographer Paul Farnham, Elite president Michaela Goddard-Quesada, Vogue Portugal’s Paulo Macedo and CEO of Semba Comunicação Coreón Dú. The girls also did the odd wiggle to performances by soulful crooner C4 Pedro, spicy rapper DJ Tafinha and, my favourite, Afrikanas - Angola’s answer to Girls Aloud.
The heart-shaped faced winner, 17-year-old Verónica Bartolomeu (pictured above), will now join finalists from 80 countries at the grand final of this annual model hunt in China later this year. Whether she wins the big one or not, a good career in fashion awaits her. The past two winners, Elsa Baldaia and Roberta Narciso, both appeared at ARISE Magazine Fashion Week 2012 alongside Chika Emmanuella and Chinwe Ejere their Elite Model Look Nigeria counterparts.
2012 marks a decade of peace in Angola so it’s good to see this competition, now in its third year in the country, continuing to do its small part in helping promote the positive and creative energies coming together in this thriving, complex country.