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Fashion archive: Manchester’s next top model?

Thirty years ago the first school for models was started in this country. Currently, that school, the Lucie Clayton agency, is celebrating the anniversary by awarding scholarships at its London, Manchester, and Liverpool studios to promising young girls. For nearly a thousand young ladies this looked like the doorway to a future more glamorous than that of a ballerina, much more possible than that of a film star. The dozen or so who were chosen from the three centres are launched on a career which could lead to a fame more dazzling than the Lily of Laguna’s – for her face was only seen on postcards, and theirs may be seen daily by millions in magazines, on hoardings, on television.

All the seventeen girls (chosen from 265 hopefuls) who were looked over, questioned, and measured by a large panel of judges at the Manchester studio this week declared their fervent ambition to be models. “And what will you do if you do not become a model?” a tall, serenely fair “teenager was asked. “I think I shall try for a university,” she said.

None flinched at the professional analysis of their points. “Drop your hands, dear,” one was told. “I just want to see if your shoulders are level.” A stately brunette had to admit her hip measurement was 40in. “Mm,” was the verdict. “Probably more than you ought to be, but good from our point of view.”

The judges, even the mysteriously lovely red-head, Margaret Brown, one of the London models now most in demand, agreed that the Manchester girls were a more promising collection of beauties than they had seen in London.

Why? Perhaps because they had more individuality; perhaps because they were more natural and unaffected. Perhaps simply because in London there are more opportunities readily available for the glamour-seekers than in Manchester.

What do the judges look for? That is almost impossible to say, apart from the obvious points of physical beauty. Probably a touch of distinction, distinction in its sense of “differentness,” for of one of the chosen four, a shy girl with a small, pale face and a great swathe of fair hair loosely wound round her head, it was said: “She doesn’t know a thing about herself, but when she does…”

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