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Beauty pageants not all that pretty


Why is it that those who virtually define a category so often deny membership? Such as:

NOT YUPPIES who wear Rolexes and drive BMWs and who identified so strongly with "thirtysomething" that they sent flowers to Gary's funeral.

NOT FASHION VICTIMS, who dress in too-trendy clothes they shouldn't be allowed to buy.

NOT BEAUTY PAGEANTS, which feature scantily clad women parading in front of a judging panel competing for a title.

Count among the last category the Elite Look of the Year contest, held Sept. 3 at the Plaza Hotel in New York. The organizers didn't put a crown on the head of 18-year-old Ingrid Seynhaeve of Belgium, so this was NOT A BEAUTY PAGEANT.

Despite the swimsuit competition. Despite the panel of judges. Despite the judging criteria, which started with "beauty."

It was, agency owner John Casablancas clarified, a gala contest in search of "overall modeling potential."

(For the record, Miss America officials say their contest is NOT A BEAUTY PAGEANT, either. And they at least have talent and interview segments.)

In any case, "the look" isn't all that different from previous looks. Despite Elite's global search and the fact that models no longer need to be blue-eyed blonds to qualify as beautiful, winners still tend to have certain similar qualities.

Seynhaeve is tall, thin and glamorous, with a thick mass of hair and long, long legs. She's reminiscent of Cindy Crawford, a former winner and now one of the modeling industry's hottest stars.

For the first time, the contest included two contestants from the Soviet Union. Both became finalists, and one also won the Maybelline "Most Beautiful Eyes" Award. Next thing you know, Moscow will be a fashion capital. Raisa would love that.

Entertainment was a sneak peek of "Pageant," a Broadway play with men in drag competing for the title of Miss Glamoresse. The guys, incidentally, don't mind calling it A BEAUTY PAGEANT.

Spectators and photographers were more interested in the show in the audience than the one on stage.

Rocker Axl Rose escorted model Stephanie Seymour to the event, both clad in faded, ripped jeans among all the sequins and glitz. While the couple pretended to be put out by the paparazzi, they proceeded to paw each other, prominently making out in the second row before slipping out the back way halfway through the show.

Seems that winning the Look of the Year title might get you a rock star boyfriend, but it doesn't guarantee class.

Are you listening, Ingrid?

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