Marc West finds out what it is like to be a model contender for Oxford Fashion Week

Beauty, it is said, is in the eye of the beholder. Well, on this occasion, mine was under the close scrutiny of four pairs. Lining up in skimpy clothing alongside other nervous individuals and holding a number while having your mugshot taken is not only historically a familiar routine inside the walls of Oxford Castle, but also that of any aspiring model attending a casting session. Of the many hundreds of applicants such as 17 year old Zoe Goriely from Oxford (pictured below), only a lucky few will actually get to sashay down the runway at five fabulous shows across the city next month at Oxford Fashion Week. Each show is cast according to its individual director’s creative vision, so everyone who makes the effort to audition is in with a chance.

“There is potential for every person who comes to cast,” says director Carl Anglim (reassuringly). “The models that shine, and the ones that get casted, are those who radiate confidence, character, professionalism and reliability.”

Eagerly awaiting my opportunity to impress the judging panel, I finally took my first tentative step into the spotlight in front of former Faces of OFW (and Witney girls), Tiffany Saunders and Emma Appleton – who have both gone on to develop successful professional modelling careers in London.

In a unique role reversal, they’re not only curating their own show this year, but are also the ones aiming to spot the talent – and they seemed to be impressed by my swagger (or were they just flattering me?) So, it seems there may be hope for me yet, fingers crossed. Since then, it’s been a waiting game, but the shortlist will finally be announced at a special event tomorrow. However, I don’t think fellow Oxfordshire resident Kate Moss need worry about me just yet.

Now in its fifth year, OFW has grown into an established part of the new fashion week circuit – having featured over 350 designers from 17 countries. It is sponsored by the Oxford Mail, and entertainment writer Katherine MacAlister is one of the casting judges.

With a mixture of private and public shows, from high concept to haute couture, the event really has something for everyone – showcasing designs from fashion graduates, cutting edge artists and established designers such as Matthew Williamson, Valentin Yudashkin and Alexander McQueen.

Full week VIP passes for front row seats at all shows (including champagne) cost £190.

However, if you’ve blown all your money on that new must-have pair of shoes, you can still experience this week of spectacular fashion on a smaller budget. The High Street show at the Varsity Club – featuring designs from Zara, Topshop and Gap – on March 4 will only set you back a fiver. Or, how about a ticket to hear this year’s guest speaker at 1855 Bar? Previous participants have included editor Dolly Jones and male supermodel David Gandy.

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