A Dutch experience
They have learned, integrated, exchanged knowledge and
widened their horizons after a month-long stay in Holland.
of Chundikuli Girls' College, Jaffna, Anne Romaine Ockersz of St.
Cecilia Girls' Convent, Batticaloa, Dharmakeerthi Thilanka Perera
of Royal College, Colombo and Fathima Yasmin Wazeer of Sacred Heart
Convent, Galle are four young Sri Lankans, a Sinhalese, a Tamil,
a Muslim, and a Dutch Burgher who went to Netherlands on a mission
to strengthen Dutch-Sri Lankan ties.
was organised to commemorate 400 years of Dutch-Sri Lankan relations.
They lived with different host families and were welcomed with open
They all agree
that Holland was filled with surprises.
the canals, I was living in front of one and this made it even more
special," says Thilanka. He also went on to say what a wonderful
experience it was to see a different way of life. He went to Holland
wanting to open them up to Buddhism and Sinhala culture, and this
he feels he was able to share.
Natyam surprised them," said Premila, "I also learnt Yoga,
which will in no doubt help me with my dancing." She shared
many moments together with her host mother discussing yoga and dancing.
mother opened me to painting. I was taken to painting classes with
her. That was my first experience and I enjoyed it tremendously,"
too, living with her host family was a wonderful experience. "
I was lucky to stay with them and be able to learn what family life
in Holland was like. I was treated like one of their own."
stay, these youngsters visited many places. And they were fascinated
by that enduring symbol of Holland, the windmill. " We were
amazed at how it worked, and the whole idea behind it," says
Premila. "It was something which was made so long ago that
we were surprised that it was still used very effectively,"
she continues, while Thilanka half jokingly adds, "I am going
to make one in Sri Lanka".
we visited Naareden Fort, it felt like home, it was just like the
Galle Fort where I live, the only thing missing was the lighthouse,"
They all agree
that Holland is far more developed than Sri Lanka." Their way
of life is also very different from ours, they have more freedom.
In our culture, there are times we are a bit trapped, but that is
not necessarily bad," explains Thilanka.
and responsibility are two things that go together, like the two
sides of a coin," adds Roelof J. Munneke, Director, Netherlands-Sri
Lanka Foundation. "I am very happy about this whole programme
and the way they integrated," he adds.
really sad to leave, but it feels like that we now have a family
back in Holland. They have now become an important part of our lives,"
the four add.
new generation of catwalk queens
beauties such as Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss once dominated the
fashion scene, but now a new gang of girls are taking over as the
latest catwalk queens - and they mean business.
ice maidens with long, long legs, striking Slavic features, pouting
Bardot-like lips and laid-back attitudes are now flooding in from
The likes of
Karolina Kurkova, Colette Pechek-honova and Inna Zobova are now
staring out at you from advertising billboards and the covers of
Not only are
these girls gorgeous, they're building reputations in the fashion
world as being easy to get on with and, because of their backgrounds,
Editor Karen Buglass says: "I think one of the reasons the
East Europeans are so popular is that they're not just stunning,
but well-mannered, polite and willing to give their all. They also
seem very family-oriented and well brought up, so we never have
any tantrums or prima donnafits on fashion photo shoots. It's a
pleasure to work with them."
at UK agencies often unable to speak any English, except for the
'chin-up, chin-down' model language required for their photo shoots.
so many girls are arriving that we can pick and choose. Now we want
those who can speak English and have New York or Milan experience."
innocence in the Western world make Czechs, Slovaks and Croatians
all the more appealing.
by the amount of money they can earn for doing a job they enjoy.
The average monthly wage in Russia is £90, so at least £200
a day for a magazine fashion photo shoot is a sensational amount.
And if they
make it to the top of the modelling world and get to front a leading
advertising campaign, a top model can earn between £50,000
and £25,000 for just one contract.
are among those who are obviously keen on the East European girls.
Czech Eva Herzigova
was the first East European to be chosen to promote the uplifting
underwear. Her early '90s 'Hello boys' advert made the stunning
model, now 29, into a household name and fashion world celebrity
- not bad for the daughter of a coal miner.
spotted at a modelling audition at the age of 16, Eva had only ever
been to Bulgaria and on a camping holiday to the Baltic coast. In
1996, Eva was replaced as Wonderbra's front woman by Adriana Sklenarikova,
a 6ft-tall Slovakian medical student who'd won a modelling competition
says: "I've changed my life from black to white. There was
nothing like fashion in Slovakia. I'd like to keep working in this
amazing world after the end of my modelling career."
Now that Adriana
has moved on, Wonderbra has brought in a tall, leggy, blonde Russian
called Inna Zobova. The 26-year-old had already modelled for Mario
Testino and Armani and was picked from over 1,000 hopefuls to become
the new Wonderbra girl last month.
there were a few Eastern European models as far back as the '80s.
Paulina Porizkova was one of the first. The Czech was discovered
by chance in her home town and became the face of Estee Lauder.
She and Ukrainian-born model Milla Jovovich, who went on to become
a leading Hollywood actress, emerged as worldwide fashion icons
who inspired their compatriots back home.
As the Communist
regimes started to collapse, wannabe models from the former Czechoslovakia,
Russia, Ukraine and Croatia started setting their sights on an international
career in 1989, there was only one agency in Moscow - by the end
of the '90s there were more than 80.
models enter competitions to get spotted. One such hopeful was Slovenian
model Ana Colja, who has appeared in several Now fashion features.
says: "I got my break after coming third in a modelling competition
in Slovenia. That's when I started getting offers of work and it
went from there. I went to Milan and did some shows and now I'm
happy in London."
went to Las Vegas recently with Now, which was great. I love England.
I've only been here for three months, but I've been working nearly
every day. There's so much more work here than in Slovenia, which
is brilliant for me." - Donna Findlay