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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pageant Finds New Face for Cosmo

For Alexandra Yegorova, Wednesday night was probably the end of her career as a musician. Overnight, she became a model -- by winning the L'Oreal and Cosmopolitan model contest held this week at the National Hotel.

"I honestly did not think I could ever win," said Yegorova, a flute player, as she posed for photographers. Still wearing the little white Armani suit assigned to her for the competition, she stood perplexed on the empty stage in front of the cameras. At a loss for natural gestures, the newborn model gazed around, then flashed a radiant smile and began to flirtatiously sniff her flowers.

As winner of the competition, Yegorova, 20, will model for L'Oreal. Red Stars, one of Russia's biggest modeling agencies, has also offered her a contract.

Yegorova's road to the runway began when she answered an announcement in the March issue of the Russian edition of Cosmopolitan, which solicited female competitors "under 24 and over 176 cm." The magazine received over 1,000 applications, said Ellen Verbeek, co-editor in chief. Eighty women made it to the first round of the contest, she added. On Wednesday night, the jury of five were to decide which of the 14 finalists would make the best model.

In the end, inexperience won out. "Alexandra has a fresh face," said Yelena Myasnikova, Cosmopolitan's other editor in chief and a member of the contest jury. "It is perfect for modeling as it would look different under various types of makeup." She said that, unlike a regular beauty pageant in which personality and talent are also considered, facial features played the top role in the L'Oreal-sponsored event.

But the women were also judged on their silhouettes. The final round consisted of two parts, featuring the hopefuls first in bathing suits and then in the outfits from the Emporio Armani spring-summer 1995 collection. Designed in black-and-white silky fabrics, the collection presented long, slim slip dresses along with three-piece suits consisting of a small tank top, a short jacket and a mini wrap-around skirt.

As the young women paraded out and did their best pirouettes before the approximately 150 select guests, presenter Krylov held forth with commentary that was at times less than graceful.

Making small talk with each finalist, Krylov suddenly charged one of the youngest competitors with the question: "How do you feel about the commonly known fact that to make their way to the top, models have to sleep with their promoters?"

Marina Goncharova, 17, answered, "A model must know what she's worth and show herself from the best angle." Goncharova, who bore the unlucky number 13, had just graduated from high school. Krylov occasionally offered editorial comment on the contestants, at one point calling Natalya Mikhailova, 19, a Pedagogical Institute student from St.Petersburg a "reasonable girl."

Mikhailova split the third prize of a romantic dinner at the Maxim restaurant -- soon to open at the National -- with Yaroslavna Nozdrina, 20, who combines modeling with her job as a medical nurse in her hometown of Nizhny Novgorod.

Margarita Komarova, 23, came in second and received a weekend for two at the Radisson Lazurnaya Hotel in Sochi, while the victor Yegorova won a trip to Paris "with all the city's sights, L'Oreal laboratories and all other pleasures," as Krylov put it.

"I have always wanted to become a model," Yegorova said. "If the trip is for two, I will bring my identical twin sister Lida."

Olga Bryzgalova, 23, a dancer in the popular folk-dance ensemble, Beryozka, received a special prize -- the opportunity to model for Cosmo.

The sponsors said all 14 finalists will be introduced to Red Stars. Each finalist will also receive a year's worth of L'Oreal cosmetic products.