THE world's next super model could come from China, says Hong Kong fashion designer Flora Cheong-Leen. Ms Cheong-Leen is now putting 36 mainland catwalk hopefuls through their paces for China's first national model competition to be held in the city of Dalian. Also in the running are two models from both Hong Kong and Taiwan. The winner of the competition will receive cash, a car, lucrative modelling contracts and the prestige of being voted the best by a panel of international judges. The idea of the model competition came from the local Dalian Government, which will stage its fifth annual International Fashion Festival from September 20. Dalian authorities asked Ms Cheong-Leen to help stage the event which, at a cost of about $4 million, is the most ambitious show held in China. Ms Cheong-Leen began travelling to China's major cities in April and spent four months hand-picking the 36 Chinese finalists, who flocked to Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Dalian and Tianjin for the contests. And the former model and ballet dancer believes these fresh faces of the mainland could outshine not only their Hong Kong counterparts, but even the international models. ''These girls have great potential - they could be the best in the world,'' said Ms Cheong-Leen, who also believes they are perfect for the new fashion look. ''The sexy, blond image has come to an end - the new season's look is buttoned up and sleek. Red lips and big hair are out. It's so easy to find girls here with porcelain complexions and great figures who are willing to learn and they are picking it up in seconds.'' The two Hong Kong models who were selected to compete - Hilda Ma Hiu-hung, 21, and Eunice Chan Po-fun, 19 - have also been impressed by their mainland counterparts. ''They all have great long legs and good figures and they all have different characters and characteristics because they come from so many different places,'' said Hilda, who has been modelling in Hong Kong for a year. Of the field of 40, 24 will be selected for the semi-finals to be held tomorrow. The field will be whittled down again for the finals on Monday.