Hong Kong modelling contest that was ‘chance in a million’, with the winner guaranteed a job, free clothes and flights
- In 1966, Australian model-turned-businesswoman June Dally-Watkins announced she would turn one underprivileged Hong Kong woman into a top-flight model
- Multiple big-name sponsors promised that the winner would not need to spend a penny for her potential modelling career
“A Hong Kong girl will be given a chance of climbing to success on the rungs of a ladder to a top-flight modelling career,” the South China Morning Post reported on September 4, 1966.
Dally-Watkins – who had, in 1950, set up a finishing school in Australia bearing her name – said the girl would be personally groomed by her to be a model.
“I want a girl from an underprivileged area. Some girl who would never have the chance of such a career without help. She should be a girl of character – perhaps someone already serving with one of the voluntary auxiliaries or interested in youth work,” Dally-Watkins said.
Multiple big-name sponsors promised that the young woman chosen would not need to spend a penny for her potential modelling career.
“It’s a chance in a million,” a Post article mused on September 23, in reference to the offer made by Dally-Watkins. “The offer is open to girls, both single and married, until October 4. Forms are available at Revlon counters.”
On October 4, Dally-Watkins returned to Hong Kong as promised, “to present fashions from Australia”, according to a Post report published the next day.
Finally, on October 12, the winner was announced. “Luck holds for shy H.K. girl,” a Post headline said the next day. Elly Lee Oi-lin, who lived near the YWCA children’s nursery in Yau Yat Tsuen in central Kowloon, had “won the June Dally-Watkins Modelling Scholarship Award given in conjunction with the show and will fly to Sydney early next year”.