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Diversity Seeking Agency

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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DERELICTE Pilati

Stefano Pilati may not be too hot on non-Caucasian models, but Elite, the agency behind faces like Claudia Schiffer and Yasmin Le Bon, has hit up the slums of suburban Paris, the site of volatile rioting in November 2005, in search of the "next Naomi" Campbell.

The push to get more diversity on the catwalk may have been an admirable one, but Alain Attia, president of the Elite International competition, was lost in translation when he said of the casting call, "We're gearing ourselves for girls with a half-caste physique." Half-caste?

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Ultimately, around half of Attia's picks after a round of beauty-hunting in the poor banlieue of Thiais were African in origin, although the competition, which included a spin on a temporary catwalk, did alienate some of the would-be mannequins, who sniped that some underprivileged blondes also made the cut.

Photo: Getty Images

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