And the Winner is….!

“Floyd could imagine a dozen things that could go wrong; it was little consolation that it was always the thirteenth that actually happened.”
― Arthur C. Clarke, 2010: Odyssey Two

“And the winner is [insert the longest, most painfully suspenseful pause here]

…AVALON CHROME!”

Yes, dear readers, I won the pageant for the LUXE Paris Look of the Year and am now the official brand ambassador for haute couture clothing designer LUXE Paris!

There’s no way I can properly express the honour, gratitude and joy I feel to have won this title. And although I’m very excited to receive some incredible prizes, it’s the role of LUXE Paris’s Brand Ambassador that I covet most. Thank you to LUXE Paris’s co-owners Mika Palmyra and Parisian Skytower and to COO Julia Brand for providing this amazing opportunity. I’m really looking forward to working with all of you wonderful ladies.

The prizes were extremely generous. First I received a whopping $50,000 Lindens from LUXE Paris! I also received an absolutely stunning tiara from Zuri Jewelry, poses from ProPose, and an hour coaching with One-on-One Modeling Tutelage & Academy’s co-owner and ProPose owner, Ponchituti Boucher, avant-garde hair (x 4) from Bon Amour, L$10,000 worth of make-up from TONE 2, a L$4000 scholarship to In-Nova Models Training. I’ll be featured in such media as the SL Enquirer, (see article here), SL Confidencial, Best of SL Magazine and L’Amour Diversity (valued at L$25,000). I’ve also been given the honour of a VIP invitation form the prestigious One-on-One modelling agency. And to top it all off, as Brand Ambassador, I’ll be able to shop for free at LUXE Paris for the year of my reign (a L$30,000 value). Thank you so much to our wonderful sponsors and to LUXE Paris for your generosity.

I’d like to congratulate the inspiringly beautiful and talented first runner Charlotte Chisolm and the absolutely stunning second runner up, Aealla Illyar. You ladies rocked that runway!

Pictured from left to right are LUXE Paris LOTY First Runner Up, Charlotte Chisolm, LOTY winner Avalon Chrome and Second Runner Up Aealla Illyar. (Photo by Totes Cos Inaka)

Read the article on all winners and contestants on the LUXE Paris website. See the video of the entire pageant.

My Intention

Before I begin to tell you about my personal experience,  I want to say that I’m in full-out gratitude mode and am by no means wishing things went any differently than they did. My hope is that once you’ve heard my story, you’re inspired to endure and conquer challenges in spite of what life throws at you, especially during these unprecedented times.  So for those who are curious about SL modelling and pageants, allow me to pull back the curtain and give you a glimpse of what it was like for me.

My Story

I would love to tell you that as I stood victorious at center stage in front of the applauding crowd, I was fully composed and unsurprised. But nothing could be further from the truth. I was in shock.

It wasn’t like I didn’t work hard to prepare for this pageant. In hindsight, I don’t think I could have been more prepared. You see, for the past month or so, I thought of little else other than this competition. The hyper-focused perfectionist in me agonized over every detail, driving me to work harder at this than anything I’ve ever done in SL. And then to top it all off, I blogged about the whole thing.

No. The reason I was so surprised was that even after all my hard work in putting my absolute best foot forward, Murphy and his darn law showed up and totally messed with me. It was as if he was taunting me by asking, “How badly do you really want this, huh?” As a result, I thought I’d blown it.

Another Avalon Analogy

And here’s why. Imagine for a moment that you’re a race car driver who’s preparing for an upcoming race that has the potential to be life-changing. You spend countless hours and funds to make sure your machine is beautiful and performing perfectly, extensively rebuilding it from the inside out. It purrs like a kitten and looks great with its new paint job. You run various stress tests on it to ensure optimal performance even in the worst-case scenario. Meanwhile, you practice over and over, as you perfect corners, timing and your speed around the track.

Finally, the night before the race you take one last look under the hood followed by a final lap around the track. You’re confident and proud you’ve done absolutely everything you possibly can to perform well.

But Then Disaster Strikes

The next morning, an hour before you’re to arrive at the track, you try to start your car but it’s DEAD. In a panic, you try everything you know to get it running again. As you fruitlessly research solutions you feel the only thing racing right now is your heart. To your horror, despite your best, albeit frenzied efforts, nothing that should work does.

Finally, as the clock ticks closer to the waving of the flag on the track, you realize you have no choice but to use another car. Perhaps the car looks similar on the outside, but as you sit in the driver’s seat, a sense of horror creeps in – it looks completely different! The steering wheel’s on the other side and all the settings, gadgets and indicators are in different places or don’t exist at all. You take the car for a quick spin around the parking lot and realize it lags when you step on the gas and the steering is at best, awkward. There’s a tight knot in your gut as you realize there’s no time for a practice lap, the race has begun.

It’s All About the Viewer

I had that very feeling of panic as I waited to step onto the runway. The reality is that Firestorm, the viewer I’ve used exclusively for almost my entire SL experience, lost three-quarters of my inventory that morning. So all of my outfits for the pageant were – gone!  Although this is a common issue and one I’ve successfully handled before, there would be no repairing it this time. Instead, the only solution in such little time was to use the Second Life viewer, which was completely foreign to me. As a result, I felt my runway performance was off. I lag-walked all over the runway, my poses got stuck and briefly caused me to appear frozen and then I panicked and ran through them too quickly.

As I walked off the runway, I struggled with feeling defeated and embarrassed. I was sure that I must have looked unprofessional and had just voided all my diligence, hard work and agonizingly careful preparation. But instead of spiralling down that nasty little rabbit hole of self-defeating thoughts, I focused on not letting it get to me. I chose to keep my chin up while remaining optimistic and positive. Besides I’d already considered that if I didn’t win, I’d be ready to celebrate with the winner and the rest of the contestants. And the reality was that I’d made it much further than anticipated in this pageant. I was proud to just be there and had already gained so much that I felt like a winner.

*Special note: As it turned out, I wouldn’t get the Firestorm viewer fixed until several days later. The problem was solved by copying an inventory file from the Second Life cache folder and replacing it with the one in the Firestorm inventory cache folder.

Outfit One: Theme – Shopping on the Promenade de la Croisette in Cannes, France.

Photo courtesy of LUXE Paris

A Ballet of Polka Dots

This sassy little number catches the eye with its happy polka dots contrasted by gold accents and a pop of red. The look was created by combining two LUXE Paris outfits: the dress from the LARIMAR set and the decorative sash and arm-wrap from the FABULOUS gown set. Standing on point in her edgy ballet heels, I was ready to strike a pose for the paparazzi as I shopped on the Promenade for my LUXE Paris Met Gala gown.

The Second Walk

I’ll admit it went a little better. I felt more confident and my movements were a little less laggy and I went more slowly with my poses. Although I still felt that overall I’d missed an opportunity to present myself the best way I could, I left the runway feeling proud that I’d at least made it to this competition.

Outfit Two: Theme – A night at the Met Gala

Photo courtesy of LUXE Paris

The Divine Feminine

I was inspired by the regal feminity of this gown so I created this beautiful look to celebrate the joy of femininity. I styled this stunning peach and gold AMARYLLIS gown from LUXE Paris to honour its elegance while representing the artistic opulence that is the Met Gala. The chiffon train, which pours out of a golden rose blossom, is created from the veils and rose accessory of the KRYSTELLE bridal gown by LUXE Paris. The regal golden fans feature decorative birds to symbolize hope for mankind during these challenging times and the promise of a bright, new future.

The Finale: AKA: The Moment Avalon had To Pick Herself Up Off of the Floor

So when they announced me as the winner (still pinching myself by the way), it was all I could do to think straight as I attempted to control my shaking hands through this hypnagogic moment. I managed to navigate myself to center stage and then carefully removed my hair garments without removing my hair too – a huge accomplishment in my state. Then I gave my acceptance speech, buying a little time while I tried to find where that darn SL viewer put the tiara I’d just received. It may have only been a few minutes, but it felt like I stood there for an hour before I got that beautiful tiara on! It was all nerve-wracking and surreal, yet so incredibly wonderful.

Meanwhile, my RL husband heard me shrieking and crying and came running in the room to see where the fire was. He quickly became quite alarmed by the spectacle of me standing in front of my computer shaking so hard that I was barely able to stand, let alone type. He knew I was in this competition, but he had no idea how important it was to me or that winning would trigger such an extreme response. He hugged me and tried to calm me down, while I was pushing him away sobbing, “Let me go, they’re waiting for me to take center stage!”

Later as he brought me a celebratory glass of wine, he asked cheekily, “Is that how I should expect you to react if we win the lottery?” To that, I responded as I took a long, well-earned sip of wine, “Well, more like if we win the Indianapolis 500, Honey”. 

The After Party

Once the congratulatory messages and returning thank-you’s had been sent and the photos were taken, I was able to join the after-party celebration created in not only my honour but for all the contestants and event organizers. It was only then that I was finally able to catch my breath and take it all in. Although it took me a few minutes to find where the music audio settings in the SL viewer were (grrr…), I was able to dance with many of the contestants to the great music played by DJ LadyD Beauregard. Mika and Parisian who had spent two weeks building the beautiful sim for the pageant had turned the lovely Judge’s Luncheon venue into a party area and it was lovely! It was a fantastic close to a phenomenal event.

In Reflection

The LUXE Paris Look of the Year competition is an equal-opportunity pageant, open to anyone who ‘s interested in becoming the next face of LUXE Paris. Since LUXE Paris is a feminine haute couture line of clothing, any female Second Life residents are welcome to enter: from seasoned professional models, to those who are rusty (like I was) or to those who’ve never before stepped foot on a runway.

In spite of the hard work, the trouble with my viewer and all the missteps (such as the dips in the center pool as I lagged off the runway during practices), the whole experience was absolutely worth it. There’s real value in stepping out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself. You become a better version of yourself in spite of (or maybe because of) the obstacles you face. I learned so much throughout this pageant, made some great new friends and I’m proud of the success I’m experiencing as a result of my endurance, tenacity and creativity.

A Special Thank You

I’d like to thank LUXE Paris’s COO Julia Brand who was the Artistic Director for the pageant. She tirelessly worked to prepare us for walking the runway in spite of her RL challenges. She was the “mom” of the rehearsals who coordinated the progress of the challenges and ensured we all had the opportunity to shine. And thanks to Viana Oaks (Curiosse), the finalist’s coordinator who was there for us when we needed her the most. I’d also like to thank advisor Ponchituti Boucher who’s incredible expertise helped things run smoothly. She also provided her wealth of expertise to contestants who were wanting to become more polished. Also a special thank you to our voice host Diana Balhaus who also provided LUXE Paris with her wisdom and experience throughout the pageants.  Thank you also to Tenan Nox, public chat host and Coco St. George the judge’s host. All of you made this a truly remarkable and memorable event and I’m so very grateful to you all.

In Closing

An acknowledgement of those where supported me. The last part of my acceptance speech sums up my appreciation for all the support I was given:

“…I’d like to thank those of you who have encouraged and supported me through this process. You have so generously shared your wisdom and as a result, I’ve grown from learning from the best. And a special shout out to Belle Roussel for encouraging me to enter this wonderful pageant in the first place. Had it not been for your faith, encouragement and confidence in me,  I wouldn’t have had the determination to enter this pageant and succeed.”

So if you’ve ever wondered if just maybe you have what it takes to make your dreams come true, I strongly encourage you to challenge yourself – leap first and look later.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish you all health and happiness. Thank you!

                       Details

Outfit One:

Dress: Larimar by LUXE Paris

Wrap and bow:  “Fabulous” gown by LUXE Paris

Necklace: Chop Zuey Matangi Rishi Necklaces A1, A3 and B3 (Texture-changing)

Hair: Doux – Ariana

Gloves: {AS} Avante Garde Bento Gloves

Shoes: N-Core Ballet

Leggings: Spanx Whites & Blacks

Eyes: AviGlam – Ardor aqua

Mesh Bow Accessory (full perm): MW Boa

Outfit Two:

Gown:

LUXE Paris AMARYLLIS Gown

Train: Created from the veil of the KRYSTELLE bridal gown by LUXE Paris

Hair: DOUX – Sonya Hairstyle

Shoes: N-Core JADA

Rings: Astralia – Double finger diamond ring

Back and head decorative pieces: SAS – Ziegfeld Gold Headpiece

Decorative Birds: Bauhaus Movement – Angelica Bird // Antique headpiece

Necklace: Chop Zuey: Kamalika texture changing set

Nails: OeC Metallic

Glitter Freckles: Izzie’s

Mesh Body: Maitreya Lara

Shape: Layla by Wren’s Nest

Photography HUD: LUMIPro18

Model/Photographer: Avalon Chrome

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