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America's Next Top Model: “Jez Smith”

Illustration for article titled iAmericas Next Top Model/i: “Jez Smith”
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The episode before the season finale of America’s Next Top Model is one of the low points in the season. There’s another more elimination before the final walk-off, but the choice is a fairly uninteresting one. Plus, the judges have a tendency to make it a bye week for the remaining three, sapping the tension at the last minute. This week’s episode could have been worse—just check out last cycle’s penultimate installment if you don’t believe me—but it was a definite letdown from last week’s drama-packed surprise double elimination.

There are no sharp rivalries left in the bunch now that Eboni’s gone, so Sophie, Annaliese, and Laura mostly eye each other nervously. There’s a lot of confessional footage about each girl’s insecurities. Thankfully, the totally bogus “Laura is a sex fiend” plot seems to be mostly gone, though Annaliese points to Laura’s (healthy seeming, not outrageous) libido as a reason that she might not be an ideal role model. But, please. No one really wants an ANTM saint.


It’s go-see time again, for the third time this season. There’s not much suspense in the challenge. After Toronto and the Dorchester Challenge, we already know how the ladies test in the real world outside of Tyra-land. Models orienteering and missing their deadline must have lost its luster this cycle. Instead of the usual “dropping you off with a compass and a map” situation, Kelly Cutrone provides each of the ladies with a male model that doubles as a guide and translator to help them get around Hong Kong. There’s also a hard, cash bonus prize: Every designer booked means HK$1,000 for the contestant. It sounds impressive, until you realize that the conversion rate makes it roughly $125. The motivation of extra cash pushes the ladies, but it wasn’t enough to make their journeys interesting to watch.  Without the hysterics over cardinal directions, go-sees just aren’t as much fun. Each girl makes it to all four auditions, and none of them struggles with the three-hour time limit.

Of the four designers they ran around to, by far the most fun was the incredibly flamboyant Gregory Derham, one of Hong Kong’s top drag designers. Sophie strutted in a gilded Marie Antoinette costume, while Annaliese got a Josephine Baker-inspired outfit, complete with a banana headpiece. Kelly Cutrone meets the three model-kateers on a junk boat because, who knows. To no one’s surprise, Sophie kills the challenge, as she did the past two go-see rounds, booking all four designers. Annaliese grabs three with her infectious personality, and Laura gets two. She’s hampered because of her walk, which is distressingly bad. But Laura’s a serious contender for the ANTM crown if she gets her catwalk in line. As Annaliese observes, “She is American, so that helps.”


Thank the ANTM gods that the photo shoot doesn’t involve the girls mixing their own perfume scents again. Instead, they pose for the “Dream Come True” fragrance advertisement by pretending to be tiny, tiny princesses trapped inside of perfume bottles. Classy! If there was any doubt that ANTM has shifted from its haute aspirations into a catchall for commercial success, it’s in the demographic for the perfume. Mr. Jay instructs the girls to look “youthful” because they’re selling something to 18-year-olds. Oh, and next week’s fashion runway? Instead of working outfits from Diana von Furstenberg or Vera Wang, they’ll be walking for Forever 21.

Laura’s uncharacteristically nervous in this photo shoot. You can put her on top of a building in the middle of a hailstorm without her tearing up, but asking her to be a Barbie in a bottle is plain uncomfortable. “I used to burn the heads off my Barbie dolls,” she explains. Sophie is completely in her element, fluttering her lashes and giggling. Annaliese handles sparkle better than Laura, but her photographs turn out fairly weak. No doubt that she’d be a fan favorite, if such a category existed, but the judges aren’t totally convinced. Their criticism of Annaliese seems contradictory, though. Commercial is exactly what they want. I would put Annaliese in front of a camera—or microphone, or perfume bottle—much faster than either Sophie or Laura.


But in an Americans vs. British season, it would be really surprising not to have a single American at the end. Annaliese gets axed, despite Cutrone’s grudging respect for her this week. Now it’s just blondes in the finale. At least in terms of their outfits at panel, it’s a little like an Axl Rose look-alike getting into a walk-off with a Dusty Springfield impersonator. If only Tyra could be responsible for all international diplomatic efforts.

Stray observations:

  • The models finally dropped those flag t-shirts at panel! Hallelujah!
  • Was Tyra doing a Superstar armpit-smelling impersonation for a minute there?
  • Laura’s photo made it look like she was being abducted b a spaceship full of frilly aliens.
  • Two bald white men at the judges’ table means that Tyra finally got to call upon her “twins.”
  • What is with Laura’s sudden pirate tendencies?

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