Last night, Tyra, Mr. and Ms. Jay, and 14 new top model wannabes returned in the premier of America’s Next Top Model cycle 14. Tyra repeatedly informed us that this season the stakes were higher, the prizes more fabulous, and the poses even more broken. She’s taking us high fashion.* So instead of getting the back cover of Seventeen, the winner will get the actual cover of Italian Vogue, plus a spread in another Vogue iteration. They highlighted the chi-chi designers and photographers who would be making appearances. In fact, the first segment was devoted entirely to selling the new and improved version of ANTM rather than on introducing the new cast. It was also only an hour unlike more recent seasons that had two hour premier – sometimes even smooshing in the make-overs.
What else is out?
The pretense of the “plus size” model was completely abandoned. Plus sized models who aren’t named Crystal Renn are not high fashion. All of the new recruits are very slim and very tall. They were grouped according to type – bravo for transparency on that one – blonds against blonds, quirky against quirky. The “sexy” category seemed to be the most awkward and amounted to being made up of those girls with larger lips and excellent bone structure unlike the “strong facial features” group who had excellent bones but smallish lip.
Also missing was some completely whacked out theme – space travel or whatever ditzy thing they could come up with. Tyra did not appear in some crazy costume. There was no time travel capsule. This made the usual freakout at Tyra’s appearance all that more awkward. The camp seems to be missing and it’s the camp that I so loved about ANTM. Unlike Project Runway‘s obession with “taste levels,” ANTM has always been marked by its tacky, over-the-top, kookiness. Once, when asked to come up with a name for herself, a contestant went with Hoolahay. For serious. Hoolahay. We have PR for our snooty fashion fix; we need random silliness and awkward Tyra costumes to keep our fashion realities balanced.
But, Tyra’s attempt to force fashion cred into the series could be interesting. Most of the former winners haven’t made names for themselves in the fashion industry, though some have continued on in reality tv. The most successful in the modeling industry are girls who didn’t win. Tyra apparently, very much wants to be on top. One might think then that she and the other producers might have gone for a different personality type. Though less time was devoted to the drama between the girls, there was still plenty of manufactured weirdness to be had. One girl wrote racist things in her diary. Another girl manipulated someone else into doing her gossipy work for her. Personalities clashed and heads waggled.
My early favorites are the curly top blond girl and the quirky one who dresses like Blossom. She’s the first person I’ve seen who can actually rock the 90s throwback. Let’s see what happens next week.
*Every mention of the word “fashion” in the post should be read in an deliberately horrible French accent while pulling a Tyra-inspired wonk face.