'America's Next Top Model' finale: Queen or courtesan?
Alexandra, Angelea, Krista and Raina are the last four girls standing, and each feels like they have something to prove. Alexandra represents for all the plus-size women out there. Angelea comes from a rough neighborhood. Krista is holding it down for the chocolate-skinned women, as she calls it, who don’t feel beautiful. And Raina feels she has come a long way from the girl who had been made fun of for being gangly and having thick eyebrows.
Enter Andre Leon Talley, who arrives with flowers to chat with the women about where he came from. He went to New York City with very little confidence, no money and apparently he was Andy Warhol’s indentured servant. But, he went from that to king of the world as the editor at large at Vogue. Moral of the story? You better work.
The women get a Tyra-mail and they’re asked to pack an overnight bag. Once on a plane, Mr. and Miss J. arrive and tell them they're going right into a runway challenge on board the plane. The women have to walk down the aisle and throw some personality in there. Alexandra thinks she has it in the bag, except she's more a local train than an express with way too many stops along her walk. She is flirting, blowing kisses, showing the passengers where the emergency exits are, putting seats in their upright position and serving drinks. Angelea can only find one high heel, so she's at a disadvantage and her stroll down the aisle is very much like the club walk she demonstrated during elimination a few weeks back (and it didn’t work for her then either). According to Miss J., Raina walks like a linebacker. Krista takes that contest easily as she goes into autopilot fierceness.
A face only a fashionista could love
When the women arrive at their destination, they find out they will be doing a shoot in Queensland, which the J.’s claim got its name because the view is worthy of queens. That’s “Top Model’s” factoid. Wikipedia says it is named that in honor of Queen Victoria when the British annexed the land. But who cares about history? This is a modeling competition, not "Jeopardy."
In this shoot, the women are dressed in period wear with huge wigs and extreme makeup. I thought they looked lovely, but the goal of the shoot was to portray “ugly-pretty.” Krista rocks it with her body angles, but Jay is still unsure whether she knows what to do with her face. Alexandra struggles with being ugly rather than pretty. Angelea just keeps giving the same poses and she admits that Jay barking orders is not helping her out. And Raina also can’t seem to find the ugly.
Two of you have to go
In the elimination, Krista moves on easily. It's down to three. Alexandra’s shot is pretty but not fashion-forward enough. Angelea splits the panel. Mr. Jay thinks she didn’t get his creative, but Tyra likes it, saying Angelea looks like a ghost. My favorite shot was Raina’s. Her eyes look to the side like someone is approaching whom she doesn't want to see. In the end, Raina moves on.
Alexandra is disappointed, but she says she made it far and believes she’ll have a strong career as a model. My girl Angelea? She's too much. She says she still thinks she’s “America’s Next Top Model” even without winning. Go ahead, Angelea! Thank you for the memories!
Let’s get the helicopter out of here
Back at the house, Raina admits that she knows Krista doesn’t like her. “If something is negative,” she says, “I make it a positive. That makes some people angry.” Like this person, Raina?
The women get Tyra-mail telling them to pack another overnight bag. Soon, they board a helicopter, which drops them by a house on a cliff. Inside, a handsome young man welcomes them and gives them a drink. As soon as the women get their cups to their lips, Miss J. arrives to drop their scripts off for their Cover Girl commercial. Dang, they are barely able to sit down and get a drink before they have to start memorizing lines. Raina is totally confident about the lines and the commercial. She thinks her fresh and youthful look is way more Cover Girl than Krista’s fierce, edgy look. Krista just doesn’t want to resort to cue cards, and she gets right to memorizing. How annoying is Raina when she chirps, “I already know my first line.” Ugh.
The next day, the women go right into shooting their Cover Girl commercial and print shot. Krista is up first and guess what? She can’t remember her lines! Cue-card fear is realized. Sorry, girl. Then Raina gets her turn, and she starts off shaky. It seems she not only has memorized her lines, but she's choreographed movements too. The problem is that it’s all too much for her to handle at once and she’s coming off mechanical. A few takes later, Mr. Jay has talked her out of thinking about the choreography and just delivering the lines.
In the photo shoot, Raina definitely comes off more Cover Girl than Krista. Krista just has a very hard look to her, but then her whole face picks up when she smiles. Yet, the photographer says she has a hard time finding a medium between the two.
The women then go into their Seventeen cover shoot. What, no Gilles Bensimon? Times are harsh at the “Top Model” production offices. Nigel steps up to the plate, though. After all, he’s already there. I thought both women came off very young and fun. Krista pulls out her fake ponytail, so she's feelin’ herself, as Angelea would say.
Stomp the competition out
It’s time for the walk-off. In another recession-time move, Alasia, Alexandra, Angelea and Jessica show up. What? Aren’t you supposed to have packed your bags and returned home? Uh-uh. Models are expensive, thought Tyra. Keep those girls here, but hide them until we need them again. I love how we just watched Alexandra and Angelea pack their bags and walk into an elevator, so they can go one floor down and stay in Jessica and Alasia’s room.
Tyra does part with some cash, though. Nicole, last cycle’s winner, Raina’s dad and Krista’s mom and stepfather are all flown in for the finale. Tyra even takes family portraits for Raina and Krista (which can be seen only at Tyra’s website. Shameless plug).
In the Anna Sui show, the women have to walk playfully. I love how Tyra keeps declaring this is a first for “Top Model” as if the women are breaking some new ground by walking happily in the final show. Nice try, Ty Ty. It’s not like they’re walking barefoot across broken glass.
Still, this is a challenge for both Raina and Krista’s skills. Raina has young and playful down, but the girl can’t walk. Krista has the fiercest walk of the bunch, but fierce is not on the menu today. In the end, Raina does as expected. Krista, though, pulls out some sunshine, maybe a bit much at times, but she summons it up."America's Next Top Model" is...
So, here’s how I see it. Raina won the Cover Girl shoot. They tied on the Seventeen shoot. And I believe Krista edged out Raina on the runway walk.
The judges thought that Krista had more international appeal and that she knew how to model her body. Andre said Raina would do well in English-speaking markets, while Miss J. said she’d be great for face and beauty shoots but not for editorials and runway shows. So, who wins? Krista, with her regal style, or the flirty Raina, who has been compared with a courtesan in pictures?The woman with international appeal and a fierce runway walk, of course. Miss Krista will go on to show that chocolate-skinned girls are beautiful too.
Was Krista your choice for “America’s Next Top Model”?
Thursday: I’m interviewing Krista. If you have questions for her, please leave them in the comments section below.
-- Jethro Nededogtwitter.com/TheRealJethro