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Vogue Italia deal gives 'America's Next Top Model' new cred in fashion industry

May 21, 2010 | 12:09 pm

Top model
By television standards, “America’s Next Top Model” is getting a bit long in the tooth, having just concluded its 14th cycle on the air. But Tyra Banks’ supermodel competition got a rejuvenating jolt with the news this week that the stakes will be upped dramatically next season. Instead of competing for a cover and spread in Seventeen magazine, the next batch of contestants will be vying for the cover of Vogue Italia, considered the most prestigious magazine in the fashion industry.

“Tyra really wanted to take the series to sort of another level,” explained Dawn Ostroff, the CW’s president of entertainment, after announcing the change Thursday at the network’s upfront presentation at Madison Square Garden. “When Andre Leon Talley, who is editor at large at Vogue, came on board, she wanted to really make these models high-fashion models. And high fashion, if you are in the fashion business, is Italian Vogue. Anybody who is in Italian Vogue literally makes it in the fashion business, so this is a really big step for the show.”

Producers of the series weren’t available Friday to explain how the deal was brokered, but it’s a safe bet that Talley, who joined the show this season as a new judge, played a role.

“We’ve got the full support of the fashion industry, so we’re really legitimizing this competition,” “Top Model” photo director Jay Manuel told WPIX Friday. “This is huge.”

The change is a blow to Seventeen, but editor in chief Ann Shoket described it as a mutual breakup. “For the last 4 years and 7 cycles, 'ANTM' has been a fantastic friend (with benefits!) but we both thought it was time we started seeing other people,” Shoket said in a statement, adding: “Seventeen magazine and 'ANTM' had a very strong partnership for so long because our 13 million readers are their core audience. But like in any relationship both partners need to evolve and keep growing to keep your brand vital.”

Fashion-industry watchers immediately cast the switch as a boost in credibility for the show, whose past winners have not exactly gone on to be supermodels.

“All we can say is: Wowwowweewa!?*@&#$*@#,” exclaimed the Fashionista blog. “It indicates that the contestants will prove a bit more ‘polished’ next year.”

“Vogue Italia is known in the industry for their racy photo shoots and high fashion edginess — this could very well be the shot of cred ANTM needs to be taken seriously,” noted Styleite. “Let’s just hope that next season’s models are up to the task.”

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the change will matter to the show’s young female viewers, who are more likely to subscribe to Seventeen than Vogue Italia.

-- Matea Gold (Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mateagold.)

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Photo: Andre Leon Talley and Tyra Banks. Credit: The CW

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