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‘America’s Next Top Model’ recap: No more fun and games

October 20, 2010 |  9:35 pm

TM1507_08_LIZ_REV1It’s as solid a rule for reality television as it was for Newton: What goes up must come down. The front-runner in the first half of a "Top Model" cycle rarely goes on to nab the trophy. No matter how promising you are at the beginning, someone can always emerge from the middle of the pack and dazzle the judges with one amazing photo shoot. Even Ann -- she of the five-week photo streak -- had to fall sooner or later. And this week, fall she did, though not as far as some of her housemates would have liked.

It all started with a trip to the Grammy Museum. Team Tyra, competing for the illustrious slot of the girl everyone ignores when they hand over that gramophone to Kanye, had to split up into twos and pick out a look that they would wear as an award presenter. But, as always, there’s a bit of a switcheroo: Each member of the duo would choose the other one's clothes. It seemed like an opportune moment for some Pyrrhic sabotage, but none of the models went that route -- or at least, no one admitted it. I felt bad for Chelsey -- it was hard enough to find a dress for the gigantically tall and freakishly thin Ann, and then Ann got her what looked like a black velvet toga. In a size 12. 

Chelsey chose a sort of goth royalty look for Ann, who impressed the judges but was eliminated for being so tall that she’d loom over many of the award recipients. There wasn’t anything too disastrous sartorially (unless you count Chris’ stripper dress). Liz and Kayla -- black sequin pants and short silver dress, respectively -- won Jay Manuel’s approval. Kayla earned the spot as a Grammy girl because the judge thought Liz would be too starstruck -- pretty unfair criteria, really, considering the torrent of tears Kayla produced after that news -- and then Liz proceeded to go back to the house and get totally faced on white wine. Did I mention that I like Liz? She seems like the only model in the house entertaining enough to end up on "The Real World" one day. 

The most interesting photo shoots are when the girls have to radically leave their comfort zones, not through bungee jumping or slam-dancing, but through impersonating other people. In this one, the ladies had to dress up like famous fashion designers and pose with another model swathed in said designer’s clothing. This was particularly fun because Tyra et al. must actually know many of the designers personally -- it was a little bit like having an office party where everyone impersonates each other. 

Watching the models who had to do male designers was the most interesting part of the shoot -- most were not great Drag Kings, but Liz, as John Galliano, totally nailed it. She looked like a combination of  Brett Michaels and the Mad Hatter. Ann also was a convincing Alexander Wang -- she caught the modest shoulder slump and slight smirk. Chris was an adorable Betsey Johnson, and Kayla was a fairly passable Vivienne Westwood, though I felt like she was channeling Bette Midler in "Hocus Pocus."

At panel, Tyra gave the best photo to Liz, who accepted it far less gracefully than Ann has. Kayla’s picture came in next, followed by Ann -- not exactly last, but a fair drop from first to third. The bottom two were Kendal, who played Vera Wang, and Esther, who had Christophe Decardin. Both of them had fairly tough characters to play. I actually thought that Jane as Marc Jacobs was much worse than Esther’s Decardin, and Vera Wang doesn’t have any of the obvious personality quirks to exploit like Johnson or Westwood. (By the way, how great was it when Nigel advised Jane that to look like Jacobs she should be "a little bit more broken"?). Esther got the "is she a model?" question, which is roughly equivalent to Nina Garcia questioning your taste level on "Project Runway": It usually means you’re not long for this competition. After a rambling metaphor about a shaky colt who was prized only for its potential, Tyra cut a teary Kendall.  I’m not sure that I agree with the judges’ decision: I would have kept Kendall and kicked out Jane. I think it's only a matter of challenges with that one. What do you think?

Tyra weave watch: Same old, same old. Come on Tyra! Lose the huge curly mass/one-shouldered dress look!

Best Tyra quote of the evening: On Kendall: "My fear is that you are the noun and not the verb. You are a model but you’re not modeling." Deep, no?

Quick thoughts:
--Seriously, was Andre Leon Talley wearing that brown curtain thing again? What is up?

--Best anecdote of the evening: Tyra’s little backstage aside that when she first met Nigel, she had the hots for him. Was it just me, or did Nigel look a little sad to be stuck in the friend zone now?

--How totally adorable was that photographer? I kept getting distracted by his commentary. 

-- Margaret Eby

Photo: Liz dressed as John Galliano

Credit: Francesco Carrozzini /Pottle Productions Inc.