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‘America’s Next Top Model’ recap: Tyra’s Italian job

November 3, 2010 |  9:34 pm


And now it’s time for the international portion of "Top Model." You know, the part where Tyra jets the last handful of wannabes to exotic locations so that the elimination process can get ever more tortuous and the challenges have that added zing of translation error? That’s the one. On this week’s episode, the ladies flew to Italy after a somewhat transparent fake-out by Tyra, who appeared “at the site of the next shoot” — a canal — in a Venetian gondola. It was the wrong Venice, get it? Must have made a wrong turn somewhere in, um, Nebraska?

Shenanigans notwithstanding, the models were soon racing around the canals of Venice in a water taxi and lolling around in a swank hotel suite, a scene made slightly less glamorous when some intrepid seagulls poop-bombed the girls on the balcony. No matter! For it was on to the photo shoot.

The theme of this week’s shoot was “steampunk on a boat,” or so it would seem from the styling, which was meant to be very Marie Antoinette, but ended up looking more like the Sofia Coppola version. Split into teams of three, the girls had to pile into a gondola and pretend to be fawning over Casanova, played by a super-dashing male model. (Quoth Chris: “Mama wouldn’t mind be bringing him home, honey.”). It ended up being a battle of models vs. heatstroke, fighting to keep smiling with their eyes while sweating under long-sleeved 17th century garb. 

In the confessionals, Chelsey’s claws began coming out. She ragged on Liz for being a whiner and criticized Chris for being too commercial. She also laid it on thick with the last-chance-I’ll-have-at-this shtick: “I’m almost 23,” she said, “I’m the oldest girl here.” You could see how it might make you a tad bitter. 

After the shoot, the girls loaded up on the Top Model bus—Euro version!—and headed off to Milan to visit the house of Missoni. Liz was confused about where they were going (she apparently heard “Mulan,” the Disney movie, instead of “Milan”) but quipped, “I always look at Chelsey. If she’s freaking out, it must be something big.”

On to another hotel — a less palatial pad because, as Tyra explained, that’s how actual models live overseas — and to the Missoni showroom where the models were outfitted in the fall Missoni collection and walked for none other than the Missonis themselves. Swathed in woolen ponchos, delicate scarves, and sci-fi zipper collars in an un-air-conditioned room, the battle with the heat resumed again, causing some of the girls (ahem, Chelsey) to lose their footing a bit. 

Back to the judges’ panel (ft. Margherita Missoni), where the models-to-be went over their overall lackluster photos. Ann fell flat once again, looking mostly terrified of the man she was ostensibly trying to seduce. Kayla overcame her difficulties posing with men and delivered the best shot of the evening, while Chelsey earned runner-up for, as Nigel called it, “talking through her eyelids,” whatever that means. 

Jane was surprisingly good once again. I hadn’t ever considered her a real option for the win, but she seems to be closing in on Ann and Kayla as a favorite to take the title. The bottom two were Chris, who in Andre Leon Talley’s estimation looked like she was being attacked by a crow in the picture, and Liz, who hiked her skirts up on the gondola in a decidedly un-ladylike way. Chris was saved by virtue of her bubbly personality, and Liz got sent packing across the ocean. I have to say, I’ll miss Liz — she brought some of the best lines of the season so far. Out of this final five, I don’t see Jane or Chris going much further. It’s almost time to place your bets!

Tyra fashion watch: I was glad to see her break out of the one-shoulder monotony with the cute black strapless number at the judges' table. Plus, her outfit when she visited the girls looked sharp and not as costumey as those high-waisted pants come off as. 

Best line:
“I could get used to living a fabulous life. I’m gay, that’s what we’re used to.” -- A little joke from Kayla

-- Margaret Eby


Photo: Clockwise from top, Liz, Chris, Kayla and male model Mario pose in Venice

Credit: Simone Falcetta / Pottle Productions Inc.