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'America's Next Top Model' finale: And the winner is...

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"Do you understand how serious this is?" Tyra asked at the beginning of the final judging panel. "This is Top Model elevated!" And, indeed, in case the name Vogue Italia had lost its weightiness from sheer repetition, the judges did their best to impress upon them that one of the two final contestants would have their lives changed forever. Andre Leon Talley wore a sequin cape! Roberto Cavalli, in all his leather-skinned glory, was the guest judge! Jay Manuel wore a bow-tie!(But where, oh where, was Ms. J?)

And yet, we all knew what was coming. As much as the show worked up the suspense — and it did seem for most of the show that the girls were neck and neck — it was a lopsided competition from the beginning. The really interesting choice here wasn’t between freckle-faced, savvy Chelsey and the ethereally gawky, disturbingly-thin Ann. It was between concepts: commercial or haute couture? Girl next door or girl from another planet? Personable or purely photogenic? In other words, would it be the same ANTM style we’ve come to know over 14 seasons, or would the judges really reach for something different?

In the end, Tyra chose the latter. Even though I had predicted an Ann win, it was still somewhat surprising that Tyra broke the "Top Model" mold to make the super-shy, constantly tearful Ann the face of CoverGirl cosmetics. You had to feel a little sorry for Chelsey. Ever since Kayla, Jane and Chris left, there’s only been one clear choice in battle Tyra, Round 15. Does this mean a serious shift in the way ANTM doles out its titles? Let’s back up a bit.

The last challenge means that both girls had to do the work that would appear in print and film campaigns should they win, so both Ann and Chelsey had to strut their stuff in a CoverGirl commercial and a mascara ad. Usually this means bad news for the girl with a hard time speaking (that’s you, Ann) but this time, the process was different. Rather than memorizing lines, the ladies did a voice-over separate from the video segment, which improved Ann’s performance considerably. It also was a sure sign that they were leaning toward the model-as-model rather than model-as-spokesperson/actress role. At that point, Ann would have had to start tearing pigeons' heads off with her teeth in order to lose it. The girls flounced around and got gelato on camera, much to the satisfaction of Mr. Jay. And, as a further treat, both contestants’ families were flown in. Seeing Chelsey’s adorable Midwestern mom talk up her daughter was as sweet as "ANTM" gets.

But the main event was, of course, the runway show, featuring the fashions of Roberto Cavalli. Tyra imported the last four girls cut from the show plus a haul of Italian models. Neither contestant blew the walk out of the water — Chelsey was a bit brittle and clenched (as Andre Leon Talley said, "I felt no snap, no crackle and no pop. But your legs looked great.") and Ann stared straight ahead terrifyingly, as if drawn in by a tractor beam. (Talley deemed Ann "a B minus"). 

Alas for Chelsey, in high fashion, total weirdness is often preferable to warmth and corn-fed appeal. And so the inevitable happened. After a brief tussle — Nigel came out strongly for Ann but Cavalli and Mr. Jay pulled hard for Chelsey — Tyra declared Ann the winner. Mazel Tov, Ann! But fear not, Chelsey. As she slunk away in defeat, Tyra reminded her of the real prize: the short-lived — but sometimes quite useful — fame of reality television. "Now you’re not just a pretty blond girl," Tyra consoled Chelsey. "Now people know your name."

The Final Tyra Fashion Watch: Loved, loved, loved her dress for the fashion show — the beige number with the diagonal strap — and her slicked-back bun was looking mighty elegant as well. Her ruffled, navy one-shoulder dress at the judges' panel was not a knockout, but still pretty. Overall, a totally un-horrifying season of dresses. 

Best quote: "They're not bugs, they're fans." —Photographer to Ann when she was swatting away mosquitoes. Aw!


Where are all those former 'America's Next Top Model' contestants now?

— Margaret Eby 


Photo: Chelsey and Ann face the judges.

Credit: Ivano Grasso /The CW

Comments () | Archives (8)

Ann deserved to win. She is so unique and high fashion. She's been my favorite since the beginning of this years cycle. People may think she's awkward, but certainly not in front of the camera. Her awkwardness and humble attitude make her more endearing -

I am so happy that Ann won. I was concerned that her discomfort on the runway was going to make it impossible for her to win, but I did not see Chelsey on the pages of Italian Vogue. Good for Tyra! Now let's just hope that Ann doesn't get too freeked out by her sudden fame

Congratulations Ann well deserved win! Ann is so beautiful in the Cover Girl and the runaway. She is young and has a lot of potential to learn and be trained as super model while Chelsey for a model she is considered old she's been trying to be a model for all of her life but yet she did not succeed because there is nothing especial or interesting about her. She wont succeed in this industry because she is so ambitious, she feels that she knows everything and not humble.

Chelsey is pretty but Ann is stunning. Ann is so striking in her photos that it would have been a crime for her not to win.

There are a million girls who look like Chelsey, but Ann is truly one of a kind.

I believe that Anne was the better choice because she epitomizes high fashion such as Vogue Italia. Her personality is who she is and that to me makes her unique. There are many artist in the field who are shy and have a quiet demeanor, but what she does in the front of the camera is what counts in the long run. Consider the shyness of Prince, by the way who is a legend, but put him on stage and you have the performance of a life time. The same could be said about Michael Jackson and there are many more artist like them. I appreciate what Tyra has done for the industry because there should be difference and oddities. I am an artist also and I know how to appreciate what isn't always the norm. Best luck and success to Anne because she did earn it!!!!!

I'm so happy that Ann won! I was worried because I didn't think she was as commercial as chelsey! But ever since the first photoshoot, I knew Ann was the girl who was going to be on the front of Italian vouge! Ann is beautiful and I congratulate her! great discision Tyra! I justhope she doesn't "crack" under pressure! congratulations Ann!

of course I'm not surprised Ann won, even if I predicted otherwise - she was clearly the most high fashion of the two and sadly, Chelsey wasn't unusual looking enough to counter Ann's fabulous portfolio. height and almost sideshow-like freakishness.

unfortunately, even with the stakes so high, this was a pretty disappointing season overall. the girls were lackluster, the challenges not so challenging and some of the decisions by the judges were just downright bizarre, but hey, I still watched!

congrats to Ann, even if I think Jane will really end up getting the most work!



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