It’s rare that there’s a photo shoot on ‘America’s Next Top Model’ that looks like fun — as opposed to, say, a particularly creative fraternity hazing — but this week’s episode served up a challenge that seemed, all things considered, pretty enjoyable. But, of course, not before a humiliating catwalk competition, an inter-model feud about leftovers on the kitchen counter and a house visit from Andre Leon Talley. Just another week in ‘Top Model’ land, mes chéries.
For the models’ beginning contest — their sort of fashion quickfire, if you will — the ladies had to strut their stuff on a square runway, complete with the returning, impossibly ripped male models from the makeover episode.The outfits were Herve Leroux dresses, the prize some Marie Antoinette-level luxe jewelry, and there weren’t any venomous insects or bungee cords in sight. But, of course, allowing the models to go through a catwalk with their dignity intact is for rookies, or at least later episodes, so there was a catch: The runway was actually a conveyor belt, going the opposite way. The impeccably chic contestants had to flaunt their stuff while essentially running on a treadmill in heels. Spills? Chills? Oh my, yes. When one model asked Miss Jay if getting her train caught in the spinning catwalk was a risk, Jay, whose bun and eyebrows are growing incrementally each episode to staggering hair-heights, choked back a laugh: “Girl, fashion is a risk.”
Predictably, most of the ladies teetered or slipped or generally looked like startled newborn gazelles. The winner — based mostly on her ability to keep a smile on her face throughout — was Kacey, whose smugness has been making her an object of derision in the house. In fact, upon the ladies’ return, she immediately got into a screaming match with Lexie and Liz before going to pout in her room. Luckily, Andre Leon Talley — resplendent in a bedazzled NAACP T-shirt —dropped by to introduce guest judge and alliteration champ Karolina Kurkova, who then dished out some smoothies to the women for no readily apparent reason.
The cryptic Tyra Mail riddle for this week’s big photo shoot was “Don’t let the competition throw you.” Liz — whose dry wit far outshines her modeling potential — guessed, “We’re about to be thrown out of a helicopter!” But fate and Tyra were with the women this week. The photo shoot was posing with Mexican wrestlers in the pit, festooned in glittery leotards and (for Kacey, at least) vintage gold Dolce & Gabbana boots. The hair was enormous, the jewelry spiky and the sequins generously doled out. It was all a bit "Mad Max" meets ‘Rupaul’s Drag Race’/hookers from "Blade Runner." But better than being dangled from a harness or covered in shrimp, right?
When it came to elimination time, there were a few surprises this week. Chris — who’s been floating around the bottom three for weeks now — pulled out all the stops with her midair shot and got second pick, plus a nod from Tyra for her ferocity. Ann, who seemed like she fell apart in the shoot, landed best photo for the fourth time in a row — ANTM history, plus a surefire sign that house resentment is going to grow along with her prospects for the top spot. I was pulling for Kayla, who totally rocked it in her long-haired Mohawk, but she ended up in the middles. The bottom two were ol’ Ivy Leaguer Jane and profile-only Lexie. Jane was triumphant, and Lexie went home, but not before firing a final shot at Kacey. “I wish them all well. No, I wish all but one of them well.” Sting. So who’s going to take on Kacey and her leftover-leaving self now? Is Ann going to go undefeated all season? How long is Liz going to stay in the mix? And when, oh when, will Miss Jay get his own talk show? Tune in next week, for more tears and smizes.
Tyra weave watch: A completely reasonable — and really very flattering — blue this week. Her one-shouldered trend continues, but this time in white.
Best Tyra line:“Her face looks like (eyes widen, grimace), 'What you sayin’ to me?!' ”
Honorable mention, best lines: “I would rather have natural labor again than do that” -- Liz, on the treadmill runway challenge
“Boy, this ain’t what you want! I’m from Texas, honey.” -– Chris, attacking a wrestler
-- Margaret Eby