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'America's Next Top Model': Will Ann or Chelsey take the prize?

November 30, 2010 | 11:33 am

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Wednesday marks the finale of the 15th cycle of "America's Next Top Model,"  the show's inaugural foray into the world of high fashion. Though in many ways it was a season like any other -- tearful confessions to Mr. Jay, acrobatic challenges, off-kilter contestants -- the focus on haute couture tamped down the drama in the house considerably. It also led to the elimination of the fresh-faced Covergirl-types who Tyra and the judges normally select for the last two ladies standing; Chris, Kayla, and Jane, girls who would have had more than a fighting chance in seasons past, were all dismissed in the past two episodes. 

And so we have Chelsey and Ann, ladies who both, by the sheer eccentricity of their looks, break the mold in terms of "ANTM" winners. Ann is this season's breakout star, beginning the cycle with a five-show best picture streak unprecedented in Tyra-town. Her waifish face, slightly large ears, and super-tall super-skeletal frame endeared her to fashion houses and photographers, though she suffered whenever a challenge required her to speak in public. She's the most reclusive and shy model to get this far in a cycle to date. 

Chelsey, on the other hand, is closer to the normal "Top Model" winner. Her ice-blond hair and enhanced gap-tooth smile give her a little edge in photographs, and she's a better catwalker than Ann. She also was the only girl who leaped with recognition every time a photographer, designer or judge was announced. The lady knows her stuff, and she's determined. But Chelsey's photos haven't always been strong, and in terms of high fashion, Ann wins it every time. 

So who will win the cover of Vogue Italia? Our bets are on Ann. If Tyra and company are trying to make a statement about the new highbrow "Top Model," they'd be remiss not to pick the model with the most upscale photos, no matter how much she stutters. But only Wednesday's episode -- and the esteemed Roberto Cavalli's runway show -- will tell us for sure.  

Photo: Chelsey, left and Ann prepare for their final challenge. Credit:  Ivano Grasso / The CW