There's a new warden at ANTM Correctional. He's about 6'7", clad in Chado Ralph Rucci couture, he walks tall and carries a very big stick. That stick is more metaphor than literal. The club he wields is one of intelligence, an understanding of what it takes to be an icon of style and a nuts and bolts knowledge of the business of fashion modeling. Now, becoming America's next top model is almost beside the point because just becoming a model and one with an ability to pose for the camera, effectively show and wear clothes and walk on a runway is the job he has to tackle as animal trainer, Deportment coach and prison warden.
The opening episode last week introduced us to the new bevy of soon to be beauties. At first glance, there were some promising looking girls and some that begged the question ,"Which reality show did you sign up for?". Immediately, we were bowled over by the fearless Super Model, Mademoiselle Tyra. Her team of enablers, Jay and Jay jumped to it with immediate make-overs for the 12 girls. There was hissing, crying and cheering after their initial blood letting and coif cutting. The tears that flow like a leaky faucet are maddening. The ladies were a mix of sullen, sweet, doe-eyed and down right dangerous. Demure Debs mixed with swearing , threatening, Banshee Bad-asses.
The group's pen was like a kennel despite its luxurious loft-ness. The ladies bickered and elbowed their way to lay claim to closet space and top or bottom bunks. It was a bunch of unruly, uncouth moths in boot camp hoping to become butterflies. None of the rest of the episode resonated except the incredible aggression of ladies acting like petulant urchins. Fast forward to episode 2 and the lowering of the boom or the swinging of the pendulum.....take your pick.
This is when we picked up a bit of speed and the temperature started to rise. The first casualty was on her way back to wherever and the new set of judges were seated on the bench. Little did we or the hapless harpies know, but one of the judges happened to possess Supreme Court status. The Right Honorable Andre Leon Talley of Vogue, erudite and the Uber-Arbiter of Taste was seated and ready to slam that gavel. The ladies tittered and cooed while he looked on with a certain bemused grin. I couldn't tell if he was going to pull an assault rifle from under the generous sleeve of his Edo-period inspired, bronze Razimir robe created especially for him by Chado Ralph Rucci Couture or bless them with a wave of his hand. School was clearly in session as the first utterances from his lips were on the difference between a drawing room and a Salon and what one appropriately does in the latter. Even Tyra appeared to take notes. I knew this was going to be not only amusing but also an education for all. Let's face it; ALT is a well of experience, intelligence, taste, dry acerbic wit and can reference the most obscure details regarding style, thought, manners, fashion and life. The Then and Now of it is his raison d'etre.
Tyra went from cloying to a Countess in a New York minute. Her game changed before our eyes. The other guest judges raised their games as well, though Rachel Roy was very self possessed from the get go. ALT read his charges in a language they understood exclaiming that one dressed in razor slashed leggings was the essence of "Dreckitude". He's never lost for words or imagery, never. The improvement in the girls was evident by the end of the episode. The howling, hissing she wolves were noticeably tamer and looked like modelhood was a distinct possibility. I'm intrigued with what is to come. Andre has definitely got his work cut out, but he's definitely up to the task. Watching these girls become models is going to be interesting. For the first time in many cycles, I think they just might bring one of these hot house flowers to full, arresting bloom. Whatever happens, we're going to get a free graduate school degree from one of the most gifted professors on the planet. Take notes and bring a sharpened pencil.
On the Street…Viale Strozzi, Florence
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