by Faith-Ashleigh Wong
Top Model is back and this time with an international twist! Seven up-and-coming US hopefuls battle seven determined working models from the UK in the ultimate showdown. Will the Yanks have the home advantage or is this cycle really going to be a British invasion?
New Cycle, New Models
As always, Tyra has put together an eclectic mix of interesting looks and personalities. There's spunky TV presenter Annaliese, the overtly sexual wild child Laura, Alisha from the "British ghetto", the edgy and androgynous AzMarie and Mariah, Top Model's first Native American contestant.
There is also a "fiercely real" contestant representing each team – Louise and Seymone. Who will embrace their curves more? My favourite right off the bat is the adorable and (as she herself expected!) subtitled Ashley who hails from Scotland. As hard as it is to catch sometimes, I do love the Scottish accent...
I was surprised when it was revealed that the British contestants were not "freshman" but had in fact already competed in Britain's Next Top Model. It will be interesting to if having been through the paces before will have an effect in the challenges. Are the Brits at an advantage? I'd think so.
Challenge – "Fierce Parade"
Both teams arrive at the Universal CityWalk in Hollywood on a float and the Brits already start on a low when they are greeted with silence from the audience. Awkward. Then the two teams face off in a runway show, boxing-match-style. In the words of the host, known ring announcer Michael Buffer: Let's get ready to rrrrrunway!
The Good: I liked Sophie versus Kyle. Their showdown showed their competitiveness but in a playful way. Alisha versus Eboni were particularly great at the end of the runway. The way they had their backs up against each other was so graceful and synchronized, felt like they had planned it.
The Bad: Jasmia throwing her jacket at AzMarie's face. Not cool. You could argue that it could possibly have been an accident but hey this is Top Model we're talking about here!
The Ugly: The competition takes a nasty turn when Candace calls Ashley "trick" which is a slang word for prostitute. [cue cat fight yowl] Too far, Candace.
Photo Shoot – "Culture Clash"
The two teams face off again when they are tasked to portray American and British iconic figures while jumping on a trampoline. The twist – there will be sixty cameras shooting them so as to capture their image in 3D.
The Good: Sophie & Seymone were the best by a mile. They both embodied Margaret Thatcher and Michelle Obama perfectly. I loved their poses; so much shape and movement – very dynamic. I also thought Kyle and Louise captured the spirit of Andy Warhol and Amy Winehouse really well.
The Bad: Alisha put on too tough a face and was not convincing in the slightest as Elton John. Also, her tucking in her legs was a huge crime considering what long and beautiful legs she has! I was disappointed by Ashley's and Mariah's performance as Princess Diana and Pocahontas. Those two figures should have been pretty easy to draw inspiration from for poses.
The Ugly: My least favourite was Catherine as Queen Elizabeth I. While her pose was pretty good and showed off the gown well, the expression on her face was just so weird and in my opinion did not reflect the Queen. Jasmia seemed to have gotten John Lennon mixed up with Lenny Kravitz, embodying more 80s rock and roll than The Beatles.
Judging – New Judge, Patriotic Lips & First Elimination
Tyra introduces the newest judge to join the Top Model family – Kelly Cutrone, fashion industry PR maven. For those of you keeping track, she replaces André Leon Talley. I will miss his jovial presence at the table; Kelly looks a bit scary!
The Brits are not off to a good start when the Americans clearly blew the Brits out of the water with this first shoot. Only Sophie and Catherine from Team UK impress the judges and live to see another week.
In the end it came down to the girl who was a "royal mess" and the girl whose "clothes were wearing her". What do you think? Did the correct contestant get sent home?