This blog promised to deliver you pretty things but so far, this has consisted mainly of cute objects spotted out and about in HK (novelty tweezers, windmill pens, lai see packets). So may I present to you some genuinely literally pretty things – contestants and their photos on Australia’s Next Top Model, Season 5.
Crawling the walls in frustration at having to wait a whole week for new episodes of the current season of Britain’s Next Top Model (I do weekly recaps for Teentoday), I started working my way through various cycles from around the world. Apart from America. I’d say ANTM jumped the shark long ago, but I’m not sure it was ever under/behind/away from the shark to start off with. Miss J has become such a grotesque caricature of a camp fashionista that he sets my teeth on edge, his cringeworthy flights of fancy with batshit-crazy Tyra are skin-curling (their rambles at panel are like you’ve picked up the receiver and accidentally overheard your parents having phone sex or something) whilst the last vaguely bearable part, the photo-shoots, have become so outlandish that they’re now totally ridiculous. In contrast, most other countries’ takes on the format are grounded in reality, shooting real campaigns and photos that could feasibly feature in glossy magazines, rather than adverts for the local freak show.
Season 5 of AusNTM was possibly my favourite cycle of the show to date. The judges were hilariously catty whilst actually speaking sense, the girls were uniformly pretty from the start (rather than the usual ‘I could find better hanging round my street corner’ but who apparently have ‘a strong look’ or could do ‘great editorial’ work), the challenges were realistic, the show was well-paced yet still drama-stuffed and the photos were often breathtakingly beautiful. Season 5 featured ‘bogan-ista’ Cassi van der Dungen, who punched walls in anger, swore at the end of catwalks, was continually puffing on a fag despite habitually claiming to have given up and proclaimed her desire to leave every other week whilst frustratingly taking amazing photos too = brilliant television. I was just happy that the word bogan was in common usage in Oz and not just a creation of Neighbours. [She later managed to get embroiled in a Facebook war with Charlotte Dawson and Alex Perry and make derogatory comments about the French after quitting Paris Fashion Week.]
And I haven’t even mentioned lantern-jawed Lola’s line theftduring the Maybelline commercial, one girl weeping she would rather go home than have her hair cut and the insane amount of bitching that culminated in fat accusations, fag ends being dumped in someone’s bed and Cassi storming into someone’s shower and all-too-scarily threatening to rip her hair out. The season was eventually (and justifiably) won by Tahnee Atkinson, a big blue-eyed curvy beauty with an irresistible mouth. Totally cute, and yes, I had a girl-crush on her all season.
I adored the final photo-shoot, by Jez Smith; the banner photo of Tahnee was my absolute favourite of the series. I love how the background, all crashing waves and ominous clouds, is ultra-dramatic yet Tahnee, in her beautiful buy-me gown, is so serenely lushly beautiful. The greyscale effect adds a romantic, timeless quality; basically, wow. Claire and Cassi aren’t looking too shabby in theirs either – I particularly adore how vulnerable and bare Claire looks whilst Cassi, for all her flaws, really is an Oz Kate Moss.
The desert shoot, by Russell James, was just stunning (top to bottom: Tahnee, Adele, Franky, Cassi, Clare, Lola). You can always tell the good photographers from the bad when every single girl manages to look great (I now always look out for James on these shows as his work is so consistent). I love how these photos tell a story, that the setting looks cinematic in its stark baking beauty, that the colours are so vivid and that there are more fierce eyes going on here than Tyra has managed in a whole career. Most importantly, the girls’ bodies are smokin’, the styling is fantastic and the end result is an amazing strong but sexy look. The heat practically ripples off the celluloid.
It certainly beats seeing Tyra’s minions endlessly recreate the ‘Broken Down Doll’ pose whilst pretending to be a slab of meat at an abattoir, don’t you think?