Tag Archives: Simon Upton

Australia’s Next Top Model, Cycle 2: Bogan is best?

If you thought Season 1 of Australia’s Next Top Model hit the ground running, Season 2 proved you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Before the finalists even got within sniffing distance of the model house, they were subjected to a gruelling army assault course followed by their first sweaty mud-encrusted photo-shoot followed by their first elimination! Alas, poor bug-eyed Sasha’s trek to Sydney was all in vain – possibly a ruse to cover up the fact that ugmo Sasha had clearly been mistakenly invited in the first place. This was all within the first twelve minutes.

The real twelfth finalist, spunky Madeleine Rose, allowed to escape the indignities of the assault course, was already clad in a slinky evening dress, sipping champagne and awaiting the rest of the befuddled girls at the model house, who thought she was their hostess. No such niceties, Madeleine had already bagged a bed. Meanwhile, it transpired another girl was related to Olivia Newton-John (I’m now hoping that everyone in Australia is at least her first cousin). We’re only fifteen minutes in.

23 minutes saw “Princess” Hiranthi lock the rest of the girls in the apartment by pissing off to the gym with the only key-card but without telling anyone. 25 minutes was the first catwalk challenge, somehow won by Eboni who’d strutted down with only one shoe on. 33 minutes in saw the first big house argument, over Princess’ hour-long sessions in the bathroom whilst 43 minutes saw the first big house piss-up, complete with lesbian snogging and Lara shaving off a sleeping Hiranthi’s eyebrow.

Remember how last season built up to a final nude photo-shoot? Well, this season, it started with one! Princess Hiranthi ummed and ahhhed over whether to participate, one girl gashed her knee with a razor and there were more tits flying about than at a nut-stuffed bird feeder but actually, the photos turned out rather nicely. Lara’s, below, was my favourite – I love how soft and sensual she looks here – whilst the most action-packed of action-packed first episodes culminated in an unexpected double elimination. Bloody hell.


Frankly, this would be enough drama for a whole season of most other Next Top Model shows. But Cycle 2 continued to progress like a soap-writer’s wet dream. Olivia Newton John’s third cousin once removed quit. Lara flashed her bum in a shop window. Alex Perry debuted his ‘expensive’ line. One girl planted horse manure on another’s pillow. Man-eater Madeleine got laid at one challenge win and had a fling with a grungy-looking member of the crew (‘We just chatted’ she claimed, as infra-red footage showed her moaning and squirming around her sleeping bag in ecstasy). Then another girl claimed the same hair stylist had come onto her too, cue him yelling ‘If you think your little fucking presence can fuck with my existence, you’ve got another thing coming!’ Next scene: him being driven away (rumour has it he only left because she threatened legal action). Runner-up Jess slowly began to unravel in a series of panic attacks and death glares. Then there was the saga of Eboni.

Cycle 2’s bogan, Tasmanian Eboni’s platypus bill of a mouth seemed unable to open properly, meaning every uncouth utterance came out as an obscenity-laden manly drawl that practically needed subtitles. On a punishing  trek round the bush, she began suffering back pains and was carted off to hospital. She returned briefly but on being unable to feel her arms in a swimming session, was ferried back to hospital again. They uncovered a problem with her artery that could potentially cause a stroke so she announced that she was pulling out and her photo disappeared from the end of episode group shot. But then, lo and behold, she was back! Effectively given a bye for the week, Madeleine and Jess were rightly angry yet bizarrely edited to look like villains whilst Eboni launched into one of her usual foul-mouthed tirades and mimed strangling Jess behind her back. Eboni’s injury meant she was unable to pose properly, but outrageous favouritism from the panel saw her all the way to the final, by which time the abnormal artery had been talked up as Eboni having actually had a stroke, become a paraplegic and waiting at death’s door. (Contrast this special treatment with how Gemma’s depression, also a serious illness, was near trivialised in Season 1.)

If last cycle was the Season of the Bogan, this was the Season of the Blonde. We started off with about fifty indistinguishable pretty blondes and an all-round decent cast but despite this, we ended up with a final two of brunette fugs. At least Jess started photographing amazingly at the end, with a touch of the Erin O’ Connor about her, but I just wasn’t a fan of her look. Meanwhile, Eboni had a brace of early strong shots (just not in close-up, thank you very much) but her attitude, lack of versatility (I dread to think how grotesque a smiling shot of her would have been) and most obviously, health problems should clearly have sent her packing.

The drama didn’t end there. Post-win, Eboni ended up confined to hospital for six months, unable to attend the reunion show never mind do any actual modelling, and declared that she wasn’t even sure if she wanted to pursue the career anyway. Well, her dreams came true as she was last spotted waiting tables. That’s in-between being charged with obstructing police after jumping on the back of an officer and being removed from a club kicking and screaming after punching someone (antics that make Cycle 5’s Cassi look like a mere amateur). Meanwhile, Jess sent Eboni abusive text messages during the series’ broadcast, stormed out of a signing session with fellow finalists and punched someone in the gob after snogging a girl at a Gay Bash (literally – ho ho ho) party.

Amidst all this, they still found time for the photos to be amazing, with a five-episode stretch of seriously gorgeous shoots. Following the beautiful nude shots, episode two had a circus-themed lingerie shoot could have easily descended into ANTM absurdity. Instead, it managed to look gritty, powerful and arresting; I particularly enjoyed how cute-as-a-button Lara was contrasted with a circus freak’s rolls of flab. I also love the sexy nonchalance of Madeleine’s pose – the cross of the legs, the cock of the head, the challenging look at the camera. Eboni and Louise’s poses, though practically identical, conjure up entirely different moods, with Eboni’s all long-limbed strength whilst Louise has a sadness and loneliness in her eyes. [Top to bottom: Lara, Madeleine, Louise, Eboni]

Episode 3’s black-and-white 50s starlet emotion shoot, shot by judge Georges Antoni, reminded me of NZNTM Season 1 – except the latter are just good photos whereas Antoni’s are more like art. Simone, playing seductive (as if I need to tell you), is just sinuously sexual here. The curve of the body, the parted lips, the languid eyes… she looks like Anita Ekberg or something, captured in a private moment of just being intensely sexy. Caroline (sadness) epitomises the whole beauty-pain thing that I’m sure is another Tyra-ism and I love how Antoni catches the movement of her wiping away the tear. Meanwhile, Madeleine’s photo (screaming anger) just feels so alive. It looks exactly how I imagine a starlet having a mid-scene temper tantrum, plonking herself down on-set and screaming at some unfortunate minion would look. The glare of light across her eyes is an evocative touch too. [Top to bottom: Caroline, Madeleine, Simone]

Episode 4 marked the returned of Nick Leary and, what with hair stylist Carl stealing his pervy thunder, he just got on with taking stunning photos – even more commendable given how grotty the girls were after a night in the bush. It was all about the styling – a sort of romantic colonial prairie-house look, all big messy hair, big flouncy skirts, white lace gloves, rumpled haystacks and wild animals. Simone’s close-up is flawless but I adore the shape her skirt makes and the lazy way her hands drop down in the full-length version too. The rest (and Lara’s pouty mouth, full stop, which gets the honour of being the banner photo) are just pure sex distilled into a farmyard. [Top to bottom: Simone, Eboni, Louise, Madeleine]

Episode 5’s swimwear shoot marked the first sighting of Jodhi Meares as the client for her Tigerlily line, showing more spark than she did in two seasons as host! I think these photos, by Simon Upton are simple yet stunning. They could be campaigns for Ralph Lauren or Abercrombie & Fitch as they have a wholesome, fresh, natural beauty about them. I absolutely love the guarded look Simone is shooting to camera, which makes you feel like you’re totally intruding in her moment. [Top to bottom: Simone, Madeleine, Louise]

Overall, Season 2 offered almost the perfect balance between pretty things, great telly and the mind-boggling conundrum that has confounded all AusNTM fans for the past 6 years: how the hell did Eboni win?!

Australia’s Next Top Model, Cycle 4: A model example?

Whilst BNTM continues to progress at a snail’s pace i.e. weekly, I’m rapidly making my way through every other English-speaking cycle in the Next Top Model franchise.

As you’ll already know, I rated AusNTM Cycle 5 rather highly. Alas, whilst Cycle 4 offered no punching of walls, swearing at end of catwalks or stealing of lines, it did have a huge bullying controversy and a thoroughly undeserving winner to recommend it – if recommend is the word! Winner Demelza Reveley may have had the flowery name and golden good looks of a Disney Princess, but what a horrid creature she was. Ringleader of the self-named ‘Bitchketeers’ (how dumb must you be to give yourself such a name knowing you’re being filmed), she sniped away unpleasantly at fellow finalist Alexandra Girdwood throughout the entire run and together with her minions, made life a living hell for contestant Alamela Rowan whilst giving simpering butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-mouth VTs. [Alamela was a bit of an oddity anyway – with her alarming poise, pale skin, sing-song voice and penchant for bursting into operatic arias, she had the air of a possessed child from a horror film.]

Quite how Demelza managed to reach the final, let alone win, remains to be seen (she also had a string of vacant-looking photos and fat hips which she did nothing about, even when another girl, Caris, was continuously badgered about her body) – especially as the final of AusNTM is partially decided by public vote. Perhaps it was because she was up against Alex, whose main claim to fame that series had been deliberately fattening up the rest of the girls with calorie-loaded muffins (pure brilliance!). She also had collagen implants, meaning her lips stayed put even when she’d left the room hours ago, a strong editorial look that didn’t always work for other shoots and was clearly more fashion-savvy and intelligent than your average NTM contestant, easily running circles around the Bitchketeers in any arguments. Or perhaps it was because of the blatant favouritism shown by host, Jodhi Meares – herself the cause of controversy for being the only head judge with credentials as a glamour model, being unable to talk without a huge red clipboard of prompts and having a last-minute freak-out which meant she didn’t present the live final and was never seen or talked about in NTM ever again.

But onto the pretty things – the photos. You already know about my love for Russell James so unsurprisingly, I’m a fan of these beach shots. I think more could have been made of the setting, yet I love the intensity he gets out of the girls. These photos have a beautiful warmth and innocence to them, with their eyes completely connecting with the camera. Who knows how much Photoshop goes into these things, but the way James captures the light, depth and glitter to models’ eyes is totally arresting. This, incidentally, is Demelza’s best photo – it wasn’t even shown on the show and is supposed to be advertising swimwear, so make of that what you will! (top to bottom: Sam, Demelza, Alex, Caris)

My other favourite shoot this season was by Simon Upton, where the girls modelled shoes whilst being harnessed to the side of a tall building. The styling here is fantastic – I love the bright colours and fluorescent make-up, which complements the dynamic energy of the poses. With such great styling and the dramatic cityscape background, the girls really didn’t have to do much (well, if you count bouncing off a wall at a 90 degree angle wearing stiletto heels and with a harness digging into you as not much). The top banner picture, which has an amazing movement to it, is of Leiden, the butch bogan of the series, who was always ‘shittin’ bricks’ and having frequent meltdowns and made for very good viewing too. Also shown are (top to bottom) are Sam, Alex and Caris – I’m still in two minds over Caris’ photo, as she either looks like a serene fallen angel or just a corpse, but at least it’s interesting, which is more than I can say for Demelza’s efforts.

I mentioned that the girls didn’t have to do much for Upton’s shoot – and Demelza certainly did just that. Not much. This photo has the air of the crew tidying up for the day and realising ‘Shit – we left a girl up there!’ Alas, Reveley was not left out to dry but had merely slipped whilst bouncing about. Never mind that by being flat-out horizontal, she ruins the proportions of the photo – the model should be the focus, not somehow hanging like a bat on the peripheries and only noticeable because of her colourful quilt-thing. The very thing she’s supposed to be selling (the shoes) barely make the frame! Oh well, at least the skyline looks nice.

Here’s the Russell James shot that was chosen for the show. I’d find it vaguely inoffensive if Jodhi Meares hadn’t suddenly started orgasming and having babies over it – made doubly awful by the fact that the girls were modelling her bikinis and so she had the sway of being the client too. Her posture’s awful, her eyes are vacant, she looks generally gormless and the whole thing’s just blah, lacking the intensity of the rest of the James’ shots. And as my boyfriend pointed out, the pose that Meares went gaga for was stolen from Willy The Wimp, a character I had no idea even existed before I was forced to Google Image to verify my boyfriend’s claims. And now, I can’t see this photo without thinking of a shy-looking monkey. Willy The Wimp for first call-out!