Tag Archives: Russell James

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!

Australia’s Next Top Model, Cycle 5: Pretty (young) things

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.

ausntm cycle 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 theft during 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?