Tag Archives: swimwear shoot

Australia’s Next Top Model, Cycle 7 – the full Monty?

montana cox

I stopped recapping Australia’s Next Top Model when I hit Season 7; after re-watching it recently, I remembered why – it was boring.

Yes, the show had its most successful winner ever in the shape of the stunning Montana “Monty” Cox – who has since walked for the likes of Chanel, Dior, Givenchy and Tom Ford at London, Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks (*waves happily at awful Season 4 winner Demelza Reveley, last spotted advertising Ferrero Rocher*). That’s her up above managing to rock having no eyebrows in a Dubai desert by the way. And her managing to rock a ridiculous beehive and sweltering winter clothes in summer down below. Goddess.

montana dubai ausntm season 7

But a cast of beautiful girls does not necessarily great television make, and given the fact that Season 7 didn’t include:

Girl forced to repeat the phrase “I am a power pussy” down the phone to her mum
Model shagging member of the crew, who had to be escorted off-set
Batshit-crazy constestant having meltdown over someone speaking too loudly in a taxi
Massive bullying scandal and the host not turning up for the finale
Punching of walls, swearing on catwalks and stealing of lines in a commercial
The wrong winner being announced

It was substantially less good than any of the seasons of AusNTM that preceded it. Hell, there weren’t even any proper meltdowns at makeover. Is that not the main reason for makeovers?

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Australia’s Next Top Model, Cycle 6: Wrong winner, right everything else

By now, you probably all know about Australia’s Next Top Model, Cycle 6 – for all the wrong reasons! This was the season that made international headlines after host Sarah Murdoch announced the wrong winner, a huge shame for someone like me, who had been quietly and avidly following the show for weeks only to find massive unavoidable spoilers all over the Internet before I had even set eyes on the finale! It was also a huge shame for the show, which had enjoyed its strongest year yet and undoubtedly, it’s slickest live finale (lest we forget the car crash telly of Jodhi Meares’ face-palming Season 3). And yes, the cock-up of all cock-ups was even more cringeworthy when you watched the final in its entirety, where runner-up Kelsey Martinovich was allowed to celebrate winning for a good minute and a half whilst Murdoch’s face slowly turned a shade of green her Botox never thought it could manage.

ANYWAY. The downside of it being the best year contestant-wise was that, drama-wise, it was actually a little dull. The funniest moment was when the obligatory crew-cut at makeover, Sophie Van Der Akker (skin possibly entirely composed of foundation, below) attempted to re-attach her ratty hair extensions back at the house. So they cut her hair even shorter instead! Kudos also to the evil genius who decided to send the girls to Japan for their overseas trip, where they made bemused appearances on a ‘Super Kawaii!!!’ show, where they had to hop like bunnies and dress as schoolgirls and Lolitas, whilst their midget stylists burst into tears of happiness/sadness/randomness at every opportunity.

Drama came courtesy of the most beloved of all AusNTM tropes – the bogan (see Eboni Season 2, Leiden Season 4, Cassi Season 5). This year, it was Gold Coast Meter Maid (think Hooters girl, but in charge of parking fees) Kimberly Thrupp (above). Alternating between giving ‘110%’ and not being arsed, she objected to a shoot concept as, at the grand old age of 20, she ‘didn’t believe in true love’, swore during a presenting challenge and, despite saying her ‘butt’ was ‘grabbable’ at a jeans promo, took issue with having to model swimwear and flounced off to pack her bags (needless to say, she didn’t leave and instead continued to give ‘110%’ whilst admitting she wasn’t trying her hardest). Alex Perry called her ‘so annoying I want to stab myself so it can all be over’.

When she was finally given the boot for her attitude, renowned photographer (and AusNTM Nigel Barker-lite) Jez Smith tried to offer some encouragement about carrying on. Instead, dear Kimberly stuck her chin out, told everyone she wasn’t going to carry on modelling and was going to ‘do something with my life’. Renowned supermodel Sarah Murdoch told her she had ‘the goods to make it’, to which Kimberly maturely replied, ‘Don’t want to. Learnt enough… need to find something else to entertain myself with now’. Hear that sound, Murdoch? It’s a 20 year-old Gold Coast Meter Maid pissing all over your entire life’s work and career! Sadly, the cameraman had gone to sleep, too busy segueing to the moving elimination soundtrack, and was too late to capture the reactions of the panel (can you imagine how Alex Perry looked?!), allowing us to merely hear their ruminations about how they should have kept the previously-eliminated girls instead. Kimberly then refused to hug anyone (‘Is the car out back?’) and made her exit. Kimberly was last seen fishing around for a model agency.

kelsey martinovich ausntm mad men

Fortunately for the lack of drama in-house (the final two, Kelsey and Amanda, were both so sickeningly nice and beautiful that they make Elle Macpherson look like a troll) was that the judges were on top form. Despite a personnel change from the catty Jonathan Pease in the Mr Jay role, to former Banana In Pyjama, the superfluous Josh Flinn (main contribution: report cards that Sarah Murdoch made a big fuss of at panel before chucking away without a second glance, occasional bursts of tap dancing, alas not in banana/pyjama costume), there were plenty of great quotes like:

I would raise my eyebrow… if I could.

(On a photo) She’s competing with the couch… and I keep thinking to myself that’s quite a fabulous sofa.

(In reply to someone saying a photo had ‘a Dynasty look about it’) More like dysentery!

Hmmm… perhaps you had to be there, but Alex Perry and Charlotte Dawson took time out of their Facebook slanging matches to continue to be the best thing about the show. Alas, they had very little reason to get bitchy, as the photos were almost universally ridiculously strong. The majority of them looked like professional editorial or ad campaigns, especially in contrast to NZNTM’s amateurish second season (more of which later).

So onto the pretty things… and too many good ‘uns to pick from! As you may have worked out, my love for all things 50s inspired meant I was a sucker for the first week’s Mad Men-inspired photo-shoot, shot by Jez Smith. Gorgeous styling, beautiful make-up and a great atmosphere, albeit more Hitchcock heroine than Joan Holloway (cue girls wondering if Grace Kelly was a man * sigh *). I love how Jez Smith actually captures some emotion from the girls’ eyes (many shoots this series, although pretty, are simply that… just pretty), often a quiet pain or sadness that’s at odds with the flawless imagery. I’ve liberally scattered this post with my favourite photos, which are (top to bottom): Sophie, Kimberly, Joanna Broomfield (wistfully romantic – love this shot), Kelsey, Chantal Crocolo (Keira Knightley’s Egyptian half-sister), Alison Ware and Sally Geach (who both didn’t even make it through the first round!). Kathryn Lyons, meanwhile, looks simply beautiful, as she continued to do throughout.

Kathryn (above) was probably the most photogenic model I’ve seen yet on NTM. In VTs, she was an unassuming scrap of a thing, bony, bad skin, mousy; in photos, she somehow transformed into a gamine graceful goddess, a divine creature blessed with flawless skin and a beautiful bone structure, with a touch of the Audrey Hepburn about her. My favourite photo of her was from the swimwear shoot, which literally took my breath away. It’s just stellar – stunning, sensual with a gorgeous natural ease to it. Needless to say, it’s the banner picture.

Week 2 was a denim campaign, think glossier 80s Bananarama record sleeve (above)! Jessica Moloney’s could be published tomorrow (Jessica Stam and Lily Cole’s love child, given an emo makeover). I also love the use of body shapes and lighting in Amanda’s photo, and the steel tubes and industrial setting work well with the double-denim styling to give an edgy, cool feel.

Week 3 was beauty shot time, in the presence of Harper’s Bazaar editor Claudia Navonne. With an accent pitched somewhere between one of Roald Dahl’s witches and an East European brothel madam, Claudia’s description of ‘POUFF! Magic happens!’ never fails to entertain. Kelsey’s tigress shot (above) is stunning – that fierce mane of hair, the sense of movement in a static image and eyes that connect and are saying very naughty things!

I love the whimsical feel of Week 6’s accessories shoot for Cosmo (above), with one very important accessory – a live animal! The real thought that had gone into matching the animal with the accessories is superb and works in different ways; whilst Amanda’s strong editorial look contrasts spectacularly with the cute little pig she’s holding, Jessica really captures the fun side of the shoot, interacting naturally with her Dalmatian and producing a really infectiously lovely photo.

Week 7 (are you bored yet?) and the usual NTM sadistic streak reared its head, getting models to sport lingerie in sub-zero temperatures (above). I love the vintage, Dr Zhivago-esque styling, whilst the scenery provides a stunning backdrop. The iciness really brings out the ethereal blue in Jessica’s eyes and I was banging on about how wonderful Kathryn’s photo was several days later. (Can you BELIEVE she got sent home that week?!?!).

kathryn lyons ausntm cruise

Finally, deep breath (are you worn out yet), a few moments for eventual winner Amanda Ware. A deserving winner in my eyes, who I’m proud to say I picked out right from the off, as she was about the only one in the opening credits who didn’t look either ugly or unable to walk without looking drunk. Her best photo, for which Alex Perry ran out of synonyms and intensifiers for ‘expensive’, was shooting luxury brands on a luxury yacht. She looks long, lean, entirely above it all… and yes, ridiculously expensive (although as ever, Kathryn gave her a run for her money). In contrast, Tyra Banks much-mooted ‘High Fashion’ Cycle 15 of ANTM saw contestants defying belief and actually dressing up, often in drag, as famous fashion designers. Is there any question as to which series has more class, style and intrinsic understanding of how fashion should work?!

However, my favourite thing about the whole season was the promo. Are there many greater pleasures in life than seeing Charlotte Dawson waving wads of cash at the camera as a bookie (!), 16 pretty girls pretending to be racehorses/greyhounds (!!) wearing evening gowns and going face-first into the dirt (!!!) and Dame Alex Perry, complete with sunglasses and fur, lowering his binoculars to declare ‘Expensive’!!!! The answer (for NTM devotees anyway): no. Enjoy!

Incidentally, this post means I have now reviewed every season of Australia’s Next Top Model so far! That can only mean one thing – ranking time! So if you’re wondering where to start with AusNTM, here’s my take:

BEST TV:  Cycle 5 > Cycle 2 > Cycle 1 > Cycle 4 > Cycle 3 > Cycle 6

BEST PHOTOS/MODELS:  Cycle 6 > Cycle 5 > Cycle 2 > Cycle 3 (Alas, one Burdeu does not make up for a cast of shorties) > Cycle 1 > Cycle 4

The word cycle looks strange now. My work here is done.

Australia’s Next Top Model, Cycle 1: The importance of being a power pussy

Quite why Australia’s Next Top Model doesn’t crow about the success of its first season is beyond me. Whilst Season 3’s Alice Burdeu gets trotted out at the drop of a hat, Season 1’s winner goes unmentioned and unremembered – strange given that Gemma Sanderson has been amongst the most successful of the Next Top Model alumni internationally, working steadily ten (!) years on from the programme, albeit on a mainly commercial level (you’ll spot her regularly and ASOS and she’s actually one of the top-earning e-commerce models in the world). I had actually heard of her before the show, which must mean something!

If you’re used to first cycles having an awkward host, ugly cast, cheap shoots and an uninspiring winner (hello Canada and Britain!), look away now. Other than a first episode where the cameraman hadn’t realised that filming over the host’s shoulder with a direct view to the photos she was handing out probably wasn’t a great idea during call-out, Season 1 was a cracker. The drama… the tears… the bitching – and that was just on the phone to their loved ones! Nothing beats an unhinged wannabe, fresh from being accused of being anorexic, screaming ‘YOU DO NOT OWN ME!!!’ down the phone at her on/off boyfriend or an encouraging mother motivating her upset daughter by forcing her to repeat ‘I am a Power Pussy!’ three times in the full glare of the viewing public.

Then there were the characters. Having watched six series of AusNTM, I’d got used to there always being one “bogan”, a skanky small-town girl whose hicks-ville ways are held up as cause for amusement. This being the first series, there was not just one bogan but half the bloody cast! This lot were mostly endearingly ignorant, with Aborigine model Shannon McGuire coming out with gems like people must be famous because ‘they have a commercial’ (she was slightly stumped as to what to call herself when the finalists got to film one themselves) and being startled at a fancy restaurant by a waiter putting a napkin on her lap and mesmerised by the concept of mineral water!

There was also gobby Sam, pleased to lose a challenge since she was sick of being the experienced one (‘I am so happy to be the underdog for five minutes, thank God!’), an attitude she strangely lost when she happened to win one. Girlfriend even had her own signature pose, the ‘Triple S’ (Sam Shoulder Squint). There was wooden Atong, one of the few black women ever on NTM not to have received the trademark Grace Jones cut at makeover, who thought that someone had stolen money from her wallet in the first episode – yet gave wildly differing values each time she was asked about it. There was plastic Allana, who was continually quizzed over her definitely not-fake boobs, threw a tantrum at makeover when her scraggy hair extensions were removed, was thrown out of a challenge by Napoleon Perdis’ far-more-normal brother for refusing to ditch her fake eyelashes and walked before she was pushed for repeatedly sneaking out to meet her boyfriend. And there was eventual winner Gemma, who managed to shack up with a dinner guest one evening (they found his underpants later!) and whose depression caused sudden outbursts of tears that, as sod’s law would have it, only mortal enemy Sam seemed to be able to quell.

Judge-wise, there was the first appearance of a happier and more innocent Alex ‘expensive’ Perry, albeit with obsession of getting rid of ‘midgets’ and those deemed ‘not beautiful’ already in place. There was someone who claimed be a stylist but wore clothes that looked like they’d been picked by his mum and who had about as much personality as said apparel; however, he did have the best line of the series about a girls’ chunky arse: ‘Stick a handle on it and it’s an overnight bag’.

Fox8 are keen to erase all memory of Erika Heynatz, who jumped ship to another channel in pursuit of her singing career (attempts at which she sadly inflicted on us in Season 2), but she was actually a great host, the most hands-on one I’ve ever seen. I wondered if she even had a room in the model house, given the regularity with which she’d pop up for the most mundane of events, at one point strolling round the corner and scaring the daylights out of Gemma! She also turned up unscheduled to give Allana a memorable bollocking when she quit, ending her diatribe with a delightfully abrupt ‘Happy birthday babe!’

Even the photos were unexpectedly good. The best shoots were done by Nick Leary and I wondered why he hadn’t appeared on any of the latter seasons of AusNTM; come episode four, where he came on to two of the girls and ‘pashed’ another at a party, I soon realised why! Regardless of how he lives up to his surname (think about it…!), his photos are rather fantastic. The sexy swimwear shoot was the first of the whole season, making the hit rate of quality shots even more surprising – let’s just say you can never beat a good pair of fingerless gloves! [Shown earlier: Sam, Shannon, Allana]

The second shoot, on horseback, was similarly gorgeous. They feel like scenes from an epic  movie – romantic, moody, but with a sense of adventure and breathless sensuality too. My boyfriend had issues with the fact that you can barely see the horse in most of them though! [Above: Gemma, Shannon; Below: Sam, Zoe – who is now apparently a wrestler!]

Finally, leery Leary was in his element with the obligatory nude photoshoot. Gemma’s shot (the banner photo) is just beautiful – a judge commented that her gilded limbs looked ‘genetically engineered’ they were that perfect – and although the other girls all produced great photos by going straight for the fierce jugular, I preferred Gemma’s more elegant approach. The boring judge suggested that she was trying out for The Lion King, but that tawny quality complements the pose nicely, managing to be graceful, statuesque and powerful all at once. Bear in mind that this is the first ever cycle of AusNTM and we got three sterling shoots, whilst Cycle 14 of ANTM had ‘dresses made of hair’ and ‘vampires in a bath’ as themes.

In case you’re wondering what’s with the artfully deconstructed banner photo, I’m afraid that Cycle 1 is from a time before the Internet got good and so I went for screencaps instead. Most of the shots were only released in sizes fit for hanging on the Borrowers’ walls, whilst Sam’s horseback photo was entirely different and markedly inferior to the one shown on the programme so my pieced-together screencap is a bit of an exclusive! As for the swimwear shots – well, those were so smoking that they’re still in most of the models’ portfolios five years on. I guess there’s something to be said for having your photos taken by a bit of a perve then.

Australia’s Next Top Model Cycle 3: A Burdeu in the hand is worth two in the bush

alice burdeu ausntm

I’ve now managed to work my way back to Australia’s Next Top Model Season 3 – arguably the season that revolutionised Next Top Model around the world by proving that a bona fide high-fashion model could emerge from a reality show. It’s easy to say with hindsight but watching Alice Burdeu tower above all the other competitors was like seeing a prettier version of Snow White & The Seven Dwarves, with Snow White played by a young Karen Elson.

alice burdeu australia's next top model

Seeing Burdeu cruise through the competition (even if her ‘back was still peeeeeeling’ as she memorably wept during a VT) was not the only highlight. One of the most entertaining contestants was batshit-crazy Paloma Rodriguez, nuts enough to impress even wild-eyed Tyra. She’d have a meltdown on an episodic basis with perennial bouts of ‘anxiety attacks’ (which the rest of us would no doubt diagnose as nerves, stress or PMS), whilst exuding an air of general superiority and entitlement that obviously went down a charm with judges, finalists and viewers alike. Having said that, she had underhand manipulation skills worthy of the slimiest politician – despite constant arguments with the girls, coming out with gems like ‘Guess what – you just lost me as a friend!’, somehow the person she’d belittled would always return to Paloma proffering forgiveness with one well-manicured hand and apologies with  the other. Her best moments were wailing like the sky was falling in when one contestant was eliminated and having an ‘anxiety attack’ due to someone talking too much in a taxi (no really) on the phone to her bemused mother (‘What? I can’t hear you!’), all the while pouting at the camera in designer shades. As you do. [Below are some of her best shots, on the rare occasions when she wasn’t having an anxiety attack]

There was also the bewildering progress of Steph Hart, a pretty but average girl in the mould of the many pretty but average girls that Neighbours and Home & Away suggest form half the population of Australia, who became the benefactor/victim of Jodhi Meares’ latest girl-crush (see: Demelza Reveley) and somehow made it all the way to the final. I hear she’s now working in a mall, such is her next top model potential. Third-placed Jordan Loukas, with a face caught somewhere between Jessica Biel and the Siamese cats from Lady & The Tramp, was my personal favourite, with her phrase ‘Game on, mole!’ becoming part of my everyday vernacular. I try to use it once a day, for anything from shouting at my screen over annoying NTM contestants to digging into a tub of ice-cream. And, three cycles on, I’m still not certain that the ‘alternate girl’ (Jane Williamson) was even human, let alone female. I’ve seen more expression on an emoticon.

All this is mere small fry compared to the steaming hot mess that was the finale. If you were annoyed that Jodhi Meares didn’t turn up to present Cycle 4’s final, Cycle 3’s proves why not showing up was the best decision she ever made, even if it robbed bloopers shows of at least an hour’s worth of footage. For the parts where Meares remembered to speak, you could practically see the glint of the Autocue in her frightened eyes; mostly, she just stood frozen amongst the chaos as awkward silences, bizarre attempts to fill awkward silences and bellowing arguments ran riot over proceedings. Until Charlotte Dawson, no doubt being screamed at through an earpiece, inevitably took over.

There was a row between Meares, photographer Jez Smith and Alex Perry over the merits of Steph H – no scripted witticisms here, just messy shouting over each other, with Meares and Smith both supporting Steph but for confusingly conflicting reasons, while Perry’s anti-Steph pro-Burdeu tact essentially boiled down to a child singing ‘I know you are, you said you are, but what am I?’, albeit with one eyebrow raised. As the head of Priscilla’s Model Agency, gave her speech about how Steph was basically shit (I’m reading between the lines), Meares forgot about her mike, sighing ‘Here we go…’ over Priscilla’s criticism. And just as Alex Perry was about to cast his vote, had actually launched into his speech, in Jodie blundered with a “vital” recap of the votes so far. I could practically hear the producer bashing his head against a wall. Whilst Meares stood around looking like a spare part, it was up to Dawson to round up the show and actually present Burdeu with her prize. Television gold.

ausntm-cycle-3-jordan-alice-mary-poppins

Oh yes, the photos. Whilst not a patch on seasons four and five, my favourite shoot was the modern-day Mary Poppins one, also known (by me) as ballerinas with brollies, shot by Dean Tilton. I absolutely love the dreamy romantic styling and although a lot of the faces are semi-obscured, I think these photos qualify as art rather than glorified adverts. Jordan’s pose makes the most out of the fetish ballet shoes and tutu-esque tulle, all the more incredible if you consider she was being whizzed through the air on a harness at the time. (l-r: Alice, Jordan)

My other favourite shoot was by Jez Smith, in a glorified advert for Meares’ swimwear line. Once you forget about the two main problems, that you can rarely see either the swimwear or the models’ faces, these have a beautiful, mysterious yet serene quality. And then up pops Burdeu, totally blowing everyone out the water (excuse the pun) and as Perry put it, making Meares’ cheapo line look like Chanel. (l-r: Jordan, Steph; bottom: Alice)

Finally, a campaign for Ian Thorpe’s underwear line, photographed by Lyn & Tony. I still don’t quite understand why girls are modelling men’s underwear, especially as you can barely see the underwear in the first place. This was the obligatory ‘emotion’ photoshoot and I do love Alice’s rather petulant interpretation of angry – which I think Dawson interpreted as the bloke being a rubbish shag. Dawson was also on fine form for Jordan’s attempt at suspicion – ‘Is she suspicious because he looks a bit gay? And that, my friends, is why AusNTM will always whip BNTM’s arse.

Well, that and their amazing promos of course…