The internet was on fire when it was confirmed the Andre Leon Talley, Vogue’s fabulous editor-at-large, would be joining the America’s Next Top Model panel as a judge. As expected, he brings a fashion element in to what is essentially otherwise a clueless reality stunt. The quality of the models is much higher now with some gorgeous mannequins jumping through the ANTM hoops, and hostess Tyra Banks has a new, restrained look which reminds me that she is actually good-looking. The pulled back hair shows off the size and color of her eyes as well as the shape of her face, and the plain neckline is an elegant frame for her long neck.
Andre’s comments have the most impact because they are true. He referred to Simone as ’awkward and gauche’, and he said that Gabrielle was ‘too catalog, and it’s the wrong catalog’. A lot of what passes for advice on ANTM in the past has sounded misguided and inaccurate, but with Andre on the panel you get to hear what real fashion professionals sound like. When Tyra and Andre started talking about how much like an ad a certain photograph was, Nigel bristled and said they were ‘crazy’ – which is not what I would have expected, since he sounded very threatened.
What I loved most was when Andre jumped in and saved Malaysia’s critique by giving real feedback, instead of just playing to the cameras. He told her that she was bold for taking the vest and wearing it backwards. He told her that she had imagination, and then proceeded to say that he would buy the photo if it were in a gallery. He then proceeded to educate the panel and models about the meaning of the word ‘salon’. He took it there, and Nigel is being shown up as someone who doesn’t really know what he’s talking about.
As much as I dislike ANTM, I appreciate the privilege of being able to watch someone of Andre Leon Talley’s caliber interact with the models, calmly and seriously critiquing their work and posing choices. It’s so exciting to listen to him speak and see his mind work. He’s shaking up the status quo and filling the vacuum with real knowledge.