What is it with guys named Simon from Britain? Are they all this cruel? This week, crybaby Catie unleashes more waterworks when a stylist (named, yes, Simon) gives her his “expert” opinion of her personal style. That’s not the only drama for your mama this week: one of the models has a serious illness that she is struggling to keep a secret, an old friend returns for a surprise visit, and one girl commits the ultimate fashion crime—she breaks another girls’ earring (gasp!).
Last Model Standing
Morning at the Red Tulip Building, and we learn that the girls are starting to wear thin as they operate on only a couple hours of sleep and bear the stress of competition. Several of the girls contemplate the respective weaknesses they must overcome: Xiomara wants to make up for her poor showing last week, Catie is unsure if she can hold up under all the pressure, and Jenascia’s shortness is still being seen as a liability. We see Jenascia tromp defiantly along the living room runway, shouting, “I’m short and I don’t care. Look how short I am!”
While everyone else’s weaknesses are readily apparent, one of the girl struggles with a problem that she is desperately trying to hide. Mercedes confesses that she has a chronic disease called lupus (for more information visit: http://www.lupus.org/), and the high doses of medication she must take everyday, combined with the stress of the competition, has been causing her hair to fall out. She doesn’t want the others to know about her illness because she wants neither pity, nor constant questions about her condition.
The girls are all heading out for an early morning workout with marble-mouthed boxing trainer Martin Snow. Despite being called for repeatedly, Camille sits in her room braiding her weave with the careful concentration of a bomb squad officer disarming a timed explosive. While Camille lags behind, the girls leave in the elevator without her, which of course royally displeases the Queen of Me, Me, Me.
They get to Martin’s studio and, per usual, he babbles incomprehensibly about fighting and toughness. About the only thing I do understand is that he is challenging the girls to a boxing contest, to see the “last one standing”. Some of the girls, like Catie and Sara, punch wimpily at the bag as if they don’t want to break a nail and go down fast, while others (like the final two) April and Camille, give it their all. Martin puts April and Camille on the same punching bag, where they duke it out with equal persistence. The girls start cheering, but only for April, which does not slip Camille’s notice. “Nobody was saying ‘Go Camille’,” she says over a shot of her punching the bag aggressively, and looking at the rest of the girls in the room with a look that would make Ali tremble.
Neither girl shows any signs of stopping, so Martin takes them off the bag and into the ring to settle this competition by push-ups. A voiceover from April informs us that, “I’ve learned in the past that…this burns, this hurts, but if you just deal with the pain, you will reap the benefits.” Camille collapses onto the ground, while everybody else applauds April. “I realized that not a lot of people are down with me,” Camille declares, while I wonder why it took this long for her to notice what everyone else knew fifteen minutes into Episode 1, and why April doesn’t get a prize for her awesome (not to mention exhausting) performance in the ring.
After the workout, TyraMail informs the girls that the next activity of the day requires them to get dressed in the outfit they feel best expresses their personalities. They head off to a mannequin showroom where they meet both Tyra and Simon Doonan, creative director of Barney’s New York and the individual “who made window dressing an art form”, whom Tyra says will be teaching them a “lesson about personal style”. Yes, this four-foot-nothing, wizened, old Englishman in a floral shirt that bears a pattern remarkably similar to one of my grandma’s tea cozies will be teaching the girls about personal style. He does make a good point: Simon says that in New York you never know whom you might run into, and tells them must think about what they’re wearing and the message it sends, at all times.
Tyra adds that the girls should think about what their philosophy in life is, and how they can express that through their clothing. She reminds them that when they walk down the red carpet, pictures will snap and be sent around the world, immortalizing mistakes and potentially landing you on best or worst-dressed lists. Tyra’s been on both, and is willing to own up to her own mistakes. She busts out pictures of times when she made herself look like “a damn fool”, such as the bikini top she wore to an awards show and the lavender bridesmaid-looking dress she donned to host an Oscar’s pre-show that earned her the nickname “Glenda the Good Witch”.
The girls are asked to stand and explain how their outfit tells a story about them. April gets up first, looking absolutely stunning in a tasteful white split halter dress, and says that she feels comfortable in her own skin and likes to show it. Simon says that this is not a “fashion point of view” and that April should be thinking about how she looks in the clothing (“groovy” or “hip” he suggests). Well, I think she looks damn fine, but I guess the flower-printed midget is the expert here. Mercedes gets up next, in a cute, romantic black and pink lace dress with pretty pink plumeria pinned above her left ear, and explains, “Because I grew up in an island community, I always wear fresh flowers in my hair.” Simon likes that, and says that is exactly the sort of memorable detail you want to have.
Sara’s mismatched style is greeted with reservation by Simon, who warns her about picking up “street style”; and while Shandi’s unique vintage look is okay with Simon, Tyra would like to see her in something a little sexier. Xiomara, in a sleek red bandeau, long black skirt, hat and hoop earrings, gets a big thumbs up from Simon and Tyra who like that she is in a look that she is “owning”; but Camille gets chided for her rote interpretation of the colors of the Jamaican flag. Simon tells Yoanna, who’s rocking a funky yet flirty black dress and fun dangly earrings, that of all the girls there she looks the most like a regular model that you would see in New York. “You look like a groovy, hip fashion model,” Simon tells her. Jenascia then stands, in a tight red t-shirt that says “What the duck?” with a little white duck printed on it, a short denim skirt, and a white newsboy cap. Simon says that while it’s clear she has a specific personal style, he feels she hasn’t “nailed it”. Tyra says that the short skirt doesn’t lengthen her legs, but makes her appear short still.
Catie gets up in a yellow strappy tank, a denim micro mini, and thigh-high legwarmers over black pumps, saying something about how this new look matches her new hair. Simon says, simply, “I think there’s a little bit too much hooker style going on…Go down where the hookers hang out by the docks, see what they’re wearing and avoid it.” OUCH! I’m no big fan of Catie’s, but even I feel Simon’s criticism is rather harsh here (although that didn’t keep me from laughing my ass off over it). Simon then lectures all the girls on how they need to learn to be self-critical and able to handle criticism from others. “Especially you,” Simon says, pointing a finger right at Catie, “You seem to be getting irate.” Catie turns beet red, and says, “You called me a ho!” Simon says he would never call anyone a “ho” and that he was referring to her “ho-style”. It’s an exchange that sets some of the girls, like Xiomara, Yoanna and Mercedes, tittering. You know what happens next. Catie’s face starts to contract like a scarlet sphincter, and out come the tears. You get the feeling that this is probably how Catie gets her way back home in Minnesota, but this earns her no sympathy from Simon, who chides, “You knew when you entered into this competition that you were not going to sit there for three weeks with an umbrella drink with everyone telling you how fabulous you are.” She denies it, but he says, “It sounds like you did.” The other girls (like Jenascia and Sara) express their shock and exasperation at Catie’s immature outbursts. Mercedes declares her “a little actress” that you have to “treat like a baby”.
This Time It’s Personal
Back at home, Mercedes is crying, but in private. She talks about her fears over having lupus, primarily that people will feel she is too weak to do her work. This only spurs her to work as hard as she can to achieve her dream. The girls then get TyraMail instructing them to get ready for a “wacky day with one of New York’s wildest designers”. They are then transported to the hot pink hotbed that is Betsey Johnson’s hallway. Betsey comes bouncing out in her trademark rag-doll hair, espousing the concept of “personal style”. She shows them some tape of her last fashion show, and points out one of the models who is dancing around on the stage in a sheer babydoll with a black G-string who spanks herself at the end of the runway. “This is what I want my next show to be like; I want all the girls to dance it up…” The girls watch and smile politely, but also appear to be frightened of Betsey, who looks and acts like Raggedy Ann on crystal meth. The end of the tape shows Betsey doing a cartwheel on the catwalk to conclude her show.
Betsey says that now that they’ve seen her style, it’s time to test theirs. They all head back to the apartment, where Betsey tells them that their challenge is to express their personal style, but the hook is they are not allowed to use their own clothes and are allowed only ten minutes to rummage through everyone else’s wardrobes for an outfit. April says, “Betsey’s trying to see if our personal styles can radiate so bright that it doesn’t matter what kind of clothes we’re wearing.” The prize is dinner out in Manhattan with a “fabulous guest”.
The race begins, and before you know it clothes are being whipped off, there are views of thongs-a-plenty (most notably Sara and April, who also had an agreement to use each others’ clothes), and clothes and accessories are flying about. Speaking of accessories, Camille asks Xiomara to borrow some jewelry, and Xiomara obliges her by handing her some bracelets and pair of beautiful Indian earrings. Camille says that because these didn’t match the dress she was wearing (April’s hot pink halter) she just left them on the bathroom counter.
Time is up, and the girls walk for Betsey on the living room runway. Sara starts, looking seriously cute in a bright yellow mini-skirt and black knee boots, and gives a little wink with her turn. Betsey claps and says that Sara could have been in her last runway show. Xiomara comes out in a t-shirt, a purple tutu about three sizes too small, and sneakers. She looks like a child that just came back from ballet class. She tries the cutesy dance walk, and gives a bunny dip accompanied by her “Children of the Damned” glare—it is not a pretty combination. Bless Xiomara, I love this girl, but she should never try to be cutesy. Betsey tells her that she should not try to do glamorous beauty, and aim for hip-hop style instead.
Camille walks out in April’s pink dress, with a big stupid-looking daisy tucked behind one ear, attempting a sexy slither. Betsey deflates her illusions of grandeur by saying, “It looks rough now, you just need that polishing.” Then it’s April’s turn; she looks cute in a little black dress, and tries to sex up her walk with a little “hot stuff” finger-lick at the end that isn’t quite successful. Still, Betsey cheers enthusiastically. This sets off a run of rather forced-looking cutesy poses: Yoanna giving a sort of goofy wink, Mercedes sticking her tongue out.
Jenascia then steps up in a really sloppy looking outfit, an oversized baseball cap, oversized peasant blouse, a skirt with an unnecessary scarf tied around the waist. She then gives what I think is a pretty fierce, if slightly attitudinal walk, with a ghetto booty dip at the end. Betsey then tells Jenascia that she doesn’t have a problem with her height, but that she needs six months of modeling school to get her walk right. “Six months of modeling school,” Jenascia repeats later, then closes her eyes and sighs deeply.
Miss Catie Catwalk comes out and does her thing, but Betsey remains unimpressed. “Not enough of the real you in there yet,” Betsey tells her. When Catie’s face flares up again slightly, I worry that she’s going to bawl again, but she doesn’t. Still, she doesn’t seem able to take any criticism whatsoever. Finally, Shandi comes out in an off-shoulder turquoise top and pouffy black skirt and walks a bit awkwardly. Betsey advises Shandi not try to be the “sexpot” that the other girls are, and says, “your strength is that you’re not that”. Ultimately, Betsey declares Shandi the winner because she sees a “potential” in her, and even through the clothes and heels “you couldn’t cover up your personal style”. Shandi is allowed to bring two other friends to tonight’s dinner, so she selects Xiomara and Yoanna. After much begging, Betsey concludes the personal style portion of the show with a jaunty cartwheel.
While Xiomara is getting ready to go out to dinner, she discovers that Camille has broken one of her prized Indian earrings. When Xiomara approaches her, Camille, unapologetic, just sulks like she’s the one being inconvenienced and makes a lame promise to have it fixed. Xiomara is actually angrier that Camille handed them back to her without even saying anything, and Camille snaps, “It’s my responsibility, I’ll fix it, but you’re just gonna have to wait.”
Meanwhile, in the phone room, Mercedes calls her mother and says that a lot of her hair is starting to fall out. Stress is bad for lupus, and of course the competition is incredibly stressful. She breaks down, and starts to cry (in contrast to Catie, Mercedes looks really pretty when she cries). Her mom is warm and reassuring, but Mercedes apologizes to her her, saying, “I don’t want you to feel bad ‘cause you can’t do anything.” After the call, Mercedes wipes her eyes and pats her face to try to get rid of any evidence of her crying before anyone sees her. “You know it’s not that bad. I’m living, I’m okay, I get tired occasionally, but I’m here and I’m going to do what I can to make it to the top.”
Shandi, Xiomara, and Yoanna look out the window and see a limo out front that they guess is for them. They hear someone coming up the elevator to the apartment, and finally the mystery guest is revealed: Adrianne Curry, whom as you surely must know, was last year’s ANTM winner. She looks fantastic in a deconstructed rock star t-shirt, and blinged out in diamonds from the new Sirena ad campaign she’s working on. She tells everyone what she’s been up to: Revlon, runway shows, et al. “I’m actually living what’s gonna happen to one of you,” Adrianne says.
Adrianne, Shandi, Xiomara, and Yoanna are then whisked away to JL on the Upper West Side, where they have the VIP room to themselves. Champagne corks pop, and so does the conversation. Adrianne asks whom they would like to be eliminated next. Without hesitation, the girls all sing a chorus of Camille. Xiomara recounts how Camille broke her earring, with such outrage and sadness that you’d think Camille killed her grandmother. Adrianne commiserates, but heck, I do too. You just don’t borrow a girl’s things and ruin them (flashback to high school and the hole my best friend put in my favorite sweater—Damn you, Genevieve!). “That’s what you deal with in the real world,” Adrianne say, “These bitches don’t care.”
They talk a bit about Catie’s “crying over being called a ho” then Xiomara decides to do an impression of Catie’s walk for Adrianne. What she doesn’t know is that meanwhile, back at the apartment, Caties is doing impersonations of everyone who’s not present—Xiomara’s cracked-out walk, Yoanna’s horse gallop, Camille’s hip switch—while the other girls laugh hysterically. Mercedes was right about one thing, Catie is a little actress, and she hits their walks dead-on.
Back at the restaurant, Adrianne regales them with tales of being naked in a pool with diamonds for her Sirena shoot, then leaves them with last bit of advice: “You have an amazing opportunity here, don’t screw it up.”
The next morning, the girls report to Industria studio for their photo assignment, which Jay tells them will help them learn how to take on the persona of someone else. The girls will each be transformed into famous celebrities and then photographed by star photographer Bruce Eccles. Jay announces which stars the girl will be made into (i.e. Catie/Marilyn Monroe, Mercedes/Billie Holiday, April/Catherine Zeta-Jones, Shandi/Nicole Kidman, Sara/Angelina Jolie, Camille/Diana Ross, Jenascia/Salma Hayek, Yoanna/Audrey Hepburn, and Xiomara/Grace Jones), and the only person who is unhappy with their star persona is, ironically, Xiomara, who denies noticing any resemblance between her and Grace Jones. Hello, we’ve all been saying this on the boards for weeks, honey! She gets so upset that Tyra has to come out and talk to her, explaining, “Grace is a fashion icon. She is someone that Janice used to work with.” Tyra manages to convince Xiomara, who then reports to Jay airbrushes her about five shades darker. “It’s like a personal project, him turning me into Grace.”
The first person in to shoot is Yoanna, who looks adorably gamine as Audrey Hepburn in a pretty pistachio colored sweater and pedal pushers. Jenascia comes out looking nothing like Salma Hayek, but looks gorgeous anyway in an elegant halter gown. There is some trouble getting Jenascia to pose correctly (especially to cheat some Hayek curves where none exist), leading Jenascia to make fun of all the directions being thrown her way (even from Tyra) and the photographer to mutter that it doesn’t seem like she has much experience in front of the camera. Sara is very sexy as Angelina Jolie, although the photographer keeps yelling at her to be “tougher” and “more intense”.
Back in the makeup area, Mercedes confesses to the camera that she is feeling really sick and tired right now, due to the lupus, but is trying to hide it. Xiomara is still being airbrushed by Jay, and still seems really unhappy about being Grace. Outside, Shandi looks every inch the classical beauty that is Nicole Kidman, and is recreating her Vanity Fair shoot. Camille is a dead-on Miss Ross, with the hair, the moves, and the attitude to match. April looks very pretty, not quite like Catherine Zeta Jones, but very pretty, and the photographer compliments her highly, calling her “that unique find that comes along every now and again.” Catie really does make a good Marilyn Monroe, and has fun doing some classic cheesecake poses in a gold maillot bathing suit.
Xiomara is finally up, wearing one of Grace Jones’ famous black shrouded bodysuit ensembles. Xiomara is clearly terrified, but puts in a good effort to look strong for the shoot. The photographer says it’s like going back in time, and the crew gives her much positive feedback. “I didn’t think I looked like her,” Xiomara says, laughing, “But now I know I do!” Mercedes looks utterly breathtaking as Billie Holliday, with gorgeous white flowers in her hair, and a glamorous 40s hairdo. She poses with a microphone, and looks beautiful, although the photographer notices that she is shaking, and reads it as nervousness. Mercedes admits that she was nervous, but adds that she prays to God everyday “to add a little oomph for me.” Looks like the big guy came through. She’s got enough oomph to get Jay to say, “Mercedes is just exactly what we need.”
After the shoot, the girls are still feeling the stress. Jenascia talks about getting over her “short complex”, and Catie calls her boyfriend, saying “The past three days have been the worst in my life, I just want to go home. I thought I would have this amazing life experience and…live to tell about it.” Sounds like Simon was right, she probably did expect to sit around with an umbrella drink and have everyone tell her how gorgeous she looks. Her boyfriend scolds her, “It sounds like you want to quit…My girlfriend’s not a quitter.” Maybe not, but she is for a sure a whiny, spoiled, little baby.
It’s elimination time again, and this week the girls file in wearing identical black strapless dresses. While I think they look like escapees from a Robert Palmer video, Tyra tells them they look like “sexified Catholic schoolgirls.” The panel today consists of Janice, Eric, Nigel, and guest judge for the week, Betsey Johnson.
Their challenge to today will test them on “their ability to accessorize you little black dress.” Why didn’t I have tests like these in college? On the table before them are nine stations, each with all the same pile of different accessories like purses, jewelry, hats, etc. In 60 seconds, they must get ready as if for a night on the town in NYC and of course show “personal style”.
Yoanna gets evaluated first, and her simple pearls, shawl, and clutch get a big thumbs up from the whole panel, as does her picture as Audrey Hepburn. April walks up next with a pink shawl wrapped around her neck. Janice says, “Lookin’ a little Kmart to me.” When they put up her CZJ pic, Eric blurts out, “Christina Aguilera?” The picture they sekected does look a little plastic-y to me, but Nigel loves her eyes in the photo. Tyra says she chose CZJ to avoid the obvious selections for April, e.g. Lucy Liu, Kelly Hu (I’d have liked to see that!).
Mercedes has too much going on accessory-wise, declared “Bad prom, baby,” by Janice. They even tell her to take it all off and go back to her station to re-do it, and when she selects a single black necklace, they finally approve. Her Billie Holiday photo is flawless, and Tyra points out that for each frame Mercedes instinctually gave something a little different to the camera. Shandi is also told to strip off most of her accessories, but everyone can tell right off that she makes a great Nicole Kidman. The only criticism is Nigel telling her she looks “stiff”. Sara also has over-accessorized, but her Angelina Jolie pic is a hit with everyone except Tyra, who says she had difficulty putting intensity into her eyes. When Camille is criticized for overthinking her accessory selections, Eric tells her it’s “not rocket science” but she talks back, yet again, leaving the room dead silent after she states, “I wanna be right.” But her picture is undeniably Miss Ross. “Essence, here we come,” Janice hoots. Jenascia’s accessorizing is “confused” and panned all around, but they do like her Salma photo. “Finally I see a little model coming through,” Janice declares. Catie does a good job with her accessories, but Eric and Janice think that her picture makes her look like a drag queen. Xiomara gets a mixed reaction with her gypsy mish-mosh, but everyone loves her Grace Jones picture. “Grace would be proud,” Nigel says.
The judges deliberate, reviewing the girls’ pictures and discussing their weaknesses. Nigel loves Yoanna’s face, but Janice says her Audrey Hepburn looks “possessed”. Tyra says that Sara “know how to work her body” but is “one note with the face”. They all agree that Camille resembles Miss Ross in more ways than one, and her diva attitude stinks. Jenascia is “still too short”; Betsey likes Shandi’s “oddness”; they think April is “too analytical”; and Catie is deemed as “not strong enough to cut it.” Everybody loves Mercedes’ photo; Eric comments on the “sadness” in her eyes. Tyra professes that she was “insulted” by Xiomara’s reaction to being transformed into Grace Jones, “I feel like ethnic women never want to be darker.”
It is the moment of truth, and Tyra hands photos out to everyone but Catie and Jenascia. Tyra tells Jenascia that while her Salma pic was beautiful but “if you have something a little less than others, you have to over-compensate.” She tells Catie that they’re concerned that she will not be strong enough to handle this business when things get tough. Tyra finally hands the photo to Catie, and the rest of the girls immediately go to hug Jenascia and wish her goodbye. “This house is totally gonna suck without me,” Jenasia says, through tears, “Now I’m gonna go back to slinging chicken wings at Hooters and back to my friends and being the happy person that I am.”
Questions, comments, chicken wings? Contact me at snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com