March 10, 2009

Class It Up, Tyra

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Since you might not be buying new Trina Turk tops and Tory Burch sandals for spring break this year due to the recession or a yanked trip to Mexico, I am going to rant this week about America’s Next Top Model. Yes, this is a fashion column geared to the Cornell community, but I thought that in the spirit of vacation I’d take a break from ripping into the campus clothing mistakes. So this week, feel free to fake ’n bake or wear leggings inappropriately without risking a call out on your orange glow in print.
So we all love reality television; it’s trashy, scandalous, entertaining and the end of normalcy as we know it. But what distinguishes what I like to call America’s Worst Models, from the rest of the reality television shows, are Tyra Banks and her awful posse. Supposedly experts in their field and in the fashion industry, I don’t think they represent the world of high fashion very well. Exhibit A, judge and Queen of the Catwalk, J. Alexander a.k.a. Miss J. might be the biggest violation of high fashion. Has anyone looked at his outfits?
They are absurd — they make my tight Beatle-esque jeans look like a track-suit from FUBU. Now RuPaul was amusing and great, but she never claimed to be high fashion —drag usually isn’t — but Miss J does not seem to have the same understanding. In one episode this past season Miss J wore what was basically the top of a clown suit. Little did he know: the joke was on him. He has also sported a vest with all the models names on it, ripping each name off like a bad Band-Aid® when eliminated. Hardly a representation of friendly competition. If I had a vest like that, I’d rip his name off first.
Next to be ripped off the hideous vest would be our judge and make up artist, Jay Manuel. Now although he might be absolutely excellent with a bronzer brush, looking like X-Men character Storm does not establish credibility (his excellent skin might be a testimony to those bronzer skills). His outfits are a little over the top. He consistently matches items that have a lot of character and sparkles with items that scream even more — not good, I tell you! Although odd hair colors don’t look good on Jay Manuel, this is not true for all; Vivienne Westwood is one designer that has orange hair but knows how to blend it in and has the personality to sport such a look.
Tyra Banks. We all know the name, some of us love it and some of us hate it. Now apologies in advance if you are one of those who love her, but her television personality is almost unbearable. Yes, at one time she was a supermodel and she has a great deal of knowledge to share, but sometimes she goes over the top. As an ex-supermodel, who hasn’t been acknowledged in magazines for looking good recently, she certainly shouldn’t act as high and mighty as she does. For the past few years, it seems as though she can’t shut the hell up because she is going on a long escapade to prove she once was important. Key word: “once.” What is sad for me is that I remember her as that skinny model with a fierce look on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Now all I can think about is listening to her complain about anything and everything. Wait, for a moment it almost sounded like me and The Bias Cut, but I know you appreciate MY complaining. I mean, you have to right?
But honestly, if Tyra really can choose America’s Next Top Model, why have none of them become an American top model?
Now on to the posse member who almost redeems the rest of them, fashion photographer Nigel Barker — the Simon Cowell of America’s Next Top Model. What I love about Nigel is that his criticism is usually on point; he doesn’t act above any of the models and his clothes are fabulous (and I’d argue he is the best looking with that British charm). Being a very successful model himself, Nigel provides feedback in a way that Tyra should try to: a little more focused on the model with a little less talk about her glory days.
Although America’s Next Top Model can be addicting because of the drama, as a “competition” it does not exemplify “high fashion” in the way Project Runway does with its simple, intelligent and actually fashionable judges. Also, our little community is just like America’s Next Top Model — entertaining but not the most fashionable. So please, Vogue it first.