On last night’s episode of America’s Next Top Model, reality television’s best judge ever returned to his seat next to Tyra Banks and made his arrival extra glam by wearing a fabulous cloak of black sequins. Tyra was also quite “now,” clad in a one-sleeve Helmut Lang number. And everyone on the judging panel — even Nigel Barker — seemed all the more authoritative and intellectual thanks to the presence of the guest judge Diane von Furstenberg, the acclaimed and beloved designer and CFDA president. The challenge this week was for the girls to identify something they’re made fun of for, pick a power word associated with that insecurity to have painted on their bodies, and then pose wearing swimsuits and their power word.
DVF was the perfect judge for this challenge, because female empowerment is such an important part of her meme as a designer, and the driving force behind so much of her extracurricular charity work. One girl says, crying of course, that her word was “free.” DVF responds with so much sympathy, “Free is the most beautiful word you can choose because nothing is more important than freedom. And if you look for the freedom, then you will fly.” And of the girl who gets kicked off for being too skinny, “Beauty is health, and if you’re not healthy, you lose your beauty.” Meanwhile Tyra tries to turn ALT’s clever phrase “dreckitude” into “dre” or “dr” because she perhaps can’t find another way to express her thoughts on a particular photo. It’s funny watching her alongside DVF — if DVF is the Bergdorf of female empowerment, what does that make Tyra? The Kmart? Watch a montage of last night’s awkwardness and contemplate.