After several long months without André Leon Talley’s weekly reminder that “dreckitude” is a much fancier word than “ugly,” Top Model is back. The sixteenth season began last night with a clever prank by Tyra, who tricked fourteen squealing girls into thinking they were going home, then revealed that they were already home — in the model house! In keeping with the show’s new serious high-fashion direction, model-slash-designer Erin Wasson made a guest appearance to dress the girls in T by Alexander Wang and her new Low Luv jewelry collection for a shoot with Victoria’s Secret photographer Russel James. This being Top Model the cool clothing couldn’t be modeled without some somewhat cruel but mostly hilarious gimmick: Last night, that was the giant clear plastic gerbil ball filled with red confetti that each girl had to walk in down a 12-inch-wide runway set in a giant swimming pool. (One might note that this was filmed before the Grammys, at which Gaga arrived in a gerbil ball of her own that she called an “egg” or “vessel.” Simliarly, ANTM had the girls all up in their meat dresses years before Gaga.) But the girls managed their vessels pretty well, with only two wiping out. The last fall was so severe that Miss Jay et al. looked on giggling as the poor girl flailed around hopelessly.
At panel, Tyra wore a graphic shirt emblazoned with the visage of the best reality television judge of all time, André Leon Talley. Not to be outdone by Tyra’s sartorial flamboyance, Talley himself wore a distinguished, feather-adorned fedora. Enjoy his brilliant insights and see the plastic vessel modeling in our video montage of highlights from the season premiere.