To hype last night’s premiere of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 15, the high fashion cycle, Tyra Banks and Andre Leon Talley treated editors to a lovely breakfast at Marea in midtown and sat down to chat with us candidly over scrambled eggs and the most delicious pecan sticky buns. (They also looked amazing–Tyra was in clingy gray McQueen shift, ALT was in Prada and Lacoste.)
You might think Tyra and Andre would be an intimidating pair (at least I did), but they are more like a comedy team. And we learned some valuable, hilarious, lessons from them.
Lesson One: Turtle before you smize.
The smize is undeniably important–cycle after cycle of Top Model hopefuls aspire to get it right, and few do. But before you smize, turtle. This goes for models and non models alike. Tyra demonstrated that when a photo is being taken of you head-on you must jut your face out, like a turtle, and the results will be amazing. Most people have a tendency to lean back and smile, which creates extra chins. The turtle thins our your face, and the camera will capture your best self instead your self with three chins. Just don’t get caught doing the turtle on a profile shot. Because then you’ll just look like a turtle.
Lesson Two: Bring your own lighting.
When photographer Matthew Rolston came to set as a guest judge, be brought along more than his camera. “Matthew Rolston came to set with this chic little bag and he sat down and it held his own portable lighting system. Not one, a bank of three lights,” said Talley. “Not even Marlene Dietrich did this. This was beyond. It’s a new trend. Forget your makeup, take your own lighting. It worked.”
Lesson Three: If you are ever looking to scare Tyra Banks, present her with a bird or a dolphin.
One editor asked Tyra which of the challenges of the last 15 cycles would be the most difficult for her to master. She didn’t hesitate: The one with the birds. “Ooh child, the birds!” she said. “There was one challenge where the girls had to be posed with birds. That is one of my worst fears. And cats, fish, whales and dolphins.”
Lesson Four: Cycle 15′s winner will have a high fashion career.
“My dream is for her to be a real high fashion girl,” said Tyra. “I want [her to be in] French Vogue and Italian Vogue and even Japanese Elle. I want her to be on the runway for Prada and YSL and Dolce and Gaultier and Balenciaga and McQueen.”
Because this season has a high fashion bent Tyra selected girls who fit the mold. “I’m attracted to the odd face, but there are certain limitations with having a show that was a little more commercial. Now it’s high fashion and I was allowed to have the ears that really stuck out and the girls that have more quirk that I’m personally attracted to.”