As we indulge in the delights of Milan Fashion Week, from Gucci's ongoing glamorous affair to Prada's toned down chic, another cycle of 'America's Next Top Model' begins.
The show itself is often regarded as little more than hangover TV because, in all honesty, how many 'Top Models' has 'Top Model' actually produced? As it stands, one. Whilst many contestants and winners have enjoyed forms of success, only Australia's Alice Burdeu has managed to earn a career similar to that of today's top models.
It would seem that whilst contestants on shows such as, 'The X Factor' can rely on their fans in order to achieve success, the potential models of the 'Top Model' franchise must turn to industry experts, who have little desire to embrace girls with little idea as to who John Galliano is, let alone that his position in Christian Dior. However, as 'America's Next Top Model' enters its second 'high-fashion' cycle and influential guest stars become quite clearly commonplace, is it time that we take 'Top Model' more seriously?
The show under the likes of Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley and, of course Tyra, has returned to its roots; as opposed to luring in fame obsessed girls, it now attracts model hopefuls and fashionistas alike. The prizes are no longer merely good but coveted and envied by working models and teenagers alike - who in their right mind wouldn't want to feature in Vogue Italia? What's more is that the hopefuls now have high fashion bones in their bodies - one only needs look at last cycle's winner Ann Ward to understand that she has a Penelope Tree edge worthy of ready-to-wear runways and elegant editorials alike.
Moreover, where else would you find Patrick Demarchelier, Alek Wek and Erin Wasson giving advise to a selection of potential models?
Your local shopping centre?
I think not.
As opposed to dying out, it would seem that 'Top Model' has undergone a much-needed rebirth. Girls are no longer able to succeed without some knowledge of fashion - there have been and are models other than the likes of Kate and Naomi. The photo shoots are no longer a thread in a long train of wacky ideas but realistic situations, which allow contestants to build up professional portfolios, worthy of agencies such as IMG.
Moreover, viewers and contestants are now educated in the works of designers such as Alexander Wang, as opposed to the inane bitchiness of the 'Top Model' mansion - the franchise has suddenly been elevated into something exciting for both television and the fashion world. It gives girls, trapped in the outskirts of America, a chance to fulfil their full model-potentials and allows each of us to watch their careers develop and unfold.
Thus, I encourage us not to ignore cycle sixteen but to watch it. Determine which contestants will succeed in the cut-throat business of fashion and who will fail to surpass the gifts of genetics. My favourite is Lea T's long lost sister Mikaela Schipani: