First Look: Australia’s Next Top Model Cycle 9

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Didier Cohen, Jennifer Hawkins, Cheyenne Tozzi and Alex Perry play judges and mentors in this new AusNTM cycle

We’re almost at that time where I get to plant myself in front of the TV, watching wannabe models battle for top spot, with a large glass of moscato in hand and an over sized plate of various cheeses and crackers in my lap – seriously, it’s my guilty pleasure!

April 30th will see Cycle 9 of Australia’s Next Top Model begin on FOX8 and this year, there are changes aplenty that not only shake up the competition but also makes me question just how personal the judges will be in their critiques of the models with some new-found power.

The first of the major changes is a new point system brought in to ‘fairly’ rank the models from best to worst on a week to week basis.  The girls will each earn points out of 10 for their mini challenge and their maxi challenge (photo shoot), with the model on the lowest amount of points sent packing.  As of writing, the three episodes I have seen to date, judge Alex Perry is the final judge to offer up his score, thus determining which model stays and which one goes.

So, a word of advice to the models – don’t piss off Alex Perry!

And while we’re on the topic of Alex Perry, he seems rather pissed off this season.  That familiar facial growl looks more darker than normal…I know he’s happy with the final 12 (he says it’s the best to date)..perhaps he’s trying to bring some sharp edged fork tongue to the panel but so far, 3 episodes in, Perry is yet to look like he’s enjoying his experience with the show.

Fresh off beating Naomi Campbell on The Face Australia, the ridiculously stunning Cheyenne Tozzi joins the show as a mentor along side regular Didier Cohen.  I don’t know if her time spent with Campbell on The Face gave Tozzi some coping skills but we see her calmly deal with models having anxiety attacks back stage at a catwalk challenge and erratic bitch fit tantrums over ill-fitting shoes at a photo shoot all-the-while offering words of wisdom and friendly critiques.  Didier Cohen is still the same however…not that that’s a bad thing.  The girls fawn, I fawn, he smiles, the girls smile, I smile…it’s a win win.

Tanahya, Alex and Kaitlyn are just some of the new faces this season.  Source: Fox8
Tanahya, Alex and Kaitlyn are just some of the new faces this season. Source: Fox8

With the sudden death of my favorite judge Charlotte Dawson, a judges chair has been left wide open, so Cycle 9 sees an injection of international faces on the judging panel (none of whom can match Dawson’s biting wit) with Victoria’s Secret angel Alessandra Ambrosio, TV personality Kelly Osbourne, fashion designer icon Jean-Paul Gaultier, Kim Kardashian (via video) and Tyra Banks among other names, all set for appearances.

So let’s talk those with their ‘smize‘ on the prize for cycle 9.  There’s your typical fare of gorgeous blondes and brunettes (Jessica, Phoebe, Lucy, Tanahya etc) and the one who’s stunning but Alex Perry finds too short (Alex), there’s your sweet girls with legs up-to their ears (Kaitlyn, Jordan, Lauren, Jess), your token bogan-turned-model (Brittany), the girl who knows shes fabulous but can’t walk in heels (Ayieda) and finally the if-she-were-anymore-laid-back-she’d-be-dead girl (Jess).  To be honest though, there’s no real surprises with the top 12 here, but then again, it’s a modelling competition so as long as the girls look good and can squeal with delight over famous folk, then there off to a good start.

Last but not least is host and judge Jennifer Hawkins.  With a full season now under her tiny belt, Hawkins now seems very at ease with her hosting duties and interactions with the models.  The awkward and uncomfortable banter from season 8 is gone, replaced with a more confident host who seems to have found her stride in getting the job done.

Thursdays first episode opens with ‘Top Model’ herself Tyra Banks praising our local version of the show, noting the numerous success stories that have come from the model search and touchingly, adds a beautiful message and tribute to our dearly departed Charlotte Dawson.

There’s no messing around this season as we jump straight into a final 12 selection who are thrown right into a catwalk in-front of 400 fashionistas.  Yes…there are tears and also a moment where you’ll be uttering the words “It’s like watching Bambii learn how to walk”.  Who will be the first model sent packing?  Who will win?  When will Georges Antoni turn up to grace my screen take stunning photos of the models?  Will Jean-Paul Gaultier whisk one of the models away to France? How much cheese will I have to buy to see me through the entire season?  It all begins Thursday April 30th, 7:30pm on FOX8

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