10 February 2010

Tyra Banks' New Judge Brings Fashion Street-Cred to 'Top Model'


Some think Andre Leon Talley’s upcoming stint on Tyra Banks’ America’s New Top Model is going to be a little surreal -- like finding a real Louis Vuitton bag in a street vendor’s cache.

Talley is a bigwig at Vogue, an industry insider who holds real fashion-world clout. As for America’s New Top Model? While its ratings are fat, its fashion-industry credibility is skimpy. Can you name a single winner who has ever gone onto real modeling success? Our point exactly.

According to the Huffington Post, Talley joins Banks for the shows 14th cycle, despite efforts by Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor in chief, to keep the lauded glossy -- and its stylish editorial team -- from co-mingling with reality TV.

According to Talley, 60, Banks first approached him about being a judge on the show about eight years ago. "At that point, I said no because it was the beginning,” he told Women’s Wear Daily. “I was thinking I wanted to see where it goes.” But thirteen cycles later, even though he still hadn't seen the show, he agreed to a stint, believing that "maybe I could contribute something to it that had not been on the show. I just felt that it was a way to step out of the box and associate myself with a very important American success story, a very important brand.”

It’s a move that Talley seemed primed to make. Last summer, he crossed the line into TV by judging a Miss Universe pageant. But Talley could very well be onto something. Consider a recent Huffington Post poll that asked readers if an ANTM gig was beneath Talley: Some 67% of respondents believed that it was “smart of Vogue to finally do some reality TV.”

Interesting, too, is Banks’ pursuit of Vogue’s editor-at-large for ANTM. Now that the former model, 36, is wrapping up The Tyra Show, her daily talk show, perhaps she’s focusing her efforts on her big money-spinning programs. Recruiting a weighty style arbiter such as Talley could end up helping Banks to discover a model who could actually land an elite magazine cover, and not just fade away into reality TV obscurity.

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