Annaliese — aka "Excite-To-Buy", aka "Chocolate Brownie" — had the least shocking elimination of the season. Ever since AzMarie left it was just a matter of finding third, fourth, fifth on down until it was a final two of blonde "Zagilicious" Laura LaFrate vs. pink "Illuminata" Sophie Sumner. Sophie rocked the Hong Kong heck out of this week while Laura … was Hong Kong phooey.
But as the final American and reigning top photo champion, there was really nothing Laura could’ve done to get herself eliminated. This week was just a formality, which is kind of annoying since next week’s episode is just a highlight reel. The Laura vs. Sophie finale — including a fashion show for Forever 21! — won’t air until May 30.
Anyway, in lieu of a traditional recap, we’ll be ranking the girls (and judges — we see you, too!) based on their go-sees, photos, attitude, and all-around fascination level. Check out our ANTM Power Play below, starting with our Top Model loser.
Ranking: 7, The Sexy Nigel Barker Rank on show: Judge and noted fashion photographer (un-ranked) Nigel seemed underwhelmed by everything this week. Even praising photos, he sounded mid-yawn. Maybe it’s because the guest judge, Jez Smith, was his “twin,” as Tyra Banks put it. Did the other hot bald photographer steal his thunder? Nigel and Kelly actually switched positions this week — Nigel batting for Team Laura and Kelly going for both Team Sophie and Team Annaliese. Nigel said Sophie’s Dream Come True fragrance shot was stunning and she’s a good model and photogenic. But meh. "Is it young, is it youthful? Not so much. It's more of a sort of ‘Oh I'm a princess, Oh I'm a fairy.’" He wanted more humor in her face instead of it being so ethereal. Nigel said in terms of the fun, youthful fragrance brief, Annaliese’s photo nailed it the most, but she looked more like a tennis star than a model. He praised Laura’s shot as gorgeous, very, very beautiful, ethereal and feminine. He didn’t care as much as Kelly that it skewed older, saying a teen’s mom may want to buy it to look young, fresh and a little rock ‘n’ roll.
Ranking: 6, Jez Smith Rank on the show: Photographer and guest judge (un-ranked) Jez Smith was the fragrance shoot photographer this week, but Ben Bennett of Hatch Beauty created Dream Come True, and he was described as the client on set — so why wasn't Ben the guest judge? Anyway, Jez did contribute quite a bit at panel, which is good. He noticed Annaliese’s bubbly personality on set and wondered where her excitement went when she got in the giant bottle. (Maybe she realized she was trapped in a giant bottle?) He found her photo flat with none of her real personality. Jez said Sophie immediately got the joy and elation required and did a great job. Jez said Laura took a beautiful photo and looked like a goddess, but the client wasn’t happy about how she couldn’t drop the sex.
Ranking: 5, Tyra Banks Rank on the show: Host/creator/diva (un-ranked) Tyra looked gorgeous at panel this week. Weirdly enough, Laura did not. Usually Laura is the most chic modelstant at panel, but even Tyra hoped Laura didn’t go on go-sees looking like that crazy pirate. Tyra said Laura’s photo made her want to buy the perfume, but she's not the target demo. Everyone thought Laura’s photo skewed older, but Tyra said 18-year-old girls want to look older, so they might like Laura’s shot. Tyra said of Annaliese’s photo, "I'm feeling a little Michelle Obama meets Venus Williams meets an ad for a catalogue." Her smiled saved that picture from being disastrous. Tyra didn’t say anything about Sophie’s shot, for some reason. Why not?
Ranking: 4, Kelly Cutrone Rank on the show: Judge (un-ranked) Kelly paired the girls up with male models, sent them on go-sees and paid them a bunch of Hong Kong dollars on a ferry. But what she gets major points for is this speech to Annaliese: "I have to say that you really won me over this week. I was really, really proud of you on the challenge. It was nice to see you on the boat. It was nice to hear the comments from the designers. I think you've really, really come a long way and I'm very, very, very proud of you." Yay! However, she thought Annaliese’s photo looked like a jewelry catalogue holiday bridal ad. She didn’t think the average 18-year-old in middle America was going to want to go out and buy the fragrance, but at least it was more youthful than Laura’s. Kelly adores Laura, but this week she said of Laura’s perfume shot, "This looks more like an ad for a plastic surgeon's office on Park Avenue. You are embodying what every 50-year-old woman who wants to look 25 is going to buy." Kelly liked Sophie’s shot, saying this was more youthful than what they've seen from her. But she would’ve liked to have seen the dress up, like "I'm hot, I'm fun!" Kelly told the other judges she loves Sophie's silhouette and torso and what she's doing with her hands. "She's a model."
Ranking: 3, Annaliese Dayes (UK) Rank on show: Eliminated Annaliese knew she was the underdog and she was just amazed to just get this far. You could argue she deserved to go further since she did pretty well this week, booking three out of four go-sees and actually getting the tone right for the Dream Come True fragrance ad. On the go-sees, designer William Tang gushed over Annaliese, saying he loved her skin tone. Annaliese loved being the last black girl in the competition. "Sophie and Laura and the blondes can scoot over that way because Chocolate Brownie's here." Ha! Gregory Derham said Annaliese was "wonderful” and had bounce and sassiness. Henry Lau found her pose shaky and he had her walk three times without liking what he saw. Marisa Zeman loved Annaliese's hair and wild look. "Annaliese was my favorite of all of them. I would definitely book her." (But Sophie got Marisa’s Nude is Rude campaign.) On the photo shoot, they had to shoot more than 200 frames of Annaliese before getting what they wanted. She froze up. But at least she won Kelly over and she wore the cutest UK flag dress at panel. That’s going out on a high note!
Ranking: 2, Laura LaFrate (US) Rank on show: Finalist Laura feels like she wants to win this the most, and she wants it for her work not just because she's American. But she hates go-sees, has a stiff walk and was too sexy in her Dream Come True fragrance photo shoot. (Where is Eboni’s ridiculous “30 Never” branding when you actually need it?) Last week’s tower challenge was a lot easier for her. When she thinks of a dream come true she doesn't think of being confined in a box in a frilly pink dress. "I'm not a princess. … I used to burn the heads of my Barbie dolls." Yes, she’s not a princess, she’s a model and needs to be able to show range. Ironic that Laura complained about a box when her main issue this week was being trapped in her own edgy/sexy/rocker box.
She booked half the go-sees, which isn’t bad but it was worse than Annaliese and Sophie. Three of the designers noted that she needs help with her walk. (Bring in Miss J. Alexander, runway diva extraordinaire!) Her fragrance photo shoot started out dreamy and became sexy, although it still looked amazing. "The legs came up and I'm like 'Ooh there's a stripper pole coming down in a minute,’” Mr. Jay noted. Client guy Ben said the perfume is for the young and the young at heart and the joyousness was missing from what Laura was doing in the beginning. Annaliese said Laura could still win because she's American and she takes great photos, but ANTM is a role model to a lot of really young people and throughout the competition it's been "sex, sex, sex, sex and a little bit more sex." ANTM might be a little tainted by that.
Laura ended up going through instead of Annaliese because, as Tyra put it, they feel like she’s the whole package — modeling potential and personality that stands out. But they’re terrified about her walk. Since the finale includes a runway challenge, it’s a good opportunity for Laura to show vast improvement, impress the judges and seal the win with that progression. Ranking: 1, Sophie Sumner (UK) Rank on show: Called first, finalist “You will be the face that flies over Hong Kong.” That has to be cool to hear, right? Sophie won the go-see challenge this week and got first photo, so she’s back in the frontrunner position as we head into the finale.
As Sophie and Annaliese both noted, go-sees are a good representation of the real world of modeling. That’s Sophie’s strength in the competition: If she wins, they won’t just be anointing someone in theory, they know she can get work. She “charmed the pants” off all four designers, Kelly noted. She was actually named the face of Marisa Zeman’s Nude is Rude for the entire year, with her face flying over the city. To book everything, she had to show range — romantic, theatrical, simple and street. She won $4,000 Hong Kong dollars … and spent it all in 5 minutes.
During the photo shoot, Jay said Sophie’s energy was up and she felt creative. "It was magical, it was pretty." Client guy Ben felt there was a lot of repetitiveness, but there were some good things. He seemed more into her than sexy Laura. Jez said this was made for her; her natural energy is upbeat and girly and soft. That’s pretty big since the winner will be the face of the fragrance. Kelly said a lot when she summed up Sophie’s photo with "She's a model." Yes, but is she America’s Next Top Model Who Happens To Be British?
Catch the next episode of ANTM Cycle 18 on Wednesday, May 23 at 9 pm ET/PT on The CW. It’s a highlight reel episode with the cycle’s top moments. The finale airs on May 30.
Gina Carbone is a contributing writer at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @ginacarbone.