The fashion icon, who died this week at age 73, made Top Model the show it pretended to be, says Allegra Frank. "Talley’s tenure on ANTM was something else, and he practically leapt from the television for young viewers like me," says Frank. "It lasted just four seasons, but it was a much-needed wake-up call for a show that had exhausted its welcome in Season 9, when the woman crowned Next Top Model was a 21-year-old with a personal connection to Tyra. Talley immediately brought a sense of gravitas, coupled with an infectious, innate love for the fashion world. In his assessments of the girls, he didn’t hold back from the occasional barbs that any good reality show character must drop—he regularly dubbed looks and photos as exuding 'dreckitude,' most memorably. But he also had a much more eloquent flair: He had 'cauldrons of love' for one girl; another looked like 'an ice cap-covered mountain.' Mostly, though, he walked in with a fedora and a cap, laughed a big laugh, praised the girls for looking like palace courtesans in their shots, and said that he wished to hang their photos in his salon. He saved fan-favorite contestants from elimination that the other judges found forgettable, but which Talley and viewers could never forget. (If you’ve seen that one GIF of a girl crying and fist-pumping, the context is that Talley had just voted for her to stay for another week.) He even brought the girls bouquets of flowers and drank Cognac with them in their hotel room." ALSO: Tyra Banks pays tribute to Talley: "Being in his presence was so magical. He made me smile, laugh and was a masterful teacher – a generous, genius historian."
TOPICS: André Leon Talley, America's Next Top Model, Tyra Banks, Reality TV