Modeling World Thinks Tyra's 5'7" and Under Rule is Crazy
When Tyra Banks announced the requirements for this year's cycle of America's Next Top Model, the final frontier of modeling taboo was breached; short models only are wanted. Girls over 5' 7" are not permitted to apply this season in the hopes that Banks will unearth a hidden gem with a "big personality," prompting derision from the American fashion community. Sentiments on this side of the Atlantic are not much more optimistic.
"What Tyra is doing really is a first," top modeling agent Ellis told Vogue. "There are exceptions to the rule, of course, there are models who have had a great career and are under that height - like Kate Moss - but they are the lucky ones. They would have to have something incredibly special about them to succeed at that height; an amazing personality, an unbelievable body - something that made them stand above all the other pretty, shorter girls."
Ellis has experience of pushing the boundaries when scouting and - as the agent who discovered Erin O'Connor and Alek Wek - has taken on girls who other agents were afraid were too "different" or "unusual". She recalls being asked, "Are you sure?" about both girls - but she felt strongly that both had that essential factor which made their look of the moment and desirable.
"I really have no preconceived notions when I go out scouting," revealed Ellis - who has just completed filming with Erin on a series called The Agent, set to air on RTE in the Republic of Ireland. "I am a great believer in fate and I never go out looking for someone dark, fair, commercial, edgy - I really just see who crosses my path. But, height-wise, I would not be looking for anyone under 5' 9" - 5' 10". That's the absolute minimum."
The record number of girls turning out to audition now the competition has been opened to more "average" girls may yet be reflected in the viewing figures and prove the experiment worthwhile, but whether or not the winner will become the first real "top model" the franchise has produced is another question.
"So far the winner's careers have been very disappointing," Ellis confides. "Very disappointing. But hopefully this time, because she has opened it up and tried something different, she may find someone really great."