Well would you look at that: Top Model just got classy. For the first time, a winner of Tyra Banks’s supermodel-choked superseries gets a spread in Italian Vogue. There will also be a contract with IMG, one of the top modeling agencies on Earth. What’s the Italian translation for “Gee, fancy!”?

It doesn’t end there. Big-name designers, photographers and editors are also on tap. I feel suddenly unworthy; I shall fight this feeling of Cycle 2-style inadequacy by seeking a distraction. Oh, hey, thanks, Tyra! Tyra’s going to tell me a story. She got discovered when she was in ninth grade while sitting on a bench at Immaculate Heart high school.

[Full recap of Thursday's "America's Next Top Model" premiere after the break...]

Bring on the modles! Looks like Tyra has recruited high-fashion faces to go with her high-fash theme. Chris and Terra White are adorable sisters. Anamaria and Chelsey both have gap teeth like Lara Stone. Kayla looks so high-fashion that I wouldn’t be shocked if she had some Eastern European last name with way too few vowels. Ditto with a contestant named Jane.

The wannabe bitch this season is Vanessa, who was also a Miss Minnesota. The role of naive southern girl goes to someone named Emily; she’ll probably be the one to give us our requisite awkward racial moment. The quiet awkward stealth candidate is named Ann. Kacey, from Cycle 11 is back for a second chance. And -- ahoa, watch out for Kendal; she’s gorgeous on a stick. She’s never been to Palm Springs, which is the first destination this season. Sara could be a young Rebecca Romijn.

Jordan promises to be the Ren of this season. Someone named Lexie predicts Jordan is going down.

The Jays meets the girls at a fancy hotel and announces that they were grouped according to category -- quirky, sexy, “strong bone structure” -- and that whoever they just made friends with on the ANTM bus should make them nervous. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid. Still, Kacey and Lexie are tempting fate by choosing to bond.

Oh, here comes Tyra Banks. She essentially says that the whole competition is about high fashion and the girls best get their awkward on. They immediately segue into a walk-off, with the quirky girls living up to their name.

Mr. Jay is nonetheless please and declares that some of the contestants -- without naming names -- have potential.

Of course, within minutes, the girls are clawing at each other verbally. They circle like vultures around Jordan, led by Lexie and mastermided by Kacey. But the tables soon turn on Lexie as she’s called out for being catty; Lexie, of course, now resents aligning herself with Kacey. It’s all very hinkie, or maybe cattey, depending on which name we’re using as inspiration.

Kayla is the first to meet the judges, but her curls are so distracting she’s immediately ejected and asked to comb her hair. Once she does she actually looks like a model, which, in the fashion industry, means a person. Rhianna arrives next, dressed as a groupee from a Fleetwood Mac concert; the judges love her and her poses. She’s a contender, unlike Ester, who arrives in a pair of spandex Richard Simmons pants. She’s an observant Jew, and she also has enormous funbags, but the judges like her.

Chelsey was once told she was too fat to model. For the record she looks like a straightened out banana.

Like clockwork: Some girl named De’yana has found how that Emily doesn’t like black roommates. How did she find all this out? A third contestant read Emily’s diary. Still, Emily is the vilified party, and is predictably reduced to tears. She cleans up in time to look cute for the judges, only to burst into tears all over again when the judges grill her about the diary incident.

Liz is a man, baby. I mean not literally, not like Isis. She looks fine in a bikini; she declines to cry when asked about her life in the ‘hood. She is now my favorite. (Lexie holds back the tears, too, when asked about her background. Equal applause for her.) Jane’s Princeton education doesn’t impress the judges half so much.

Do we have to talk about Sara? I guess we have to talk about Sara. “I’m white but I can rap!” she declares. I’ll let you guess whether she’s being accurate. Now let’s compare her to Kendal, who is “pure” because she doesn’t “like semen.” She’ll come out eventually -- hey! Maybe even on the show!

Anamaria seems to be the one who really knows her models. But Ann is the one with the smallest waist and most Jurgen-Teller-friendly face. She is 6 feet 2 inches, however, and that, apparently, turns off model agencies. Terra and Chris are her opposite -- charming, adorable, close, confident.

Now comes Jordan, who declares her fellow contestants “tolerable” while modeling earrings of two different colors. She is no Miss Teen Minnesota, no sir. Vanessa is pretty and knows it, channeling Megan Fox like she does. She is also arrogant and will likely break down any second now.

Time for eliminations. And it’s a harsh one: The girls are brought to a party hosted by Cynthia Rowley. The party is visible to them, just a few feet away, but not everyone is invited. So who got cut? Miss Teen Minnesota. Well, at least she has her best friend -- herself -- to accompany her home. Emily the diary racist is gone, too. But the rest of the folk we’ve been discussing are in. Rowley bows her regal head to them in congratulation.

The finalists are divided into pairs for their first photo shoot. Each girl gets to pose with who the judges consider to be the biggest competition. The Rowley declares herself impressed.
But the cuts must continue.

The judges love Anamaria’s walk but not her camera work, in which Chelsey dominated.  Esther wins praise for knowing how to hide her knockers. Sara apparently reminds the judges of Gisele, while Kacey is called out for photographing less than fresh with her glasses off. Kendal, her greatest competition, comes off better.

Ann, she of the height and awkwardness, is championed by Tyra. Rhianna earns the nickname of Willow.

The final, finalist callout: Anamaria, Kendal, Rhianna, Chris, Jane, Chelsey, Liz, Sara, Lexie, Esther, Kacey, Kayla, Ann and Terra.

The sisters get to stay together. But Jordan must take her mismatched earrings and go home.

After the premiere, do you have any favorites? And what do you think of this high fashion theme?