While the final six (four Brits and two Americans) traveled to Macau--an island near Hong Kong, some of the season's biggest news revolved not around the models but the judges. In a shocking move, Top Model producers fired longtime judges/mentors Nigel Barker, Jay Manuel and J. Alexander. They will be replaced next season by several fashion bloggers.
Then Annalese was eliminated, and all came down to Sophie Sumner and Laura Lafrate.
British model Sophie Sumner is 21-years-old and from Oxford, England. She came in second on Britain & Ireland's Next Top Model's Cycle 5. On America's Next Top Model, Sophie has been in the top three a total of seven times, but only called first twice. Still, Sophie had never been in the bottom two (until only three remained).
Meanwhile, Laura Lafrate is a twenty-year-old model from Scotia, New York. On Top Model Laura received the first call out three times, and had also never been in the bottom two. Laura's wins (including a part in a Hong Kong music video) seemed to give her a slight edge going in to the finale--but her walk had never impressed the judges.
But how did it all turn out?
There were three elements of the finale:
- The Vogue Italia photo shoot was held at the Six Senses Spa in MGM Macau. While both received positive feedback Laura came across a little more comfortable than Sophie.
- For the CoverGirl lipstick commercial, the two models had to recite the commercial's lines, and producers also compiled candid photos and footage of them at various points throughout the competition which played over their dialogue during the commercials.
Nigel raved to Laura, "That was actual one of my favorite CoverGirl commercials we've ever done." But Laura had to be rushed to the hospital during the shoot and she couldn't finish filming her commercial until the next day. It turned out she'd had a panic attack.
- The runway show where the models wore Forever21 designs and did their turns on the catwalk in-sync with a lighted outline of their bodies and while interacting with life-like images. Timing turned out to be critical on this catwalk because if the models weren't in the proper places they couldn't even be seen by the audience.
Although Laura struggled less than usual with her walk it didn't raise to the skill of Sophie's. Sophie was particularly praised for her confidence in walking with a Samurai sword and Tyra added, "Your body language when you blew the dandelions was genius."
When it came down to it, Laura's biggest weakness--at least in the eyes of the judges (and perhaps CoverGirl)--was her panic attack. Tyra worried that Laura might have panic attacks more frequently than previously indicated. And the judges seemed to see the attack as evidence Laura isn't really cut out to handle the high-pressure world of fashion.
So, Sophie was named the 18th top model, becoming the first Britain to win the American version of the internationally popular modeling competition. In doing so, she wins a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl Cosmetics, a fashion spread in Vogue Italia, the opportunity to appear on Vogue.IT, a position as a celebrity guest correspondent for Extra, a recording single produced by CBS, a contract with LA Models and New York Model Management, and a role as the face of Top Model's new fragrance "Dream Come True."