Top Model 7's finale began with the show's three remaining girls -- CariDee, Melrose Bickerstaff, and Eugena Washington -- participating in a national television commercial and photo shoot for CoverGirl Outlast Double LipShine. Before the shoots, Top Model 6 winnerDanielle Evans -- now rechristened "Dani" by her modeling agency -- gave the girls some tips.
While CariDee and Eugena also struggled with the delivery of some of their lines, Melrose was the one who had the most difficulty with the commercial. "Just leave this all in here and give me a [great] photo," Jay Manuel urged an upset Melrose after her commercial shoot ended. But despite Jay's encouragement, the 23-year-old San Francisco fashion designer continued to fret about her disappointing commercial performance. "I couldn't even say the product name right," Melrose cried as a hairstylist prepared her for the print photo portion of the shoot. "Melrose needs to learn how to let it go and to stop self-evaluating," Jay explained to the cameras.
The next day, the three girls faced the judges for the Top Model 7's eleventh elimination. CariDee's photo was the first one revealed by Top Model host Tyra Banks, leaving Melrose and Eugena in the "bottom two." In the end, the judges decided that while Eugena had performed well in the Covergirl shoots, the judges still weren't sure that she really wanted to be a model.
"[You] started off so roughly but... about three weeks ago we started seeing beautiful pictures but the judges aren't sure if you really want to be here, if this is your passion," Tyra told Eugena before she revealed that the 21-year-old Palmdale, CA resident had been eliminated from the competition. "Look at this [photo], that's not great," Tyra told Melrose after revealing that she had made the competition's Final 2. "But you have a history with this competition of producing some fantastic pictures and right now something is happening and making you fall apart."
After Eugena's elimination, CariDee promised her that she'd defeat Melrose, their common rival. "It's okay baby, it's okay, I'll get this for you, I promise," CariDee whispered to Eugena as the pair shared a goodbye hug that Melrose briefly attempted to awkwardly join in on. "I just wished that my performance spoke for itself instead of actually telling them but sometimes you have to say what you mean and how you feel," Eugena told the cameras after her elimination. "If I didn't want to be here, I wouldn't have made it this far so I'm pretty disappointed. [I'm] disappointed in myself that I didn't explain myself better."
The day after Eugena's elimination, the "Battle of the Blondes" began with CariDee and Melrose shooting the Seventeen magazine cover photo that would be part of the prize package awarded to Top Model 7's eventual winner. Melrose seemed to recover from her previous shoot's struggles and both girls seemed to do well. "CariDee is more than just a pretty face, I feel like she's strong girl, she's a confident girl, she has come out... [however] Melrose has a a very unique look -- she doesn't look like just any girl -- and I think that could work to her advantage" now former Seventeen editor-in-chief Atoosa Rubenstein told the cameras.
After individual "brain picking" sessions with Tyra and life coach "Dr. Michelle," CariDee and Melrose met Jay Manuel at Park GŁell, a grand Barcelonan municipal garden that would serve as the site of the girls' final runway show. Once there, they discovered that their final challenge would require them to pretend to be "ghostly brides." "As the show progresses, each walk will be more theatrical and for the last walk basically you guys are going to come tearing around the corner like mad women... this is all about craziness -- back and forth to the end, you're in your own cuckoo crazy world," Jay explained to the girls.
Other than some minor drama resulting from CariDee accidentally stepping on and tearing the train of one of Melrose's dresses, both girls got through the runway show without issue. But when it came time for Top Model 7's final elimination ceremony, the judges made it clear that they felt that Melrose had been the one who performed far better. "Melrose, you excelled, that is a model working on the runway, CariDee, your performance would never book a fashion show," Tyra told the girls before the judges began their final deliberations.
However in the end, the judges decided that CariDee's strong CoverGirl shoot performances and overall body of work more than made up for her poor final runway performance and "loose cannon" personality. "This is not easy, both of you have amazing strengths and both of you have some weaknesses," Tyra told the girls before announcing CariDee as America's Next Top Model 7's winner.
"Oh my god... where's my alarm clock, I need to wake up," a tearful CariDee sobbed after Tyra revealed her victory. "I won, I did it, I'm a CoverGirl model [and] I'm going to be on the cover of Seventeen magazine -- I'm so excited, my dream was always to always be a model... and having psoriasis always prohibited me," a more composed CariDee gushed later. "I'm America's Next Top Model baby, ya!"
"I need to be proud of yourself, you did really, really good," Tyra consoled Melrose after CariDee's win was announced. "I'm pissed, I put my heart and soul into this and it wasn't enough, and I got called a bitch the whole way through it," a crying Melrose later told the cameras. "It sucks, I feel really misunderstood and I'm sad... it's just 'Bum City' right now"
As the competition's winner, CariDee will receive a contract with Elite Model Management, a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl, and a fashion spread and cover in Seventeen magazine.
(Photo credit The CW)
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