So, “The Face.” This seems to be “The Voice,” only with models instead of singers and flimsy fake walls instead of spinning chairs. Also, the judges/coaches are way scarier.

Full disclosure: When I agreed to watch and recap “The Face” premiere, I conveniently forgot that I know absolutely nothing about fashion, modeling and the like. We can only hope that the modeling brilliance of Naomi Campbell, Karolina Kurkova and Coco Rocha can educate us!

The Wannabes

There are 12 young ladies who want to be models in this competition. Prior to the premiere, the three coaches divided their candidates into three groups of four. The teams are:

Team Naomi
Jocelyn (aka, Jaws)
Zi Lin (the Chinese girl)
Sandra (who is insane)
Aleksandra (the Russian redhead)

Team Karolina
Devyn (the single mom)
Madeleine (the Aussie)
Ebony (the mother of two?)
Christy (the… forgettable, apparently)

Team Coco
Margaux (with incredible bangs)
Brittany (yeah, no clue)
Marlee (pretty but lacking in expression)
Stephanie (the newbie)

Obviously, these girls are all beautiful and young and tall and thin. They also have an unfortunate tendency, when left alone, to dress like they’re on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” instead of “The Face.” But who am I to judge fashion? I still miss high-waisted jeans…

Test Shoots

If I understand the formatting correctly, each episode will begin with test shoots, a non-elimination challenge undertaken individually. For this first challenge, the theme is “Who Wore It Better?” The girls are split into pairs in order to accessorize identical outfits for the win.

Round 1

  • Party Girl: Devyn vs. Stephanie — Devyn over-accessorizes and Stephanie wins.
  • Business Casual: Sandra vs. Marlee — Marlee wins.
  • ’60s Girl: Margaux vs. Aleksandra — Not surprisingly, considering Aleksandra states, “I don’t know anything about the ’60s. I wasn’t born yet,” Margaux wins.
  • Army Chic: Ebony vs. Christy — Ebony wins.
  • City Girl: Zi Lin vs. Brittany — Even though Zi Lin can’t fit into the pants, her style still wins.
  • Biker Chic: Jocelyn vs. Madeleine — Madeleine’s shoes don’t fit and her resulting shoes give Jocelyn the win.

There’s no crying in modeling, people!

Round 2 (for the winners of Round 1)

  • Red Carpet: Margaux vs. Ebony — Margaux wears the awful pink dress best.
  • Downtown Girl: Jocelyn vs. Marlee — Marlee chooses nurse shoes, so Jocelyn wins.
  • Hippie Chic: Stephanie vs. Zi Lin — Zi Lin wins.

Round 3 (for the winners of Round 2)

  • Masculine Chic: Margaux vs. Jocelyn vs. Zi Lin — Despite Margaux wearing the biggest, squarest earrings in the history of the universe, Zi Lin wins for going sexy.

The Campaign

Now it gets serious. You can tell, because the host, Nigel Barker, drags the girls to the Brooklyn Naval Yard for some serious urban apocalypse action. Each team will have to create the final sequence of an Uptown vs. Downtown storyboard. The winning team will be featured in W Magazine (which they tell me is very important) and on Us Magazine’s website.

After trying on clothes and arguing about photo concepts, a scary black SUV pulls up. I was almost expecting men with semi-automatic weapons and face-concealing balaclavas, but it’s just the coaches. All three supermodels immediately change their teams’ concepts and then direct the whole thing.

It’s almost like this is more about them…

Then we get the photo shoot. During this, girls are yelled at for not being strong enough, making strange faces (Stephanie in particular is terrifying) and generally not being perfect.

A trio of guest judges arrive, choose the photo of Team Karolina, and immediately depart, never to be seen again. Just forget about them. They are not supermodels and thus do not matter.

The Elimination Rooms

On “The Face,” elimination rooms are neither places of euthanasia nor of pooping. Probably. Instead, Team Naomi and Team Coco enter their respective elimination rooms to learn who might go home.

Naomi is very disappointed in all of her girls for not winning. But it’s Aleksandra who disappointed her the most. Coco, meanwhile, is more of a cheerleader and seems almost apologetic as she sends the inexperienced Stephanie to her potential doom.

Karolina, as the winning judge, gets to pick who leaves. Although Aleksandra had a slightly better photo, Karolina decides that Stephanie wants this more. Aleksandra is thus sent packing — in “The Face,” this means removing makeup before a giant metal door slams down, crushing the dreams of one girl.

What “The Face” is really about

You may have thought, from the show and from this recap, that “The Face” is a show about aspiring models getting coached into success.

Nope. As the ending of the premiere shows, this program is about the egos and rivalries of the judges, played out with their wannabe pawns on a giant, fashionable chess board. Naomi Campbell makes this abundantly clear when she learns that her team-member, Aleksandra, has left.

“I’m very disappointed in your choice, Karolina. And all I’m going to tell you is it’s game-on from now on.”

Naomi Campbell scares me. But fear makes for great TV, right? Right? Oh, I do hope so. Otherwise, it’s going to be a long season on “The Face.”

Posted by:Laurel Brown