AFTER a year's hiatus following the death of Charlotte Dawson, Australia's Next Top Model returns to our screens next week.
The reality modelling show gives 12 aspiring young women the chance to win a modelling contract and invaluable industry experience through weekly photo shoots and challenges.
Rather than replace Dawson on the judging panel, host Jennifer Hawkins and judge Alex Perry will be joined by a different guest judge each week.
"We couldn't find one person to replace Charlotte," Perry told APN.
"So we got 10 people to do what she did. We really missed her on the audition tour. The fact that she wasn't there was so glaringly obvious to me on the first day of shooting. Her absence was really felt."
Top Model franchise creator and US host Tyra Banks also pays tribute to Dawson in the premiere, dedicating the ninth season to her memory.
Guest judges include Banks, Kelly Osbourne, Jean Paul Gaultier, Kim Kardashian and Alessandra Ambrosio.
"It keeps it fresh and gives a different perspective," Jennifer Hawkins said. "There was someone new every week to banter with and team up with me against Alex (laughs)."
A new scoring system means the judges will give their scores directly to the models, which Hawkins called a "raw" experience.
"I think it was a really good chance to follow through with your comments," she said. "There are no vague answers; everybody was accountable for what they had to say. The girls really got a gauge for where they were at in the competition. I really enjoyed that process, but it was still raw."
Perry said this year's top 12 contestants were the most promising group in the show's nine-year history.
"As a whole, when you look at these girls and watch them being filmed, they're the strongest group," he said.
But that doesn't mean they walked on to set ready for the catwalk or casting calls. They still needed plenty of help from returning mentor Didier Cohen and new mentor Cheyenne Tozzi.
"The girls are confident when they walk around, but the minute you get them there (at a photo shoot) they close up," Perry said.
"I think it's an age thing. Most girls grow out of that, but it's frustrating when you watch it and you go 'I think they're going to be amazing' and then you get these pictures and they look like startled little bunnies. It's like 'Oh if you could just forget it and relax'."
The diverse group includes a tomboy who feels more at home driving tractors to a Queensland housekeeper.
Australia's Next Top Model debuts on Thursday at 7.30pm on Fox8.
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