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Nigel Barker Wows Staples Teens

When Nigel Barker, a judge on the hit reality TV series "America's Next Top Model," appeared at Westport's Barnes & Noble on Wednesday night, Staples High School students Gaïane Offredo, Charlotte Tyminski and Haley Hopkinson were prepared.

"We were here since 4:30 p.m.," said Gaïane, 15.

Barker, a fashion photographer and humanitarian, talked about and signed copies of his new book, "Nigel Barker's Beauty Equation: Revealing a Better and More Beautiful You."

Not only did these three fans arrive two-and-a half hours early to secure front-row seats, which were directly in front of the signing table, they also came bearing gifts.

"We bought Nigel a notepad with the letter 'N' on it," said 14-year-old Charlotte. "For his [almost 2-year-old] daughter, we bought a baby book. And we got his 4-year-old son a 'Toy Story' activity book."

Complete with a handwritten card from the trio, the gifts were presented to Barker as he signed their books.

For Haley, whose favorite show is "America's Next Top Model," meeting Barker was something she'll never forget.

"I freaked out when Charlotte told me he was coming to town," said Haley, 14. "He's been one of my favorite judges since his first cycle."

Though she, too, is a fan, Gaïane had reasons for wanting to see Barker that went beyond his celebrity.

"I want to know every aspect of the beauty industry, especially makeup. That's the industry I want to go into," she said. "Both my parents work in cosmetics, so it's in my blood. It's my passion."

Getting to see and hear her idol in person has inspired her even more, she said.

"I loved everything he said. I even took notes," said Gaïane, who is starting an internship at Coty Inc. in February. "I really liked how he emphasized that everyone is beautiful. Like him, I see beauty in everyone."

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