Re-defining beauty to make a difference in the modeling industry

Re-defining beauty to make a difference in the modeling industry

She was one of the industry pioneers for the supermodels of colour in the 90s. At the time when she emerged, there were not many supermodels of colour. However, she was one of few who managed to make a name for herself and to become one of the faces of the minority community.

In 1990, while still in high school, Tyra Banks landed a contract with Elite Model Management, the largest modeling agency in the world. Later that year, she shot her first print piece for Seventeen magazine. After graduating from high school in 1991, Tyra enrolled at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, but decided to forego college when Elite offered to send her to Paris for high-fashion runway modeling.

She rose swiftly through the ranks of fashion modeling to become one of the world’s top supermodels. She booked 25 runway shows while in Paris in 1991, an unprecedented feat for a newcomer to the industry. But by the mid-1990s, Tyra began to gain weight, a forbidden sin in the world of rail-thin clothing models. Unwilling to starve herself to achieve the desired physique for high-fashion models, she decided to return to the United States and switch to swimwear and lingerie modeling, where curvier models are more welcome.

Tyra Banks

In 1996, Tyra became the first black woman to appear on the cover of GQ. A year later, she became the first African American woman to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, as well as the first black woman to be featured in Victoria’s Secret lingerie catalogue. She signed lucrative contracts with Cover Girl and Victoria’s Secret, becoming a staple of both companies’ advertising campaigns and runway shows.

“I made my living being 20 or 30 pounds heavier than the average model. And that’s where I became famous. Victoria’s Secret said I sold more bras and panties than anybody else, and I was traipsing down that runway with 30 pounds more booty than the other girls,” says Tyra.

She was listed People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People numerous times. Tyra received the prestigious Michael Award for Supermodel of the Year in 1997, and also won two Teen Choice Awards for Favourite Supermodel.

In addition to her modeling, Banks began pursuing an acting career in the 1990s. She made her debut in 1993 with a seven-episode stint on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and enjoyed a prominent role in the 1995 drama Higher Learning. In 2000 Banks appeared in a trio of popular films: Love & Basketball, Coyote Ugly and the made-for-television movie Life Size. Later TV work included appearances in Gossip Girl and Glee.

A Game Changer – An Icon of note!

She later turned her runway success into a multimedia brand and worked at the helm of two successful TV series simultaneously, ‘America’s Next Top Model,’ and ‘The Tyra Banks Show’, for which she won two Emmy Awards. She has continued to expand her business interests, launching her own cosmetics line in 2014 and hosting America’s Got Talent in 2017. 

In January 2016, Tyra and her long-time boyfriend, Norwegian photographer Erik Asla, welcomed a baby boy, York Banks Asla via a surrogate mother. However, a year later, Tyra and Asla called off their five-year relationship on amicable terms.

Banks is active in a number of social and charitable causes. One of her personal missions has been to help young women deal with self-esteem issues. As early as 1992, when she was only 19 years old, she funded a scholarship to help young black women attend her alma mater, the private Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles. In 1998, she wrote Tyra’s Beauty Inside & Out, a book aimed at inspiring young women, and a year later she founded TZONE, a foundation aimed at developing teenage girls’ independence and self-esteem.

“Girls of all kinds can be beautiful- from the thin, plus-sized, short, very tall, ebony to porcelain-skinned; the quirky, clumsy, shy, outgoing and all in between. It’s not easy, though, because many people still put beauty into a confining, narrow box. Think outside of the box. Pledge that you will look in the mirror and find the unique beauty in you,” says Tyra.

This year, the 45-year-old came out of modelling retirement and was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue after 22 years. Tyra wants to “change the world’s perceptions” of beauty and re-define it so she can make a difference in the industry.

And now, Tyra – who has changed her modelling name to BanX – has taken to her Instagram to reveal that she celebrates her curvier figure and wants to “re-define beauty” to help make a “difference” in the industry.

He has left a huge gap in the world of fashion and he we will be greatly missed

He has left a huge gap in the world of fashion and he we will be greatly missed

Karl Lagerfeld was one of the most prolific and widely popular designers of the 20th and 21st centuries. He died in Paris at the age of 85 on the 19th of February 2019.

He was a creative director, fashion designer, photographer and caricaturist who lived in Paris. He was known as the creative director of the French fashion house Chanel, a position held from 1983 until his death. He was also creative director of the Italian fur and leather goods fashion house Fendi, and of his own eponymous fashion label. He collaborated on a variety of fashion and art-related projects. He was recognised for his signature white hair, black sunglasses, fingerless gloves, and high, starched, detachable collars.

Below, André Leon Talley remembers his mentor and dear friend

I’ve known Karl since 1975; we met for the first time at The Plaza hotel in New York over tea with Andy Warhol. Karl mentored me in everything: French history, literature, the history of fashion, art. From our first moments, we were like the brother each of us wished we had, true siblings. Even on that first May afternoon, he invited me to his bedroom suite, simply to throw the most luxurious silk shirts from his Goyard trunks at me. I walked away with a wardrobe of beautiful shirts, his own, and matching mufflers.

Karl was a creative genius: self-invented and brilliant! In those days, he was the star at Chloé, the luxury ready-to-wear house. Karl loved writing letters and he designed his beautiful stationery. I would receive by express mail from Paris outsize envelopes with up to 30 pages of handwritten letters. Karl mentored me, and at the same time, we were best friends. I owe my advanced knowledge on the history of the French court to Karl. He exposed me to Nancy Mitford, and frequently sent me scores of books he thought I should read.

Every moment with Karl was a master class in refinement: the way he decorated, the way he instructed his staff to dress a table, the way he always sent his friends the most beautiful wicker tubs of roses. His personal and highly original way of sartorial dress inspired me for decades. Many of the Met Gala capes I wore were made and designed by Karl at Chanel. When he first landed the job, he made for me and for himself, in the couture, a navy bouclé wool jacket with four pockets and a gold gilt chain inside to hold down the hem! I still have the jacket, and so many jackets and evening capes he designed just for me. No other men, until recently, had the privilege to wear Chanel couture clothes. One taupe silk court coat had two very valuable 18th-century buttons with diamonds he bought as a surprise for me.

Karl was a king in the world of fashion. Not long after he landed the job at Chanel in 1983, he flew me over from New York, paying for the hotel for a week, and I saw the first collection he made. With it, he created the paradigm that remained Chanel until his last couture collection, shown in January.

When I landed in Paris in 1978, Karl and I were already friends. He helped organize my life, and our deep friendship continued. We had mutual friends, especially Paloma Picasso. For years, she was dressed at Chanel and Fendi. Karl threw her lavish wedding dinner, and I was right there, in the heat of the high-boil evening, alongside Yves Saint Laurent, who had dressed her in a Broadway suit and a bird’s nest of a hat for the day ceremony, and Karl himself, who designed the evening dress of cyclamen satin. The whole dinner was inspired by a dinner from the French court of the 18th century.

Karl was extravagant, generous, and very, very kind to his friends, until he had a rupture; then he would simply delete one from his life, cutting all lines of communication with no explanation. His kindness manifested itself in various ways, from loans of his 18th-century furniture to gifts of Fabergé diamonds, which he gave me for Christmas in 1989, the year my grandmother died. He also flew me on the Concorde round-trip to Paris, and I stayed in his country house outside of Paris for two weeks. Nothing was sloppy in any of his homes: Diptyque candles, the best sheets in the world, and all meals served at tables for lunch and dinner. One had to dress for each meal. He loved changing clothes, sometimes three times a day. Chauffeurs and cars were available for excursions to the local news kiosks.

Karl was a brilliant designer, writer, and photographer. He photographed one of my critical fashion satires: “The Wind Done Gone,” for Vanity Fair. Naomi Campbell was Scarlett O’Hara, Manolo Blahnik was a gardener or barefoot field hand, and John Galliano was a houseboy, photographed scrubbing the floor! For years Karl would call me to sit beside him in his studios at Chanel and at Fendi during crucial fittings. As he fired off verbal instructions to the seamstresses, he would turn to me and ask for my opinion. He trusted my taste, as essentially, I was the voice, the silent voice in the shadow. I could telegraph to him a positive suggestion, and he would decide to use, or not, my careful recommendations.

Karl and I could speak for hours by telephone; he loved late-night marathons. Often when I lived in Paris, we would ring each other at the end of the day, around 11:00 p.m. And he would always say, “Mr. Talley, how are you?” And I would say, “Mr. Lagerfeld.” Sometimes the conversation ended near 4:00 a.m.

Like Chanel, the woman who laid the archetype, he couldn’t find anything nice to say about another fashion designer’s work, yet he knew from memory every Dior and Balenciaga collection, the entire evolution and history of each venerable house. I know people were impressed with our friendship and that carried a lot of weight in the industry. He was my surrogate brother.

When I turned 50, he wrote a personal check for $50,000, during a Vogue preview. People gossiped, and many thought Karl and I were, or had been, lovers. We were not. We simply were two people from worlds apart, who found in each other alignments on all things that mattered in our lives. The most important person in his life had been his mother; in mine, it was my grandmother. He loved my point of view about everything except food. He listened to me, and we learned from each other. Trust is the word!

When Sylvester Stallone came to Paris, Karl put his fiancée, who is now his wife, in his catwalk line-up. When Chanel celebrated the 25th anniversary of Coco’s death, Karl orchestrated the show at the Ritz hotel. He took over the entire floor with the grand suites, and the models walked from room to room facing the Place Vendôme! Between the two shows Kate Moss, Shalom Harlow, and Naomi Campbell came up to my modest room and napped. Karl slipped in as they were resting and photographed them and sent the photograph to me framed, with a personal message.

I remember so many trips with him: to Tokyo, to Baden-Baden and the Black Forest, to Berlin on the last day of Christo’s monumental covering of the Reichstag, entire summers in Monte Carlo, and, in 2000, four weeks in Biarritz. I will always have extraordinary memories of walking in the valleys with this towering giant, a king, a genius, and a great friend!

The last time I saw him was two years ago, when Stephen Gan threw a swell party at The Boom Boom Room. Naomi Campbell came in her vintage Fendi dress designed by Karl. Mariah Carey serenaded him from the stage as a surprise. It was like the halcyon days. I will always remember this man as a friend. And as one of the giants of my life in the chiffon trenches.

-END –

Queen of Catwalk

Queen of Catwalk

It’s been over 30 years and she is still dominating the runway. The catwalk queen, and fashion icon, Naomi Campbell made sure her return to the Valentino runway was big. Not only did the supermodel close the brand’s Spring 2019 haute couture show today, she did it in high style, wearing a billowing gown that featured a completely sheer bodice and statement-making sleeves. It’s been 14 years since the 48-year-old took to the runway for Valentino and this outing was one way for the veteran to show the world that she’s still got it. It was quite a daring way to end the show. She totally shut it down!

The black Pierpaolo Piccioli creation featured rows of ruffles on a drop-waist gown and a turtleneck top that was completely sheer. Big, bold sleeves added some interest, but there’s no taking away from the fact that Campbell was on full display in the design. 

Naomi is one of the most iconic figures in the fashion world to this day and one of the few African American supermodels at the time. She broke barriers for women of colour in fashion. The London born supermodel caught her break when she was 15 years old. She has graced the covers of more than 500 magazines during her career, and has been featured in campaigns for Burberry, Prada, Versace, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana,
Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino.

She was the first black model to appear on the cover of TIME magazine,
French Vogue and Russian Vogue as well as the first British black model to appear on
the cover of British Vogue. The runway was her domain as she showcased the collections
of top designers, including Chanel, Azzedine Alaia, Christian Dior and Versace.

 “It’s all about personality. Boy, have I learned that during my career! Over the years, my personality has most likely caused me to miss out on some jobs and opportunities, but I also know that my strong personality has helped me secure a spot on some of the biggest runways in Paris, land major magazine covers, get hired for international advertising campaigns, and experience lots of firsts as a black model. It’s my personality that has set me apart from other models and land big campaigns — everything from Prada and Dolce & Gabbana to Dunkin’ Donuts and Milk. I think personality is more important today than it was ever before, because big brands want models to do more than simply pose for photo shoots — they want their models to appear in TV ads, conduct media interviews, connect with consumers on social media, and really communicate to customers and sell their brand! Having the right height, size and look will only get a model so far; having a strong personality and being charming and relatable will help a model land big jobs and become a household name,” she says.

She executive produced and appeared as a supermodel coach on Oxygen’s acclaimed series “The Face,” In her role as executive producer, she brought in key fashion designers, photographers, publications, products and contest partners, and created unique, real-life opportunities for the contestants.

Naomi Campbell continues to be a formidable force in the world of fashion and has used her success to establish herself as an entrepreneur whilst always helping others in need through her charity work.

Last year, Naomi hinted at retirement during the Fashion For Relief gala in Cannes: ‘I don’t know if I can walk much longer, it’s been 32 years.’ She went on to discuss passing on the baton to her younger counterparts: ‘But it’s an honour to walk… I’d love for it to be carried on by the younger generation and for me to sit in the audience and watch.’

One of her super fans took to social media and said, “The prospect of a modelling world without Campbell is daunting, as unlike most of the supers, she never fully left the industry. Where many others have taken time off to raise families, rebranded their careers, or simply faded into obscurity, Campbell has nearly remained a constant. Still as relevant now as she was in her ’90s heyday, her career sits at the pinnacle of the industry, from opening doors for black models to serving as a muse for the best designers. To this day, she gets a standing ovation when she deigns to walk a show and makes headlines with each new project.

Pic by : Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images