Talk of the Times


Narciso Rodriguez, Thakoon, Maria Cornejo, Tyra Banks, Lynn Hirschberg, and New York Times Magazine editor Gerald Marzorati

The NYTimes’ Times Talks series played host to an eclectic mix of fashion movers and shakers this weekend. Supermodel Tyra Banks talked about her rise from fresh faced teen on the Paris runways to media mogul. Afterward, designers Narciso Rodriguez, Thakoon & Maria Cornejo spoke about first lady Michelle Obama and her continued influence on the world of style.

While Tyra is now known more for her energetic TV persona than her modeling it was interesting to hear her speak of a time before the fame. From her start as a 16 year old self proclaimed ‘catalog queen’ to booking 25 shows in Paris her first season the highs were high. There were also lows including the news that the majority of the designers who initially embraced her as a lithe teen were no longer interested in working with her once she developed. From this point on Banks deliberately set about altering her image to suit her strengths and transition into the more commercial market. Her story is a tale of ambition of which modeling is only a small part and little tidbits like these serve to add depth to an image that has until recently been fairly one-dimensional.


Tyra’s Q&A gave insight into her life and times. The MObama centric-panel provided an engaging peek into the personalities of several of today’s most relevant designers. Cathy Horyn led a lively discussion on the politics of dressing the first lady. Some of the most memorable moments were the off the cuff responses of the designers themselves. From Narciso’s pointed diss at the old-school attitudes expressed by Oscar de la Renta to Thakoon’s talk about his use of brocade in his designs or Cornejo sharing anecdotes about her daughter’s style – the responses were fascinating and real. Even though the subject at hand was the much talked about style of Mrs. Obama, each designer brought something new to the oft repeated discussion.

  1. its a shame that Tyra’s high fashion career did not last as long as it should have. I know that now many people find her annoying but going back an looking at her high fashion stuff she was so beautiful. i wish the designers would have given her a chance to keep modeling high fashion. Good for her though using what she had, now she’s super rich.

  2. Alex:

    There is no “article”. These were 2 separate “talks” that were given at the NY Times’ Center; first between Tyra and a moderator, the 2nd- the 3 designers were moderated by Cathy Horyn.

    We gave you a summary..


  3. Didn’t we heard this from Tyra already? Great! She really does love to talk about the greatest subject, Herself!!!……………on the other hand, Tyra is really Beautiful! She did really transititoned from High Fashion to a Voluptous Glamazon! I still have her earlier Ralph Lauren Ads!

  4. To be honest this woman is making me sick.. I loved her. Naomi,Tyra and Yasmeen were my super heroes. But this ANTM circus and her talking about herself and her mama. I am so over her..

  5. I like Tyra. I used to actually love her before when she was just a model. If she focused on what needed to get done in the industry then she would still be modeling today and be just as big. I would like to see her, at her age, still booking editorials, campaigns, commercials, the works because she has earned all of that. I feel like, she ended getting a bit thicker and wasn’t booking anymore real work. Even though she was still with Victoria’s Secret at the time, she developed America’s Next Top Model which is fine. But now that show needs to go. There is NO way any of those girls will ever become supermodels in real life. That plus size girl Whitney? I mean, come on. Let’s get serious. I love Tyra and I think she is a great role model for woman and what she is doing now is what she really wants to do but I remember her once saying she wanted to leave the industry before they kicked her out. And in all honesty, she was kicked out way before she made the decision to leave herself. I don’t mean to be negative about Tyra. I still love her. I’de just like to see her lose the weight. Get back into that size 4, come back, and kick some ass. And for goodness sake, no need to keep talking about yourself and your glory days. Especially on the episode of Tyra Show will Chanel Iman. Didn’t know one damn thing about that girl because someone was trying to relive their glory days. Love ya Tyra!!!

  6. Lets be real here. Well all know the real reason why Tyra’s editorial career didn’t last as long as it should have; that reason is N-A-O-M-I. From the moment Tyra’s name began to spread in the fashion world, Naomi did every possible thing she could to get rid of her, from having her canceled from photoshoots and runways, to creating drama on sets when they had to work together. On one end, I can understand Naomi’s distress. At the time Tyra entered the modeling world, Naomi was already the quintessential black supermodel. Black models at that time ruled the runway, but were pretty much shafted from campaigns, contracts, and magazine covers. Because of this, only one black model at a time could really break through. The moment Tyra began to rise, Naomi knew that her days may possibly be numbered, as Tyra could easily take her place. As a result, she began to systematically destroy all chances Tyra had to break through to the top.

    On the other end, I believe it was downright cruel to destroy another model’s chances at glory. Who knows how many more Vogue covers or campaigns Tyra could have had if the circumstances with Naomi had been different. At that time, those supermodels had power beyond, unlike the supermodels of today. They got their way on many occasions, and if they wanted a girl canceled from a shoot, or an outfit switched at a fashion show, they could easily do it. I find it disgusting that the industry puts one minority model against another, but I also find it disgusting that one model could deliberately sabotage another.

    In restrospect though, who gives a damn. Tyra knew she could have much more success in a more commercial market, away from the ridiculousness and harsh high fashion world. She successfully made the transition, and exploded as the last great black supermodel. Yes, models like Alek Wek and Liya Kebede have made great strides in the industry since Tyra. However, the average person on the street may not know them. Tyra is a household name in every since, and THAT makes someone a true supermodel. Who cares if she doesn’t have as many Vogue covers as other supermodels. Given the much harsher realities black models face, a black model getting one is equal to a white model getting ten. Tyra was able to enter the homes of millions, and unlike Naomi, remained a positive role model for young girls and women.

  7. Hi

    I love this woman. I am Crazy about her, she is my favorite I love you tyra and I really like to meet you some day, despite knowing that this is an impossible dream to be justified but I will keep dreaming that this dream will become true someday.

    tyra you are great and deserve the best

  8. Kudos to Rob who said everything I wanted to say lol Tyra worked hard to get where she is now and during her heydays she kicked ass with magazine covers, commercials, fashion editorials and campaigns and off course on the runways worlwide and ya it’s a shame she decided/was forced to leave because of her weight or/and because of Naomi but look where she is now: many web shows, many covers and editorials, her own beauty empire, movies, books etc. I’m sure she made the right choice however I’d love to see her still model hard and good lol like Christy or Naomi or Kaate. Love ya Tyra :))

  9. Wish her and the original angels will have segment for the VSFS 2011. Honoring them for the legacy they have left for those that followed them.

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