Tyra Banks’s Journey Back to High Fashion

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The McQueen shoot on Tyra.com. Photo: tyra.com

Yesterday, the CW announced that America's Next Top Model would cut ties with Seventeen and align with Italian Vogue as a magazine sponsor. It can't be a coincidence that this comes after Vogue's caped anti-dreckitude crusader André Leon Talley signed on as a judge for at least three seasons. WWD reports that Steven Meisel may shoot the next winner and that she might also get the cover, differing from yesterday's reports that the winner would definitely get the cover. Maybe Italian Vogue wants to be sure of the next winner before they make any hard-and-fast commitments to Tyra Banks Inc. Even so, this is a huge shift — and much more significant fashion-wise — from the back cover of Seventeen.

Since bringing Talley on, Tyra has retained her signature camp but also managed to dip her toe in high fashion again. Her "Smize" superhero alter ego on America's Next Top Model has given way to more of a good-humored fashion mean girl, giggling with her favorite gay editor on the sidelines, which the industry is more likely to take seriously than someone who comes off like a long-lost Austin Powers character. She could never have this kind of relationship with Nigel Barker or Jay Manuel, because she's a much more significant public figure than they are. Though they're great for the show, they're not as clever as Talley. And what Tyra is to 12-year-old girls, Talley is to the fashion industry. He appears at her side like a shepherd guiding her back to sophistication.

Upping her high-fashion ante, Talley and Tyra just did a photo shoot to pay homage to Alexander McQueen for Tyra's online magazine. Now signed with IMG, Tyra is expected to land more editorial work in other publications so she doesn't have to hire herself for it. Talley may have saved her from getting too ridiculous on television, though she has a media outlet for that in her forthcoming book trilogy. But think of what could happen to ANTM if it becomes a true harbinger of top model talent. What if Stephen Meisel replaced Nigel Barker? Or Nicola Formichetti replaced Jay Manuel? Okay, that's not likely, but if Tyra can dream, we can, too.

All Hail McQueen [Tyra]