BANKS ON…BANKS: There was practically, and unusually, almost radio silence in the Tyra Banks universe over the last few months, but the former model has spent the past week or so coming in loud and clear. Banks recently signed a one-year contract with IMG, stirring speculation she was aiming to return to high-fashion catwalks and photo shoots. Instead, she’s more interested in finding brands — in the lifestyle and fashion categories and beyond — she can lend her name, reputation and image to, so think spokeswoman, not model. “We already have some exciting deals in the works,” Banks told WWD.
She also provided a bit of background on the new deal between Italian Vogue and the high-fashion makeover that will happen during the next season of “America’s Next Top Model,” which her TV company produces. Italian Vogue editor in chief Franca Sozzani initially reached out to Banks, stressing she wanted to expand into the American marketplace (hello, Anna!). As part of the new partnership, Sozzani agreed to give the winner of season 15 an Italian Vogue cover and two in-book fashion spreads. Banks also serves as a permanent contributor to the magazine’s Web site. “I see a lot more in store for Italian Vogue and Bankable Enterprises across multiple media platforms,” she added. The show is already in more than 100 countries and has 17 international editions.
And later this year, Banks has more in store when it comes to fashion. She’s the latest with plans to launch a new fashion and beauty online portal that is billed to be “unlike anything that’s currently available on the Web.” But isn’t that what they all say? — Amy Wicks
CREATIVITY, NOT COMMODITY: As far as the Silicon Valley insiders who are crowding the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York this week are concerned, old media is on the way out — and they couldn’t be happier about it. But that’s not the way Tuesday’s surprise guest, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, sees it. “If you give the public what they want, they’ll pay for it,” he said, citing the ever-growing Economist (the model desperately pointed to by almost everyone these days) and his own Bloomberg service as examples. “I’m a big fan of quality media. The problem is not whether distribution should be via a big truck or fiber. The question is: Is it something you need?” he said. “The magazines that are in trouble are in trouble because they’re writing the same stuff everyone else is, and the graphics have taken over from content and they aren’t germane to the marketplace anymore. The marketplace is unforgiving. Capitalism really works.”
He also said the city plans to launch a media lab at a university later this year, unveiled funding for start-ups and called for immigration reform. The density of immigrants in New York is what makes the city great, he said. “Our immigration policies are national suicide. We need more visas for people to come here, certainly not less.” — Cate T. Corcoran
REBEL, REBEL: What does Nina Garcia have to tell the Fashion Institute of Technology’s class of 2010? Not “auf Wiedersehen” or “those shoes look cute on you.” Instead: Rebel! “To rebel is to home in on who you are,” the Marie Claire fashion director said from center stage at Radio City Music Hall. “Few people can do it in a constructive way.…All of today’s fashion icons were once rule breakers.” To illustrate her lesson, Garcia told of interning at Perry Ellis as an FIT student in 1992 just as Marc Jacobs showed his infamous grunge collection for the label. That the move earned the designer his walking papers linked to another bit of Garcia wisdom. “I make my living in an industry that has very little patience for anyone,” she said, adding the fashion world tends to blow both failure and success out of proportion. “This eternal metronome can lead to a very surreal work environment,” she said, giving the 1,600 graduates an idea of what comes next — a lack of reality.
The editor was in good company onstage. Calvin Klein Collection’s Italo Zucchelli received the Mortimer C. Ritter Award from the school’s alumni association, and Garcia’s fellow FIT alum Norma Kamali was awarded an honorary doctorate of fine arts. Kamali empathized with the mortarboard wearers in the audience. “This day, for me in 1964, was traumatic,” the designer said. Kamali told of not quite fitting in with the Jackie O look of the student body in her campus days. “I was always a mess, and I could never get it together,” she said. And though she spoke fondly of coming up in the Sixties, Kamali assured the graduates they were in an even headier era. “You are all launching yourselves into this incredible time,” the designer said. — Matthew Lynch
A NEW SLANT: On Tuesday, True/Slant founder and chief executive officer Lewis DVorkin revealed via a blog post that his site — a blogger community and news aggregation Web site launched last month — would be acquired by Forbes Media, one of the start-up’s original investors along with Fuse Capital. DVorkin, who previously had been a senior vice president at AOL and executive editor of Forbes magazine from 1996 to 2000, had been consulting for Forbes since last month. As part of the deal, DVorkin will become Forbes’ chief product officer, effective Tuesday. Access to True/Slant’s 300-plus contributors (all of whom received compensation for their posts, either with checks or in the form of equity) was likely the major attraction for Forbes, which last month received flak for reportedly soliciting media bloggers to write for its Web site for free. However, True/Slant’s biggest name, Matt Taibbi, said Monday that he was leaving to blog exclusively for rollingstone.com.
The move appears more strategic than anything else. True/Slant will clock a record 1.5 million unique visitors this month, according to DVorkin’s blog post, while forbes.com has about 18 million unique monthly visitors, according to Omniture. Neither DVorkin nor Forbes revealed the financial terms of the deal. — Nick Axelrod