“I like to say we’re like the Disney of fashion and beauty and self-esteem,” said Tyra Banks of her newest undertaking Modelland, the “location-based attraction,” as she refers to it, opening in Santa Monica, Calif., on May 1. “We’re there to stay.”
It’s not a pop-up, emphasized the model-turned-entrepreneur. In fact, it’s perhaps the start of an international franchise. “There’s been a lot of interest,” she said. “And there’s a lot of money that went into building Modelland. When you go in there, you’ll go, ‘Oh, this is not popping down tomorrow or anytime soon.’”
General admission day tickets for adults at the 21,000-square-foot venture starts at $59 and goes to $1,495 (for the “fantasy dream” option).
“It’s a place where everybody can be the fantasy versions of themselves,” she explained at Nine West’s spring 2020 campaign unveiling. Banks is the brand’s newest brand ambassador. “You’re led on this story-driven adventure where you are taking the coolest photos with lighting designed for you. There’s tips and tricks from me. We have live posing classes. Everyone leaves with a look book.…We want to make sure that the experience is what I call asymmetrical. You might go at one time, and I might go an hour later, and we’ll talk later, like, ‘I didn’t see do that. You did that? What?’ We want to make it very original. We like to think we’re like fashion, meaning we change with the seasons. Every three months, we change the theme. When you come back, it’s totally different.”
Banks chose L.A. because it’s home. “Born and raised,” she said. “I’m 15 minutes from home. I can get to Modelland in 15 minutes.”
The “America’s Next Top Model” creator, author and former talk show host “came out of modeling retirement last year,” she said. Why become the face of Nine West? “My team showed me what they stood for, and it’s about empowerment of women and innovators. I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s what I’m about.’ It felt nice to do something that wasn’t just posing and modeling clothing. That’s why I said yes.”
The newest collection, titled “Innovators,” celebrates Banks as a groundbreaker.
“I kind of followed in the footsteps of Cindy Crawford, but just did it my way,” she shared. “I was very inspired by her. I remember reading an article saying she had a Revlon contract and an office in the Revlon building, and I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s cool.’ I couldn’t really understand what that meant, but I know there was something powerful behind it. I liked that she took her name and made herself a brand and household name.
“I added my own passions,” she continued. “It’s producing television and creating a talk show and now being the founder of Modelland.”