SUPERS

Tyra Banks Came Out of Retirement to Re-Create Her Historic Sports Illustrated Cover

Twenty-three years later and “25 pounds heavier.”


Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott

The last time that Tyra Banks appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue, the soon-to-be supermodel made history, becoming the first black model to ever land a solo SI cover, in 1996. Now, Banks is back: She came out of retirement to once again appear on the cover of the magazine’s latest swimsuit issue, re-creating her last cover 23 years later—and, as she put it when making the reveal on Good Morning America on Wednesday, “25 pounds heavier.”

Banks and Sports Illustrated might not have been able to track down the polka-dot bikini she wore in the ’90s, but the 45-year-old super did manage to make it back to the original location, in the Bahamas, where Lauretta Houston photographed her striking the same pose; this time, she is wearing a yellow string bikini by Andy Bagus. (Technically, she’s one of three models with solo covers this time around, though it doesn’t seem likely that Camille Kostek and Alex Morgan are about to steal her spotlight.)

In the two-plus decades since she retired from modeling, Banks has tried her hand at pretty much everything. That includes writing several books in a range of genres, from novels to memoirs; becoming a faculty member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, as well as a Taylor Swift–level real estate mogul; and breaking into the field of emojis. She’s even currently in the process of opening a theme park.

Still, Banks has yet to dedicate nearly as much of her time to any of those pursuits as she has to modeling, which she took up when she was 15. In 1991, she made her runway debut, walking 25 shows in her first season, and soon joined the supermodels who helped establish the early Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows. There was no shortage of difficulties along the way, but Banks still managed to make a series of historic firsts; she was also the first African American model to appears on the cover of GQ, as well as a Victoria’s Secret catalog. And then, of course, there was her breakout Sports Illustrated cover, which Banks can barely believe is more than two decades in her past. “My first one was 23 years ago, how crazy is that?” she said on Good Morning America. “I’m like, damn—I’m 45, dog!”

Still, she’s trying to be casual; after formally sharing her cover on Twitter, accompanied by the message that it was “for everybody that has been told that they are not good enough because of their body, their age, their everything.” Just a minute later, though, she’d reposted it with a much more casual caption: “#NewProfilePic.”

Related: Tyra Banks Says She Wouldn’t Have Made It if Her Mom Didn’t Support Her Booty in “Any Shape or Form”

A Look Back at the Earliest Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows

Beverly Peele at the first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, inside the Plaza Hotel in New York, 1995.

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Natane Adcock at the first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, inside the Plaza Hotel in New York, 1995.

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Beverly Peele backstage at the first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, inside the Plaza Hotel in New York, 1995.

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Angelika Kallio at the first Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, inside the Plaza Hotel in New York, 1995.

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Tyra Banks backstage at the 1996 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, inside the Plaza Hotel in New York.

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Heidi Klum backstage at the 1997 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, inside the Plaza Hotel in New York.

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Tyra Banks backstage at the 1996 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, inside the Plaza Hotel in New York.

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Stephanie Seymour at the 1996 Victoria’s Secret Valentine Fashion Show, inside the Plaza Hotel in New York.

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Naomi Campbell backstage at the 1998 Victoria’s Secret Pre-Valentine’s Day Fashion Show, with Jeff Probst, inside the Plaza Hotel in New York.

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Claudia Schiffer backstage at the 1997 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, inside the Plaza Hotel in New York.

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Rebecca Romijn-Stamos at the 1997 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, inside the Plaza Hotel in New York.

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Naomi Campbell at the 1997 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, inside the Plaza Hotel in New York.

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Georgianna Robertson in a Valentine’s Day ensemble at the 1997 Victoria’s Secret Spring Revelations Fashion Show in New York.

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Naomi Campbell at the 1997 Victoria’s Secret Spring Revelations Fashion Show in New York.

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A model wearing a black scuba-diving femme fatale corset at the 1997 Victoria’s Secret Spring Revelations Fashion Show, inside the Plaza Hotel in New York.

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Naomi Campbell on the runway of the 1998 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show at the Plaza Hotel in New York.

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A model wearing a silk handkerchief and a satin thong at the 1999 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York.

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Heidi Klum, who wore that year’s $10 million “millenium bra,” and Karen Mulder backstage at the 1999 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

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Gisele Bündchen at the 1999 Victoria Secret’s Fashion Show in New York.

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Tyra Banks at the 1999 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York.

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Stephanie Seymour at the 1999 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York.

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Gisele Bündchen at the 1999 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York.

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Heidi Klum in front of a Concorde jet after arriving for the 2000 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and charity gala for amfAR during the Cannes Film Festival.

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Adriana Lima at the 2000 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and amfAR charity gala during the Cannes Film Festival.

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Gisele Bündchen at the 2000 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and amfAR charity gala during the Cannes Film Festival.

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Alessandra Ambrosio backstage at the 2001 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show at Bryant Park in New York.

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Karen Elson backstage at the 2001 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show fittings in New York.

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Gisele Bündchen backstage at the 2002 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, inside the Armory in New York.

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