Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks were supermodels 30 years ago. They've been feuding ever since.

Naomi Campbell is having a moment right now. 

The British icon just launched a collection with Pretty Little Thing, and she's back in the spotlight in the Apple TV+ docuseries The Super Models, which documents the rise of the four original 'Supers', who found stardom in the '80s: Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, and Linda Evangelista.

These models were eventually joined by Claudia Schiffer and Kate Moss to become known as the 'Big Six', and were a new breed of model who transcended fashion, their faces were plastered across everything from food and film to music.

Meanwhile, Tyra Banks was busy breaking into the fashion scene amidst the Super hype, rising through the ranks at breakneck speed. Booking a record-breaking 25 shows in 1991, she quickly levelled up to the OG Supers' status. But as the only two women of colour with supermodel status in the '90s, Tyra and Naomi would develop a rivalry so legendary it would become ingrained in fashion folklore.

The origin of a supermodel feud.

Naomi and Tyra both rose to prominence in the fashion world at a time when Black models were seldom seen on the runway, and almost never cast on the cover of magazines.

Each model broke ground for women of colour around the world. 

Naomi became the first Black model to appear on the cover of French Vogue in 1988. The next year, the British supermodel was the first Black model to be on the front of the September issue of American Vogue. 

In 1997, Campbell became the first Black woman open a Prada show.


Meanwhile, Tyra was the first Black woman on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 1996 and that same year, she became the first African-American woman to make the cover of GQ.

At times, the models had startling similar career trajectories.  

In 1991, Banks appeared in Michael Jackson's 'Black or White' music video while Campbell was the leading lady in the pop singer's 'In the Closet' clip in 1992. 

Both models became known for their signature runway walks: Naomi's sultry strut is legendary while Tyra became beloved for her sexy sashay on the catwalk.

Campbell's walk is so renowned that it's said to have inspired Beyoncé's entrance in her music video 'Crazy in Love'. 

Tyra became the first Black woman to be on the cover of a Victoria's Secret catalogue. She would later become a Victoria's Secret Angel and be the first woman of colour to wear the coveted Fantasy Bra.

Banks was joined by other Angels like Gisele Bündchen, Heidi Klum, Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio, who all became the leading supermodels of the early '00s.

For a brief time, being an Angel was the way a supermodel's status was sealed. However, Campbell famously said that the lingerie brand "could not afford me". She walked in a few shows but never became a full-time Angel. 

What's happened since between Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks.

In 2005, Tyra invited Naomi on her now-defunct chat show The Tyra Banks Show to address their rumoured beef. 

On the show, Tyra accused Naomi of once saying backstage at a fashion show, "You’ll never be me. Don’t think you can be me." The host also made several more allegations against the iconic model: “You called me the B-word and said, ‘We have a photoshoot to do in Anguilla and it’s not going to be pleasant if you’re talking about me like that.'"


In response to Tyra's claims, Naomi largely denied the accusations. "I’m not someone to go and give myself away and say that to anybody. I’ve never said that in my life. If that’s what you remember, I accept that person, but that doesn’t sound like me to people who know me."

In the end, she did apologise to Tyra in a roundabout way and the supermodels hugged it out.

Watch Naomi's apology here. Post continues after video. 

Video via TYRA

In 2013, Campbell told Elle while promoting her model search show The Face that, “I don’t watch the other reality model shows. I’ll never have anything to say. If you ask me about Tyra Banks, I’m proud of her as a woman of colour. She’s given girls opportunity, and God bless her.”

But just as it looked like the feud was about to be put to bed, Tyra appeared as a guest on Norwegian/Swedish talk show Skavlan in 2019.

In the interview, she spoke candidly about the rivalry from her early years modelling. 


“I got to Paris, and it was very difficult. I did really well, really fast, but then the industry was saying, ‘Oh, look out Naomi Campbell, here comes Tyra Banks! So Naomi Campbell, sit your butt down, this younger one is coming to take your place.' It was really unfair to her because the other models that weren't black, like Kate Moss came up, we were the same generation, they weren't saying, 'Look out Christy Turlington, this cheek bone girl has cheekbones higher than yours! Get back!' You know, so they weren't saying that," she continued.

“It wasn’t fair to Naomi, but her response was… to this day, I’m very scared of her. It was very difficult — like, some of my lowest times of my life — dealing with that.”

Tyra once again brought up an incident in Anguilla, in which she claims Naomi was responsible for her being sent home. 

"I don't condone her actions and her response, but I understand where it comes from, because the world is saying, 'You're not gonna have your spot, we're gonna take your money, we're gonna take your fame, go sit down, there's somebody else.' You know, so that's pretty serious. She reacted strongly, but I kind of understand where that was coming from inside of her."

Reflecting on being reunited on The Tyra Banks Show, Tyra recalled, "She kept saying it never happened and then there was a commercial break and then she came back and said, you know, 'I'm sorry.'

"And, oh my God, I just cried like a baby. To hear that after so many years of pain and dealing with it publically... me having to leave agencies because of her... to hear that apology meant the world to me. She has no idea what that did for me."


In another 2019 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Banks opened up even further about her relationship with Campbell. “It wasn’t a rivalry, and I’m very sensitive to that word because a rivalry is with two equals to me, whereas [in this], one was very dominant,” she said.

“She was a supermodel and I was just some new girl that got on a plane from Paris... As much as I was booking every single fashion show, people didn’t know I was going home at night crying my eyes out because a woman that I was looking up to seemed like she just didn’t want me to be there, and was doing everything in her power to make me go away.”

That same year, during a chat on Watch What Happens Live, Naomi was quick to quash any rumours of a revived rivalry with Tyra. "The last time I contacted Tyra, we were in a good friendship," she rather vaguely stated.

"I do not feel, and it does bug me and irk me, that two women of the same ilk, we're both women of colour, that we have to be pitted against each other. That's something I felt back then, you can have more than one woman of colour in a fashion show. 

"Unfortunately back then, they would only have one so the other one would be like 'Oh, she put me out.' When I did Tyra's show... we cleared that up," she said.

"I'm really proud of Tyra for what she's done, for America's Next Top Model, which is now all over the world, it's a great achievement, she should be very proud. I'm proud of her. I'm proud to know her."


So where do Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks stand now?

Well, they don't appear to be besties.

Tyra gave an interview on Watch What Happens Live in 2020, where she said she hadn't spoken to Naomi since they were both backstage at a Michael Jackson concert in Las Vegas – which would be mean it was prior to 2009, the year the singer died.

That same year, the British supermodel posted something to her Instagram Story which set the internet ablaze. 

Naomi shared an article by gossip site The Things which was entitled: 'Here's Why Fans Are Starting To Think Tyra Banks Is The Real Mean Girl, Not Naomi Campbell.' The article took aim at some of the tone-deaf moments that took place on America’s Next Top Model, which were resurfacing on TikTok.

In response to the growing criticism, Banks owned up to her mistakes. “Been seeing the posts about the insensitivity of some past ANTM moments and I agree with you,” she posted on Twitter in 2020. “Looking back, those were some really off choices."

Tyra didn't respond directly to Naomi, however. As of this year, their feud appears to be alive and well, simmering below the surface.

The Super Models will debut globally on Apple TV+ on September 20, 2023.

Feature image: Getty.

Do you have children aged under 13 years? Take this survey now to go in the running to win one of four $50 gift vouchers for your time.