Yesterday (Aug. 21), the newest addition to Madame Tussauds family of icons makes its big debut. After much demand, a wax figure of Aaliyah, or “Babygirl” to long standing fans and music industry peers is now open to the public at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas. The figure, which many fans will agree is long overdue, comes nearly 18 years after her tragic passing.
According to Adam Morey, Studios Manager at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, discussions around the making of an Aaliyah figure began over a year and a half ago. Morey has played a role in establishing the set designs to accompany several of the other celebrity figures at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, but wanted to make sure this one was more about inspiration than flair. “This set, rather than being a recreation of any one particular Aaliyah moment, was instead designed with a message to her fans in mind,” he says. “It’s a message that hopefully reflects her everlasting legacy.”
The new statue plucks Aaliyah straight from a frame in her 2000 “Try Again” music video, where she dons her signature leather pants and metallic bra, belt and choker set (which is still a Halloween costume staple to this day).
“It was clear right away it would be the ‘Try Again’ look for our Aaliyah figure,” he says via email statement. “The look has the sexy, edgy, timeless vibe we try to imbue in the Las Vegas attraction within all our creative choices. Mining popular culture as only Madame Tussauds can, our desire to honor Aaliyah and the look in this way was only confirmed as we see today’s Hollywood stars like KeKe Palmer, Kim Kardashian, Zendaya, also paying homage by recreating their own favorite moments of the Princess of R&B.”
Aside from Morey, one of the critical voices in ensuring the accuracy of this endeavor was that of Aaliyah’s brother, Rashad Haughton, who Morey says granted “unprecedented access” and helped guide the creative decisions for the figure.
“I was involved in the process from the inception of the project,” Haughton says via email statement. “The team at Madame Tussauds welcomed a collaborative effort in choosing the pose and look of my sister’s figure. They made sure my mother and I were comfortable and supported through an amazing but understandably emotional process.”
Morey and the sculptors, painters and stylists in the museum’s Acton Studios in London, worked to make sure that all of the Haughton family’s requests for Aaliyah’s likeness were honored, right on down to her tattoos. “One thing we made sure to include was all of my sister’s tattoos,” Haughton says. “They are all quite hidden because my sister chose strategic places for them due to her on-camera film work. We know how devout and knowledgeable her fans are and the great artists at Madame Tussauds have no limitations to their abilities when it comes to detail.”
Now, whenever guests make their way to the museum to see the statue, they’ll know it was crafted in love and in reverence of her legacy.