All You Need To Know About The V&A’s New Exhibition On Supermodel Naomi Campbell - The Gloss Magazine

All You Need To Know About The V&A’s New Exhibition On Supermodel Naomi Campbell

NAOMI: In Fashion explores the 40-year career of fashion model and cultural icon Naomi Campbell. Here’s what to expect …

“Naomi Campbell’s extraordinary career intersects with the best of high fashion. She is recognised worldwide as a supermodel, activist, philanthropist, and creative collaborator, making her one of the most prolific and influential figures in contemporary culture. We’re delighted to be working with Naomi on this project and to celebrate her career with our audiences.” So explains Sonnet Stanfill, Senior Curator, Fashion, V&A, of the new exhibition “Naomi: In Fashion”, opening this week, which is sure to be catnip for those interested in augmenting their fashion intelligence and reliving iconic moments from the London-born supermodel’s career.

Produced in collaboration with Campbell, the exhibition draws upon the model’s own extensive wardrobe of haute couture and ready-to-wear ensembles and includes around 100 looks and accessories chronicling her 40 years in the industry. Highlights include a dramatic 1989 Thierry Mugler car-inspired corset, Campbell’s exit from Sarah Burton’s last Alexander McQueen show, a pink Valentino ensemble worn at the 2019 Met Gala and a pair of Vivienne Westwood platform shoes worn by Campbell during her famous 1993 catwalk fall.

The exhibition opens with clips of Campbell on the catwalk, illustrating her distinctive “walk”. In fact, you can Google her tips for the perfect runway walk which include keeping your shoulders back and head straight, with eyes level at all times. She advises examining clothing before you wear it to understand its fluidity and weight, and take long strides with feet in line, lifting your knees slightly higher than usual and keep the pace consistent.

Alaïa pieces worn by Naomi Campbell.

The Becoming Naomi” section goes back to Campbell’s childhood. Born in 1970, south-Londoner Campbell aspired to a career on stage and performed in 1980s music videos for artists including Bob Marley and Culture Club. Her life changed when, aged 15, she was approached by model agent Beth Boldt while out shopping with school friends; two years later she would be on the front cover of Vogue and walking for designers in London, Paris, Milan and New York. Her meteoric rise was cemented via hard work, training and a love of dance. Examples of Campbell’s earliest covers are also on display, including her Vogue Paris Patrick Demarchelier cover from August 1988 – she was the first Black model to cover the magazine. 

By the early 1990s, the term ‘supermodel’ was widely used directly in reference to Naomi and her peers Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington. (Collectively they were known as the Holy Trinity). Fashion had become mass entertainment and Campbell was at its epicentre. At this time she performed in further music videos, launched her own perfume and became a champion of diversity. Highlights from this section include an Andy Warhol-print dress from Gianni Versace’s SS 1991 show.

The next section focuses on Campbell’s intense personal and professional relationship with late Tunis-born, Paris-based designer Azzedine Alaïa – who she called ‘Papa’. Alaïa is famed for his figure-hugging designs and Campbell’s sculptural physique, to him ‘a perfect body’, inspired much of this work. In turn, Alaïa offered valuable experience and introductions to industry professionals. Together, the pair created runway magic and editorial gold. A leopard-print knitwear bodysuit from Alaïa’s AW 1991 ready-to-wear collection features, famously captured in a photograph by Herb Ritts in 1991 for Interview magazine.

Since the early 1990s, Campbell has been one of the most high profile models in the world and “The Spotlight” section explores a highly publicised moment when Campbell served a period of court-ordered community service after she admitted throwing a mobile phone at her maid. On display in this section is the Dolce & Gabbana gown that Campbell wore on her final day of community service – a look she wore in response to the paparazzi capturing her arrival and departure every day. (There is no mention of her novel, The Swan, 1996 which was ghost written. Later Campbell would admit, “I just did not have time to sit down and write a book.”) 

The next section looks at Campbell as an “Exemplar” in her field, and her early collaborations with many fashion houses, from Dolce & Gabbana and Vivienne Westwood to Jean Paul Gautier. “Alchemy” section references Campbell’s respect and work with world-renowned photographers from Steven Meisel and Arthur Elgort to Patrick Demarchelier and David Bailey. The selection of photography featured is curated by Edward Enninful, who made Campbell a Contributing Editor to Vogue during his tenure as editor in chief. Enninful has said of Campbell: “As anyone who has worked with her knows, when Naomi arrives at a shoot, she is there to work.”

Finally, the exhibition portrays Campbell as an “Archetype” whose skill and reputation as a model is indisputable. Highlights from this section include an ensemble from Virgil Abloh’s final collection during the Off-White show held shortly after his untimely death, a hand-embroidered dress and cape from Rizman Ruzaini embellished with over 35,000 crystals and a custom pink ensemble by Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino worn by Campbell at the Met Gala. A grey wool ensemble by BOSS for the AW23 “BeYourOwnBoss” campaign is also displayed, nearby is a dress by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen highlighting the occasion of Campbell receiving the Fashion Icon Award at the British Fashion Awards in 2019.

All in all, the exhibition is a feast of fashion history, famous photography and unforgettable designs. The exhibition NAOMI: In Fashion will run from June 22 2024 until April 6 2025. Tickets are available at

Glossy tip: Stay at The Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington. It’s a stone’s throw from all of the major museums including the V&A and Natural History Museum – the rooms take their cue from the flora and fauna of the latter. After checking out the exhibition, pop into the Prada Caffè at Harrods. For cocktails, book the rooftop terrace at The Berkeley and for dinner, try Rocca on Old Brompton Road before dancing the night away at Boujis. 


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