Naomi Campbell (born in Streatham, London on May 22, 1970) is, quite literally, a fashion icon. Since she was scouted in London’s Covent Garden in 1986, and made her runway debut as part of Yves Saint Laurent’s AW87 show, the English model, actress and businesswoman has become one of the industry’s most recognisable faces (not to mention the legendary walk).
Early in her career, she was taken under the wing of Christy Turlington. The pair would go on to form ‘the Trinity’ with Canadian model Linda Evangelista, after being brought together by photographer Steven Meisel. She was on the cover of Vogue by the age of 17, and less than a year later, in 1988, made history as the first black model to appear on the cover of French Vogue.
Campbell has appeared on countless magazine covers and catwalks across the world, walking for the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Azzedine Alaïa, and Versace. In 1990, a Peter Lindbergh-shot Vogue cover with Evangelista, Turlington and Cindy Crawford caught the eye of George Michael, who featured them in the music video for “Freedom! ‘90”. In 1991, Gianni Versace sent all four supermodels down the runway lip-syncing the track, a moment that was revisited during the label’s SS18 show.
Following the rise of Tyra Banks – which saw her hailed as Campbell’s successor – the English model made some controversial attempts to protect her status, such as convincing Karl Lagerfeld to ban Banks from the Chanel runway. The pair seemingly settled their rivalry in a 2005 episode of The Tyra Banks Show. Despite a rumoured pregnancy with her former partner Skepta in 2018, Campbell has no biological children. However, Campbell has referred to a “chosen family”, comparing actor Ryan Destiny to a daughter. Model Adut Akech has also referred to Campbell as her “mama” in the fashion world.
Needless to say, Campbell maintains her status as fashion royalty, too. In 2020, she fronted her first campaign for Vivienne Westwood (shot by Juergen Teller), besides appearing in Beyoncé’s visual album, Black Is King. In 2021, Campbell walked for Kim Jones’ haute couture debut at Fendi.