NAOMI: In Fashion – celebrating 40 years of a cultural icon

Naomi In Fashion at the V&A, Supported by BOSS (Photo by Dave BenettGetty Images for Victoria & Albert Museum)
Naomi In Fashion at the V&A, Supported by BOSS (c) (Photo by Dave BenettGetty Images for Victoria & Albert Museum)

At a glance

  • Since the early 1990s Naomi Campbell has been one of the most high-profile models in the fashion industry; the V&A are opening a major exhibition NAOMI: In Fashion to celebrate 40 years of one of the most recognisable Black women in the world.
  • NAOMI: In Fashion will feature stunning garments, fashion accessories and fashion photography from over four decades of Naomi Campbell’s exceptional career
  • The exhibition also recognises Campbell’s mentors including prominent public figures such as Nelson Mandela, and striking photography by leading photographers like Campbell Addy.

This weekend, the V&A opens the first exhibition of its kind celebrating the unequalled 40-year career of fashion model and cultural icon Naomi Campbell: NAOMI: In Fashion

Produced in collaboration with Campbell and foregrounding her voice and perspective, NAOMI: In Fashion will draw upon Campbell’s own extensive wardrobe of haute couture and ready-to-wear ensembles from key moments in her career along with loans from designer archives and objects from the V&A’s collections.

A trailblazer in the field, Naomi’s celebrated ability to ‘walk’ the catwalk, along with the special alchemy she creates through collaborations with every major fashion house, fashion publication and leading fashion photographers, ensure that after four decades in the fashion industry, Campbell continues to star in catwalk shows, advertising campaigns and editorial fashion shoots around the world. 

Since the early 1990s Campbell has been one of the most high-profile models in the world – and one of the most recognisable Black women. 

She is on our televisions and phones, in music videos and newspapers. 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 in Covent Garden with schoolfriends; two years later she would be on the front cover of magazines and walking for acclaimed designers in London, Paris, Milan and New York. Foundational to her meteoric rise was hard work, training and a love of dance.

At age 17 Campbell moved to New Yorkand threw herself into the city’s buzzing, social, fashion scene. She forged enduring friendships with designers and others in the industry and at 18, she became the first Black model to feature on the cover of Paris Vogue (August 1988).

By the early 1990s, the term ‘Supermodel’, or model turned international celebrity, was widely used directly in reference to Naomi and a small group of peers. Fashion had become mass entertainment. Campbell, though still in her teens, was at the centre of this excitement, and leading designers championed her talents. She became known for her superlative ‘walk’ while her work with leading photographers created some of the era’s most memorable images. Simultaneously, she moved beyond the world of fashion, performing in music videos, launching her own perfume and becoming a champion of diversity. 

With over forty years of experience working with the leading names in fashion, Campbell is an archetype, whose skill and reputation as an exceptional model is indisputable. Her presence on the catwalk, or in marketing campaigns is guaranteed to attract attention. 

Sonnet Stanfill, Senior Curator, Fashion, V&Asaid: “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 Campbell on this project and to celebrate her career with our audiences.”

About the Exhibition

The exhibition opens with high-impact clips of Campbell on the catwalk, illustrating her legendary ‘walk’, setting the scene for the supermodel’s unparallelled 40-year career.

Visitors will encounter designs by Alexander McQueen, Azzedine Alaïa, Burberry, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Gianni and Donatella Versace, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Karl Lagerfeld, Kenneth Ize, Torishéju Dumi, Valentino, Virgil Abloh, Vivienne Westwood, Yves Saint Laurent and many others.

NAOMI In Fashion at the V&A, Supported by BOSS (c) Victoria and and Albert Museum, London
NAOMI In Fashion at the V&A, Supported by BOSS (c) Victoria and and Albert Museum, London

Highlights will include

  • a dramatic 1989 Thierry Mugler car-inspired corset, Campbell’s look from Sarah Burton’s last Alexander McQueen show, 
  • a pink Valentino ensemble worn at the 2019 Met Gala 
  • a pair of staggeringly high Vivienne Westwood platform shoes worn by Campbell during
  • her famous 1993 catwalk fall. 
  • around 100 looks and accessories from the best of global high fashion chronicling her 40 years in the industry. 

In addition to stunning garments and fashion accessories, fashion photography features prominently. Striking imagery by leading photographers such as Campbell Addy, Nick Knight, Peter Lindbergh and Steven Meisel, will form a selection of photography curated by Edward Enninful OBE.

The exhibition will also recognise Campbell’s mentors including prominent public figures such as Nelson Mandela, who opened Campbell’s eyes to social injustice and went on to inspire her to use her platform for social change. Campbell has advocated for equity from an early age, joining the Black Girls Coalition in 1989 and fronting the 2007 ‘black issue’ of Vogue Italia. Along with Iman and Bethann Hardison, she has campaigned for The Diversity Coalition since 2013 to champion diversity on the catwalk. The exhibition will also spotlight her current ongoing active support of emerging creatives, through events such as Arise Fashion Week and her global initiative EMERGE, founded in 2022.

NAOMI: In Fashion can be viewed at V&A South Kensington from 22 June 2024 – 6 April 2025.

LGT Wealth Management is proud to support the V&A and its longstanding mission to enrich people’s lives by promoting knowledge and enjoyment of design and creativity in all its forms. We share the museum’s core values of collaboration, integrity and innovation.

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