NAOMI: In Fashion
Photographer - Marco Bahler

NAOMI: In Fashion – Breathtaking Exhibition

The exhibition “NAOMI: In Fashion” will be at V&A South Kensington from June 22, 2024, to April 6, 2025. NAOMI: In Fashion is an exhibition that will delve into the unparalleled four-decade-long career of the fashion model and cultural icon Naomi Campbell, born in 1970.

As a pioneer in her field, Naomi Campbell is celebrated for her iconic ‘walk’ on the catwalk. Her unique ability to create magic through collaborations with every major fashion house, fashion publication, and leading fashion photographers has secured her a prominent place in the fashion industry for over four decades. Campbell continues to feature prominently in catwalk shows, advertising campaigns, and editorial fashion shoots globally. Concurrently, Campbell’s role extends beyond the traditional confines of fashion modelling, embodying cultural leadership, activism, and a commitment to supporting emerging creatives, thus transcending the usual boundaries of her profession.

Created in partnership with Naomi Campbell, emphasising her voice and viewpoint, NAOMI: In Fashion marks the inaugural exhibition of this nature. This showcase will feature selections from Campbell’s personal collection of haute couture and ready-to-wear outfits that highlight significant milestones in her career. Additionally, it will include pieces on loan from designer archives and items from the Victoria and Albert Museum collections.

NAOMI: In Fashion

NAOMI: In Fashion Highlights

Featured attractions in NAOMI: In Fashion will showcase an eye-catching 1989 Thierry Mugler corset inspired by automobiles, Naomi Campbell’s attire from Sarah Burton’s final show for Alexander McQueen, a pink Valentino outfit she donned at the 2019 Met Gala, and the notably tall Vivienne Westwood platform shoes Campbell was wearing during her memorable fall on the catwalk in 1993.

The NAOMI: In Fashion exhibition will showcase approximately 100 ensembles and accessories, representing the pinnacle of international high fashion, to commemorate Naomi Campbell’s 40-year tenure in the industry.

Attendees will have the opportunity to explore creations by a host of eminent designers, including 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 more, offering a comprehensive view of her illustrious career.

The exhibition will prominently feature fashion photography alongside breathtaking outfits and fashion accessories. A curated selection of captivating images by renowned photographers, including Campbell Addy, Nick Knight, Peter Lindbergh, and Steven Meisel, will be presented, all carefully selected by Edward Enninful OBE. This inclusion enriches the exhibition by visually exploring fashion’s photographic artistry.

NAOMI: In Fashion will celebrate Naomi Campbell’s illustrious career in fashion and honour the mentors who have significantly influenced her journey, including notable individuals like Nelson Mandela. These figures inspired her to leverage her platform for social change. From an early age, Campbell has been a vocal advocate for equality, joining forces with the Black Girls Coalition in 1989 and playing a pivotal role in the 2007 ‘black issue’ of Vogue Italia, highlighting her commitment to diversity and representation within the industry.

Together with Bethann Hardison and Iman, Naomi Campbell has actively supported The Diversity Coalition since 2013, striving to promote diversity on the catwalk. The exhibition will also focus on her continuous effort to support emerging talents, exemplified by her participation in events like Arise Fashion Week and the creation of her global initiative, EMERGE, in 2022. This highlights her commitment to nurturing new creative voices in the fashion industry.

Naomi Campbell said: “I’m honoured to be asked by the V&A to share my life in clothes with the world.”

Sonnet Stanfill, Senior Curator, Fashion, V&A, said: “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.”

NAOMI: In Fashion

About the NAOMI: In Fashion Exhibition

The NAOMI: In Fashion exhibition begins with dynamic footage of Naomi Campbell on the catwalk, showcasing her iconic ‘walk.’ This introduction sets the tone for exploring the supermodel‘s unmatched 40-year career in the fashion industry, highlighting her enduring influence and legacy.

Becoming Naomi then retraces Naomi Campbell’s early life, starting from her birth in 1970. Growing up in South London, Campbell initially dreamed of a career in the performing arts and appeared in music videos during the 1980s for artists like Bob Marley and Culture Club. Her trajectory shifted dramatically at the age of 15 when model agent Beth Boldt spotted her during a shopping trip with friends. 

Just two years later, Campbell graced the cover of Vogue and strutted the runways for renowned designers in fashion capitals such as London, Paris, Milan, and New York, marking the beginning of her meteoric rise in the fashion industry.

Central to Naomi Campbell’s rapid ascent in the fashion world were her dedication, training, and passion for dance. A testament to her early achievements and entrance into the upper tiers of fashion modelling is her participation in walking for Yves Saint Laurent, highlighted by a feathered cocktail dress from his Autumn/Winter 1987 collection that will be featured in the exhibition. 

Additionally, some of Campbell’s earliest magazine covers will be displayed, including her groundbreaking Vogue Paris cover shot by Patrick Demarchelier in August 1988, where she made history as the first Black model to grace the magazine’s cover.

By the early 1990s, Naomi Campbell and a select group of her peers became emblematic of the ‘Supermodel’ phenomenon—a model transformed into an international celebrity. This era marked the point when fashion evolved into a form of mass entertainment, with Campbell, still in her late teens, positioned at the epicentre of this burgeoning excitement. 

Leading designers were quick to recognise and champion her extraordinary talents. Campbell became renowned for her unparalleled ‘walk’ on the catwalk, and her collaborations with top photographers resulted in some of that period’s most iconic and enduring images.

At the same time, Naomi Campbell expanded her influence beyond the fashion industry. She appeared in music videos, launched her own perfume line, and became an outspoken advocate for diversity in the fashion world. 

This part of her journey is highlighted by noteworthy pieces such as a dress adorned with an Andy Warhol print from Gianni Versace’s Spring/Summer 1991 collection and a striking corset inspired by automotive design, created by Thierry Mugler in 1989 from materials like plastic, metal, and acrylic. These items underscore her versatility and impact across various facets of entertainment and activism.

In 1993, Naomi Campbell inadvertently made fashion history when she fell on the runway, all while smiling, in Vivienne Westwood’s extraordinarily high blue platform shoes. This memorable incident, rather than diminishing her stature, actually boosted her profile—as well as that of the designer—to new levels. 

The original pair of shoes, bearing the model’s name on the inside, were promptly acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum. The complete outfit is brought back together for the first time since that iconic event, highlighting a moment that demonstrated Campbell’s professionalism and grace and her significant impact on the fashion world.

The next section of the NAOMI: In Fashion exhibition delves into Naomi Campbell’s profound personal and professional bond with the late Tunis-born, Paris-based designer Azzedine Alaïa, whom she affectionately called ‘Papa’. Alaïa welcomed the young model into his home and studio, where, with her mother’s consent, Campbell lived alongside the designer, his partner, and their dogs. 

Renowned for his designs that seamlessly hugged the figure, Alaïa found in Campbell’s sculptural physique what he considered a perfect body, which inspired much of his work. This segment highlights the unique and nurturing relationship that significantly influenced their careers and contributions to fashion.

In return, Azzedine Alaïa enriched Naomi Campbell’s career with invaluable experiences and connections to professionals in the fashion industry. Their collaboration resulted in unforgettable runway appearances and iconic editorial pieces. Highlighting their partnership, the exhibition will showcase a leopard-print knitwear bodysuit from Alaïa’s Autumn/Winter 1991 ready-to-wear collection, immortalised in a 1991 photograph by Herb Ritts for Interview magazine.

NAOMI: In Fashion

At 17, Campbell moved to New York City, immersing herself in the metropolis’s vibrant social and fashion scenes. There, she established lasting relationships with designers and other industry insiders. Notable outfits featured in this part of the exhibition include an ensemble from Marc Jacobs’ Grunge Redux collection and a piece designed by Anna Sui, a longtime friend of Campbell. These items underscore her deep connections within the fashion community and her impact on the industry’s evolving trends.

Since the early 1990s, Naomi Campbell has stood as one of the most prominent figures in the modeling world, becoming an iconic representation of Black women globally. Her presence extends across various media platforms, from television and smartphones to music videos and print newspapers. “The Spotlight” section of the “NAOMI: In Fashion” exhibition delves into a widely publicised chapter of her life when Campbell completed community service as mandated by a court order.

This part of the exhibition highlights the striking Dolce & Gabbana gown Campbell chose for her last day of community service. This fashion statement was her response to the relentless attention from the paparazzi, who documented her arrival and departure each day of her service.

This moment in Campbell’s life underscores her ability to navigate public scrutiny with a unique blend of grace and fashion-forward thinking.

The next section of “NAOMI: In Fashion” will showcase Naomi Campbell as an Exemplar in the fashion industry, focusing on her early and ongoing collaborations with several renowned fashion houses, including Dolce & Gabbana, Vivienne Westwood, and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Established when Campbell was just beginning her career, these relationships have grown into decades of mutual respect and creative partnership, illustrating her lasting influence and the deep bonds she has formed within the fashion community.

Throughout her career, Naomi Campbell has been celebrated for her ability to wear the most challenging outfits with what seems like effortless grace, adding glamour to everything from a Fendi coat adorned with beaded sleeves to a jewel-encrusted Dolce & Gabbana bodysuit.

World-renowned photographers such as Steven Meisel, Arthur Elgort, Patrick Demarchelier, and David Bailey have lauded her exceptional relationship with the camera, who all remark on Campbell’s unique ability to create magical imagery. Campbell, in turn, profoundly respects the creative talents she collaborates with, always aiming to fulfil their artistic vision during shoots.

Edward Enninful OBE curated the selection of photography to be displayed. He notes that Campbell is fully committed to her work during photoshoots, showcasing her professionalism and dedication.

With over four decades in the industry, working alongside the most illustrious names in fashion, Campbell has established herself as a quintessential model whose presence on the runway or in campaigns commands immediate attention.

This part of the “NAOMI: In Fashion” exhibition highlights her role in advocating for emerging designers and her significant career milestones. Featured pieces include an outfit from Virgil Abloh’s final Off-White collection, a dress and cape by Rizman Ruzaini adorned with over 35,000 crystals, and a bespoke pink ensemble by Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino, which Campbell wore to the Met Gala.

Additionally, a grey wool ensemble from BOSS’s Autumn/Winter 2023 ‘BeYourOwnBoss’ campaign will be on display, alongside a dress by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, commemorating the moment Campbell was honoured with the Fashion Icon Award at the British Fashion Awards in 2019. This section of the exhibition celebrates Campbell’s advocacy, her pivotal moments in fashion, and her support for the next generation of designers.

NAOMI: In Fashion

The exhibition “NAOMI: In Fashion” is scheduled from June 22, 2024, to April 6, 2025. Tickets can be purchased via the website 

Alongside the exhibition, a publication titled “Naomi: In Fashion” will be released, featuring an interview with Naomi Campbell and presenting over 20 of her most iconic looks, each personally selected and discussed by Campbell herself. This publication will be available from V&A Publishing in the UK and the rest of the world, and from Rizzoli in North America.

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