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Here’s everything you need to know about the V&A’s Naomi Campbell exhibition



Here’s everything you need to know about the V&A’s Naomi Campbell exhibition

Following the fascinating exploration of Coco Chanel’s life and the crowd-pleasing history of the diva, London’s Victoria & Albert Museum next headline exhibition – which opens this week – will celebrate the life and career of one of the original Nineties supermodels: Naomi Campbell.

Naomi: In Fashion, sponsored by BOSS, will tell the story of Campbell’s impressive four-decade-long career as one of the most famous models in history. Campbell, who says she was “honoured to be asked by the V&A to share my life in clothes with the world”, has appeared on countless catwalks, starred in hundreds of fashion campaigns and worked with the industry’s most prestigious designers and photographers over the past 40 years. Her career began at an early age: she was scouted in Covent Garden at just 15, and made history a few years later as the first Black model to feature on the cover of Paris Vogue at 18 years old in 1988. She was later branded one of the original supermodels of the 1990s, alongside contemporaries such as Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer.

preview for Naomi Campbell on the Fashion for Relief catwalk in 2010
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Dave Benett//Getty Images

A young Naomi Campbell, pictured with Kate Moss

What will Naomi: In Fashion include?

Produced in collaboration with Campbell and foregrounding her voice and perspective, the V&A has said that the exhibition 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”.

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 and that famous pair of staggeringly high Vivienne Westwood platform shoes worn by Campbell during her now-iconic 1993 catwalk fall.

naomi campbell va

Courtesy of the V&A

Campbell pictured at the V&A

The exhibition will include around 100 looks and accessories from the best of global high fashion, chronicling Campbell’s years in the industry. Visitors will be treated to 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.

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 at the exhibition, curated by Edward Enninful OBE.

“Naomi Campbell’s extraordinary career intersects with the best of high fashion,” said Sonnet Stanfill, the senior curator of fashion at the V&A. “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 campbell

Victoria and Albert Museum

An Azzedine Alaïa piece that features in the exhibition

naomi campbell

Kevin Percival

The famous Vivienne Westwood platforms Campbell wore in 1993

As well as her role in the fashion industry, Naomi: In Fashion will also touch on Campbell’s activism and cultural leadership, featuring prominent figures such as Nelson Mandela, whom she credits with opening her eyes to social injustice and inspiring her to use her platform for social change. The model joined the Black Girls Coalition in 1989 and has campaigned for The Diversity Coalition since 2013, alongside Iman and Bethann Hardison, to champion diversity on the catwalk. Naomi: In Fashion will also touch on her encouragement of emerging creatives, as seen through the global initiative Emerge, which she founded last year.

milan, italy february 24 a model walks the runway during the dolce  gabbana ready to wear fallwinter 2024 2025 fashion show as part of the milan fashion week on february 24, 2024 in milan, italy photo by victor virgilegamma rapho via getty images

Victor Virgile

On the catwalk for Dolce & Gabbana in 2024

How will the exhibition be laid out?

The exhibition opens with high-impact clips of Campbell on the catwalk, illustrating her legendary ‘walk’, and setting the scene for the supermodel’s career. The first section, ‘Becoming Naomi’, charts her childhood as a south-Londoner in the 1970s, when she 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 acclaimed designers in London, Paris, Milan and New York.

naomi campbell

Victoria and Albert Museum

A young Campbell, pictured in the Seventies

The next section, ‘Supermodel’, references Naomi and her peers in the Nineties, when fashion had become mass entertainment. Campbell, though still in her teens, was at the centre of this, and leading designers championed her talents. She moved beyond the world of fashion, performing in music videos, launching her own perfume and becoming a champion of diversity.

The exhibition then moves on to ‘Azzedine Alaïa’, a section which focuses on Campbell’s relationship with the late designer and the way she inspired his work, before a section dedicated to ‘New York’, where Campbell moved aged 17, to throw herself into the city’s buzzing fashion and social scene.

naomi campbell and azzedine alaia dinner given at the foundation giorgio cini isola di san giorgio for the exhibition sequence 1 painting and sculpture at the palazzo grassi during the biennale of venice 2007 photo by bertrand rindoff petroffgetty images

Bertrand Rindoff Petroff//Getty Images

Campbell with Azzedine Alaïa in 2007

‘The Spotlight explores a highly publicised biographical moment, when Campbell served a period of court ordered community service. It’s followed by ‘Exemplar’, which looks at Campbell’s early collaborations with fashion houses from Dolce & Gabbana and Vivienne Westwood to Jean Paul Gautier, and ‘Alchemy’, focusing on Campbell’s unique relationship with the camera and world-renowned photographers, including Steven Meisel, Arthur Elgort, Patrick Demarchelier and David Bailey. The final section, ‘Archetype’, recognises Campbell’s advocating for friends, career-defining moments and work with emerging designers.

How can I book tickets?

Naomi: In Fashion will run from 22 June 2024 until 6 April 2025 at the V&A. Tickets, which can be booked here now, cost £16 each.

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