Naomi: In Fashion at the V&A 

Supermodel, activist, mother and mentor Naomi Campbell is the subject of a new blockbuster exhibition at the V&A. Naomi: In Fashion explores the legacy of one of the world’s greatest models and fashion icons. The exhibition traces the path of a young ballet student from Streatham who was spotted by a model agent and had her first ELLE cover aged 15, becoming the first black model to appear on the cover of French Vogue at the age of 18. Up there with cultural legends whose fame is so stratospheric they are known on a first name only basis, Naomi has made such an impact on contemporary culture that she is now given her own retrospective exhibition in her hometown of London. 

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

Trailblazing black models who paved the path for Naomi are credited at the beginning of the V&A exhibition, including Veronica Webb and Beverly Peele. They passed the baton to Naomi, and she spent her career forging a path for models of colour and campaigning for racial equality in the fashion industry. Campbell advocated for equity from an early age, joining the Black Girls Coalition in 1989 and fronting the 2008 ‘black issue’ of Vogue Italia. Along with Bethann Hardison and Iman, she has also campaigned for The Diversity Coalition since 2013 to champion diversity on the catwalk.

Her activism, charity work and friendship with Nelson Mandela are all referenced in the exhibition. Many seminal moments of pop culture involving Naomi are featured, including an appearance with her fellow ‘Super’s in George Michael’s Freedom! 90 music video and her tumble on Vivienne Westwood’s catwalk in 1993.

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

A video wall shows various fashion world insiders including Kate Moss and Derek Basberg, remembering their encounters with Naomi and the huge impression she made on them. A highlight is the iconic Dolce & Gabbana crystal embellished dress Naomi wore as a theatrical Swansong to her community service in New York. The paparazzi had plagued her every day of service, so she decided to go out all guns blazing and make it a fashion moment.  Always serving, always iconic, Naomi needs no introduction and no surname, she is a living fashion moment. 

Display cases and mannequins feature designs worn by Naomi by the world’s most celebrated designers – Versace, McQueen, Dolce e Gabbana, Thierry Mugler, Karl Lagerfield, Isaac Mizrahi and Azzedine Alaia. The exhibition includes around 100 looks and accessories from the best of global high fashion chronicling her 40 years in the industry. 

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

NAOMI: In Fashion explores Naomi Campbell’s unequalled 40-year career and celebrates her collaborations with major fashion houses, fashion publications and leading fashion photographers, whilst championing her cultural leadership, activism and championing of emerging creatives.

Produced in collaboration with Campbell and foregrounding her voice and perspective, NAOMI: In Fashion is the first exhibition of its kind.  The exhibition draws 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 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 a pair of staggeringly high Vivienne Westwood platform shoes worn by Campbell during her famous 1993 catwalk fall. 

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, form a selection of photography curated by Edward Enninful OBE. The selection of photography featured is curated by Edward Enninful OBE. Enninful has said of Campbell: ‘As anyone who has worked with her knows, when Naomi arrives at a shoot, she is there to work.’

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

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

Fashion lovers shouldn’t miss this. Full of seminal pop culture moments with iconic photography, fashion design and music. 

Naomi: In Fashion is at the V&A South Kensington, London, from 22nd June, 2024 

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