The V&A will stage a revelatory exhibition exploring the unequalled 40-year career of fashion model and British icon Naomi Campbell (b. 1970). After being scouted in Covent Garden aged just 15, she quickly rose to prominence in the industry, making history a few years later when, at 18, she became the first Black model to feature on the cover of Paris Vogue (August 1988).
A trailblazer in the field, Naomi Campbell’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 photographer, ensure that after four decades in the fashion industry and British cultural landscape, Campbell continues to star in globalcatwalk shows, advertising campaigns and editorial fashion shoots. In parallel, Campbell’s cultural leadership, activism and championing of emerging creatives transcend the traditional parameters of the fashion catwalk model role. Unique in her field, Campbell is recognised across the world, from London, Milan and Paris, to Beijing, Lagos and New York.
Produced in collaboration with Naomi Campbell and foregrounding her voice and perspective, NAOMI will be the first exhibition of its kind. The exhibition will draw upon Campbell’s own extensive wardrobe of haute couture and leading ready-to-wear ensembles along with loans from designer archives and objects from V&A collection. The exhibition will include around 100 looks from the best of global high fashion chronicling her 40 years in the industry. Visitors will encounter designs by Alexander McQueen, Azzedine Alaïa, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Gianni and Donatella Versace, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Karl Lagerfeld, Kenneth Ize, 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 Nick Knight, Steven Meisel and Tim Walker, will form an installation curated by Edward Enninful OBE.
The exhibition will alsorecognise 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 on-going active support of emerging creatives, through events such as Arise Fashion Week and her global initiative EMERGE, founded in 2022.
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.”