Supermodel Naomi Campbell is styled by Jenke Ahmed Tailly in ‘Wild At Heart’, lensed by Chris Colls for Vogue Arabia November 2018./ Hair by Ro Morgan; makeup by Pat McGrath
Naomi is interviewed by Selina Julien in a look back at her stellar, three decades career. She was “the first black model to appear on the cover of Vogue Paris in 1988 and on Vogue US’s coveted September issue in 1989 – the 1.78m Londoner has been paving the way for the next generation in her own imitable style.” Adding to the reflection as a then exec at Victoria’s Secret, I can say that Naomi was the first black model to appear solo in marketing materials in the holiday windows of all VS retail stores. I believe she was the first black model to ever appear in VS windows, but my memory should be checked.
Campbell doesn’t shy away from discussing the issue of diversity in the industry, writes Julien. “I’m never going to say I wasn’t picked because of the color of my skin and I’d never go down that route, even if it was the case,” she says defiantly. “It would just give me more strength and perseverance for me to go out there and get what I want.” Teaming up with fellow veterans of the modeling world Iman and Bethann Hardison, “the trio champions inclusion to ensure that the number of black and Asian women on magazine covers, on runways, and in campaigns is balanced.”
Iman reflected on their infamous 2013 letter to the fashion industry in her recent Porter Edit Interview.
“We didn’t want the girls to hinder their careers in any way or be singled out, so we said that we would speak out about it. Honestly, I’m so proud and happy that finally what we’ve been saying is now coming to fruition. And most importantly – that it stays that way. Now, we need to see consistency and commitment.” Donatella Versace heralds Campbell’s sense of purpose and strength in character, sharing, “She pushed fashion forward as a woman who believes in very precise ideals of inclusivity and diversity rather than a celebrity.”
Before you read on at Vogue Arabia, Naomi does add a few critical words of wisdom about her past mistakes.
Living in the spotlight since she was a teenager, Campbell admits it’s been a rollercoaster ride, but hey-Naomi is a survivor.one. “I’ve made my mistakes. I’ve owned them, and I’ve learned from them, so I won’t be held hostage by them,” she says unapologetically. “Being in denial is a very dangerous place to be and I’m not someone who’s ever been in that place. I don’t live in fear; I try to live in faith. I’m an optimistic person and I always want to see the best of a situation.”
Looking forward to December 2018 and the blockbuster Global Citizen Festival Mandela 100, Naomi reflects yet again. “This year I chose not to go to the Met Ball. Instead, I went to Lesotho with UNAids and met young women who have terminal diseases,” she says. “I left there so inspired.” She’s heading to South Africa imminently, where she will help produce the Global Citizen Festival Mandela 100. Music’s first couple, Beyoncé and Jay Z, are headlining, with fellow A-listers flying in to support the cause on December 2. “It’s a great line-up and everyone is coming out of the goodness of their hearts. No one will be paid.”