The Naomissance is upon us: Naomi Campbell returns to the top of the fashion world
The year 1990 was a good one for Naomi Campbell. That January opened with a spot on that supermodel cover of British Vogue, alongside Cindy, Christy and Linda. After that came the covers of French and Italian Vogue, as well as posing for Peter Lindbergh in a convertible full of dalmatians in a classic Grace Coddington shoot for American Vogue (that still turns up on moodboards to this day), walking for Gianni Versace in Milan and lip-syncing for George Michael’s Freedom ‘90 video. Not bad.
Now 2017 looks to be an equally good year for Campbell, now aged 47, a career arc that defies the norms of modelling. This is the age of the Naomissance.
Campbell’s profile in the fashion industry is higher right now than it has been since she ruled the catwalk two decades ago. As newly installed contributing editor of British Vogue, Campbell took an unmistakably powerful seat in the front row of the Burberry show at London fashion week, between editor-in-chief Edward Enninful and Kate Moss, who is also on the Vogue masthead. At Paris fashion week, Campbell was snapped emerging from lunch at the Ritz with fellow supermodel and former French first lady Carla Bruni. And on the Friday night of Milan fashion week she almost broke the internet in her metal-mesh Versace gown, as the central figure in the five-strong lineup of supermodels who joined Donatella for a catwalk tribute to her late brother.
It is quite the turnaround for brand Naomi, which not so long ago spent the best part of a decade under the shadow of four convictions for assault. Then there was the tawdry business of the blood diamonds, an unedifying tale of “dirty-looking stones” being handed over late at night, and an eventual court appearance at Charles Taylor’s war crimes trial. None of this was helped by Campbell’s tin ear for the handling of these episodes. She wore a silver Dolce & Gabbana gown for community service in New York (“what do they expect me to do – Walk in looking all drib and drab?”) and initially declined her subpoena from The Hague, declaring it a “big inconvenience”.