V&A announces exhibition exploring career of British model Naomi Campbell

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) has announced a “first of its kind” exhibition which will explore the “unequalled” 40-year career of model Naomi Campbell.

Titled Naomi, the exhibition will “draw upon” the London-born model’s “own extensive wardrobe of haute couture”, as well as “notable ready-to-wear ensembles”, to be featured alongside loans from designer archives, the museum said.

It will be the first exhibition for the V&A focused on a leading model’s career in fashion told through clothes, combined with powerful imagery and with Campbell’s voice and experience in the foreground.

Fashion for Relief Catwalk – Cannes
Naomi Campbell on the catwalk at the Fashion For Relief show, held during the 64th Cannes International Film Festival in Cannes, France (PA)

Campbell, 53, has had a long-standing relationship with British brand McQueen – walking in runway shows when original creative director Alexander ‘Lee’ McQueen was alive (including the 2004 Black show revisiting his greatest hits) and recently closing Sarah Burton’s last show as creative director at Paris Fashion Week.

She was a constant presence on the Vivienne Westwood runway, famously taking a tumble during the autumn/winter 1993 runway show, when wearing vertiginous purple platform shoes.

As one of the original “supers”, she was known as one of “Gianni’s girls”, in reference to the late designer Gianni Versace.

One of Campbell’s most memorable Versace moments came on the autumn/winter 1991 catwalk, when she walked hand-in-hand with Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista, lip synching to George Michael’s song Freedom!, which they also appeared in the music video for.

A fashion photography installation curated by Campbell’s good friend and outgoing British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful will also feature “prominently” at the exhibition, the V&A said.

Work from photographers Nick Knight, Steven Meisel and Tim Walker will form part of the installation.

Last year Campbell appeared on the March issue cover of British Vogue with her baby daughter, with the cover shoot done by American photographer Meisel.

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

The fashion star has previously credited the late Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, for starting her love of charity, and Mr Mandela and other mentors throughout her life are to be recognised as part of the Naomi exhibition.

Sonnet Stanfill, senior curator of fashion at the 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.”

Campbell’s modelling career took off aged 15 and she is regarded as one of world’s most famous models and in 1988 became the first black model to appear on the cover of French Vogue.

Naomi will run from June 2024 to April 2025 with ticket details to be announced at a later date.

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