Supermodel, entrepreneur, activist, innovator… Naomi Campbell has blazed a trail in the fashion industry for 40 years. And now her extraordinary career is to be spotlighted in a blockbuster exhibition at the V&A, Naomi. The retrospective – the first of its kind – opens in June 2024 and promises to be a glittering celebration of one of the most influential figures in contemporary culture of our time.
Naomi Campbell is so famous, she need only go by her first name. Now into the fourth decade of her unequalled career, she has graced the cover of hundreds of glossy magazines, appeared in campaigns for every major fashion house and is the eternal queen of the runway. So it seems only fitting that she is to be honoured with a career retrospective at the V&A.
The Victoria and Albert museum announced this week that it will be staging a major exhibition – simply called Naomi – which will chart the Streatham-born supermodel’s journey since she was first discovered in Covent Garden aged 15. Opening next June, the show has been produced in collaboration with Naomi, “foregrounding her voice and perspective”.
It promises to be dazzling. Around 100 looks will be on display including pieces from Naomi’s own extensive wardrobe of haute couture and ready-to-wear. There’ll also be loans from global designers, many of whom became dear friends to Naomi over the years, including Azzedine Alaïa, Gianni and Donatella Versace, and Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. Indeed, Naomi stars in the AW23 campaign and, earlier this week, closed Sarah’s final show as creative director of the house.
Visitors will also be able to admire objects from the V&A’s extensive archives including the towering purple platforms responsible for her infamous fall at the Vivienne Westwood show in 1993. Fashion photography will feature prominently, with imagery from all the greats (Nick Knight, Steven Meisel, Tim Walker) forming an installation curated by British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful OBE.
The Naomi Campbell exhibition will also recognise the supermodel’s mentors, notably Nelson Mandela who she met in 1994 and with whom she formed a close bond. It was Mandela who inspired Naomi to use her platform to help bring about change and campaign for social justice. She has forever been a trailblazer for diversity, and is indefatigable when it comes to philanthropy. The exhibition will spotlight her early work – including joining the Black Girls Coalition in 1989 – and her ongoing active support of emerging creatives through events such as Arise Fashion Week and her global initiative EMERGE, founded in 2022.
No stranger to putting on a blockbuster show, it’s the first time the V&A museum has honoured a model. Previous fashion exhibitions have hitherto focused on a designer (Christian Dior, Mary Quant and the current Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto) or an era of fashion history. Singers have also had their time in the spotlight, including David Bowie, The Supremes, Kylie Minogue and Annie Lennox. “I’m honoured to be asked by the V&A to share my life in clothes with the world,” Naomi says.
NAOMI will run from 22 June 2024 to 6 April 2025