_
_
_
_

Naomi Campbell will star in an exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum to celebrate her 40-year-long career

For the first time, the British museum is dedicating an exhibition to a model. It will show a hundred iconic garments from her closet, from the purple Vivienne Westwood platform shoes, in which she tripped during a 1993 fashion show, to the pink feathered Valentino dress she wore at the 2019 Met Gala

Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell with some of the dresses that will be shown in the exhibition dedicated to her at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.Marco Bahler / V&A Museum
Jesús Delgado Barroso

Some clothes are impossible to forget. If Naomi Campbell has worn them during her 40-year career as a model, they become iconic. Take, for example, the purple Vivienne Westwood platform shoes that she tripped in at the label’s autumn-winter 1993 fashion show. Now that they have become a relic and form part of fashion history, the Victoria and Albert Museum will exhibit those shoes, along with another hundred of the supermodel’s iconic garments. It will be the first exhibition that the London museum has dedicated to a model; the exhibit will run from June 22 to April 6, 2025. As the museum describes it, the exhibit is a look inside Campbell’s closet and will show clothes on loan from the model, as well as from the “great personalities” with whom she walked the catwalk during her four-decade-long career. On Wednesday, March 13, Campbell herself presented some of the pieces in a London hotel; they included Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Virgil Abloh and more that will be on display in the gallery. One of the first confirmed items was the lace and feather Valentino dress that Pierpaolo Piccioli designed for Campbell to wear at the 2019 Met Gala; the frock is already part of runway history.

The exhibit is yet another tribute to the 53-year-old model, who became the first black woman to be recognized as a fashion icon by the British Fashion Awards in 2019. The exhibition, which has been christened with a single name — Naomi — will follow the museum’s current exhibit, a retrospective dedicated to the designer Coco Chanel. As the Victoria and Albert Museum says on its website, the exhibition draws on the extensive couture and ready-to-wear ensembles from key moments in Campbell’s career, along with loans from designer archives and objects from the museum’s collections. In addition, everything hints at the British model’s activism. Campbell has fought for equality from an early age: she joined the Black Girls Coalition — an association that protects black women’s rights — in 1989 and appeared on the cover of Vogue Italia’s A Black Issue in 2007, calling for diversity on the catwalk. In the exhibit, the model’s life will be divided into four biographical sections: from her debut at the age of 15 after being discovered in Covent Garden to her status as an archetype in the fashion industry, where she continues to work.

“For me as a fashion historian, what is so fascinating is the way that her 40-year career intersects with the best of high fashion,” exhibition curator Sonnet Stanfill tells Vogue magazine. “We’re telling the story of a career through clothes — clothes that are extraordinary. We are very much working with her to foreground her voice and her perspective,” she adds. The museum will stage the exhibition under Naomi Campbell’s complete supervision over every aspect: “I think it would be presumptuous for any person to tell another person’s story, let alone one of the most prolific figures in contemporary culture, so we very much want to foreground her perspective and her voice,” the curator says.

The Vivienne Westwood platform shoes in which Naomi Campbell tripped at a 1993 fashion show.
The Vivienne Westwood platform shoes in which Naomi Campbell tripped at a 1993 fashion show. Kevin Percival / Courtesy Vivienne Westwood / V&A Museum (© Victoria and Albert Museum, Lo)

Another of the curators is Edward Enninful, the former editor-in-chief of British Vogue, who is responsible for the exhibit’s photographic portion, which will be shown alongside the designs. Friends for years, the supermodel did not want to miss the March cover of British Vogue, with which Enninful — the first black and homosexual man to hold the magazine’s editorship — signed off from his position. The issue brought together 40 of the industry’s greatest personalities in a single photograph.

Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell photographed by Steven Meisel in one of the images that will be shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum; the photo also appears on the museum's website page with information about the exhibit. V&A Museum

In a documentary released in the fall of 2023 — available on YouTube — Campbell presented her new clothing line with the fashion brand PrettyLittleThing. She wanted to introduce herself to today’s youth as a voice of experience in the clothing industry. In the documentary, the model, who became the mother of a daughter for the first time at the age of 50 via surrogate and welcomed another baby into the family last year, says that she doesn’t think the younger generation knows who she is: “I want young girls to take from this collection to be themselves, to feel confident in how they wear these clothes… designed by me, and to interpret who they are in the clothes. So, [it’s about] bringing their own essence, style swag to the outfits,” she said. At least to all outward appearances, the supermodel herself has always been very self-confident: the silver Dolce & Gabbana dress she wore in 2007 to her fifth and final day of community service for assaulting a female employee has gone down in history. Many hope that it will be one of the dresses on display at the Victoria and Albert.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition

More information

Archived In

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
_
_