Naomi Campbell: The First Supermodel with a Solo Fashion Exhibition at the V&A

by Joseph Omoniyi
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Naomi Campbell, an icon in the fashion world, has made history as the first supermodel to have her own solo fashion exhibition. The exhibition, held at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, opened to the public on June 22, 2024, and runs until April 6, 2025. It features a stunning array of outfits from Campbell’s private collection, offering an intimate look into her illustrious 40-year career.

The exhibition showcases around 80 garments, complemented by photos and items from Campbell’s personal archive. Curated by Elizabeth Murray, the display highlights some of the most memorable pieces worn by Campbell, including an Yves Saint Laurent dress adorned with white fluffy bird of paradise feathers and the iconic blue Vivienne Westwood “mock croc” shoes that led to her famous tumble on the catwalk in 1993.

Visitors can explore Campbell’s close relationships with renowned designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Gianni Versace, and Alexander McQueen. The exhibit includes numerous dresses she wore on the catwalk, for photoshoots, or at special events. One section pays tribute to her bond with Tunisian-born couturier Azzedine Alaïa, featuring the leopard print bodysuit she wore for a shoot with Herb Ritts in 1991 and a selection of Alaïa’s custom-made dresses.

Murray emphasizes the significance of Campbell’s impact on emerging fashion talent, highlighting designs by Nigeria’s Kenneth Ize and British designer Torishéju Dumi. “Naomi’s influence on the careers of young designers cannot be overstated. She strategically and intentionally uses her platform to elevate new talent,” Murray noted.

The exhibition also captures Campbell’s ability to turn any moment into a fashion statement. It features the sparkling Dolce & Gabbana dress she wore while completing community service in New York in 2007 and the Burberry cape she donned over a hazmat suit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reflecting on her career, Campbell expressed her hope that the exhibition will allow visitors to understand her more personally. “I want people to see the workmanship and the creatives I’ve collaborated with over these four decades. Through this narrative, I hope they understand me as a person,” she said.

Popular Nigerian DJ Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola, known professionally as DJ Cuppy, and her sister, actress Temi Otedola, were also in attendance. DJ Cuppy shared her admiration on Instagram: “When QUEEN @Naomi beckons you—you answer 👑🎀 Congrats on your new @VAMuseum exhibition, Naomi. We are all truly in AWE of you. As a black woman, I am SO inspired by the legacy you have built. More importantly, I’m blessed to call you my friend, my sister, my confidant. NOBODY has stood the test of time like MY Omi 💜 May God keep blessing you 🕊️✨ You deserve everything in the world and more. I love you deep.”

British heavyweight Champion, Anthony Joshua was also at the exhibition.

Campbell’s exhibition follows in the footsteps of solo exhibitions dedicated to icons like David Bowie, Frida Kahlo, and Kylie Minogue at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The 54-year-old supermodel aims to share her journey, the designers she worked with, and her activism through this exhibition.

Despite the challenges she faced, including racism and being the first black woman on the covers of Time and Vogue France, Campbell has remained a steadfast advocate for diversity in the fashion industry. She candidly spoke about the obstacles she encountered and her determination to overcome them. “It’s a way of life where you become conditioned to deal with it, to be proactive, and find a way around it,” she remarked.

Read also: The Life and Legacy of Joyce Ntila Banda, Former President of Malawi

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