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Naomi Campbell recounts how the fashion industry has changed

The supermodel says her appearances on magazine covers weren’t guaranteed early in her career
Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell (Photo credit: Bang Media)

Naomi Campell doesn’t think fashion will see the likes of Gianni Versace or Vivienne Westwood again.

The supermodel is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at London’s V+A museum. She was happy to use the retrospective to shine a light on all the “creatives” she has worked with over the years because she thinks the industry has changed a lot since the early days of her catwalk career.

“I also wanted to share with people the workmanship of all the designers I worked with over the years, and all those creatives I got to work with, some of whom are still with us and some are gone,” Campbell said.

“You’re not going to have another Gianni Versace, another Vivienne Westwood, Azzedine Aliaia or Alexander McQueen. They were gems. These people were perfectionists. It’s a different time now,” she told the Evening Standard.

Campbell feels “honored and blessed” to be the subject of the show but she admitted she felt a “lot of pressure” in telling her story in the right way.

“I feel honored and blessed,” the still-working model said. “It’s been a lot of pressure, going through images I haven’t seen for 25 years. It brought back a lot of emotions, a lot of memories. A lot of stories come up, so there’s a lot of nostalgia.

“It’s the story of a woman trying to get her story across. I’m proud, but I’m more interested in my kids knowing that this is their legacy, too, as well as this being the legacy of my work. It’s about family, too,” Campbell said.

Although Campbell was the first Black woman to cover Vogue France and the first on the cover of U.S. Vogue‘s September issue, she admitted at the time it didn’t “register” how many boundaries she was breaking in her career, with things being particularly tough because the coveted slots weren’t always “confirmed.”

“When you’re actually trying to break those barriers, you don’t really understand what’s happening,” she observed. “You don’t know what you’re doing; you’re just doing it. You don’t have time, and it didn’t register. I was just taking any opportunity.”

“Never forget that when I was being offered all these covers, they were never guaranteed. They were always cover tries, so they could have easily not happened,” the former competition show judge said.

“Throughout the 1990s I was always doing cover tries, never guaranteed covers. That’s what it was like back then for a Black woman. Nothing was ever confirmed. You were always waiting — did I get it, did I not?” she said.

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