Naomi Campbell exhibition to present a ‘cornucopia’ of career artefacts

A new exhibition about the life of British supermodel Naomi Campbell will take visitors through a “cornucopia” of artefacts from her 40-year career, according to its curator.

Naomi In Fashion will launch at London’s V&A Museum on Saturday June 22 and is the first exhibition to focus solely on a single supermodel, telling Campbell’s story from her dancing beginnings to the height of her 1990s fame.

Visitors begin at a pair of dancing shoes from her childhood career, when Campbell featured in music videos for the likes of Bob Marley and Culture Club from the age of just eight.

Colourful dresses from Naomi Campbell's career displayed on a stage
An array of dresses from Campbell’s own collection are on display at the exhibition (Lucy North/PA)

From there, the exhibition takes fans through the highs and lows of the south London-born supermodel’s 40 years in the spotlight.

Classic outfits displayed include the Vivienne Westwood Super Elevated Gillie Shoes and Ensemble, which caused her to tumble on a Paris catwalk, and a glittering Dolce and Gabbana dress she wore on her last day of community service in New York after throwing her phone at an employee in 2007.

Notably, many of the pieces on display come from Campbell’s own archive, according to V&A fashion curator Elisabeth Murray.

She told the PA news agency: “Lots of these pieces don’t exist anymore outside of individual archives so the fact she has kept them and then been able to layer on her stories has really lifted it.

“It’s really a cornucopia of fashion from the last 40 years.”

Ms Murray, says the famous Westwood platform shoes have been a part of the museum’s collection since the 1993 tumble but this is the first time they have ever been reunited with the ensemble Campbell wore on the catwalk.

A tartan Vivienne Westwood dress worn by Naomi Campbell on display at the exhibition
A tartan dress worn by Naomi Campbell during Vivienne Westwood’s Fall 1994 Ready-to-Wear fashion show is on display at the exhibition (Lucy North/PA)

She added: “I think it is something people are really excited to see, it’s a really interesting one in terms of Campbell’s impact.

“She talks a lot about that moment and how afterwards so many other designers asked her to fall on the catwalk because there was so much press around it.

“She said no because that’s against her professional ethics so it’s just a really exciting and important piece of the show.”

Other important outfits featured include the Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel gold jacket and blue breeches she wore on her first Vogue cover at just 17 and the Azzedine Alaia leopard bodysuit she was photographed in by Herb Ritts for Interview magazine.

Alaia is the only designer to have his own section in the exhibition, which curators say is a “testament to the close relationship Naomi had with him” as an “instrumental” figure in her early career.

Eye catching pieces from Naomi Campbell's career on manikins including a dress shaped like a car
Naomi In Fashion uses artefacts from throughout her career to tell the story of the supermodel’s life (PA/Lucy North)

In the centre of the exhibition is a recreation of a Claridge’s hotel room she stayed at while living “from hotel room to hotel room” during the height of the supermodel era, styled by Campbell herself and featuring actual furniture contributed by the London hotel.

Campbell has put her own stamp on the displays, with Ms Murray saying the supermodel had been “very generous with her time” discussing the outfits at length and giving anecdotes from her career.

She added: “What’s really great about this exhibition and one of the reasons we were so keen to work with Naomi is that she has collected the pieces from throughout her career.

“It’s a really unique thing to have kept so much of the material and I think that helps with the richness of the show.”

Naomi In Fashion will run from Saturday, June 22, 2024, to Sunday, April 6, 2025.

Tickets without a donation to the V&A Museum cost £16 for adults and £10 for those under-26, while children under-12 go free.