Naomi Campbell says she fears fashion industry is going backwards on diversity

Trailblazing model says recent collections have caused her concern

Ellie Harrison
Thursday 14 March 2024 10:19 GMT
Naomi Campbell on runway

Naomi Campbell has expressed concern that the fashion industry is “sliding back” on diversity.

The 53-year-old supermodel has been a trailblazer in the industry for almost four decades, having been the first Black model to appear on several Vogue covers around the world.

Campbell made the comments while promoting a solo exhibition on her career at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

During a briefing ahead of the exhibition, as reported by The Times, she paid tribute to the work of Edward Enninful, who made steps to increase inclusivity during his tenure as the first Black editor of British Vogue. She said, however, that she is “nervous” about the future of the industry.

“Will [diversity] remain? That is a question I don’t really want to think about but that is what I’m thinking about, because as I am again looking at the collections, I’m starting to get nervous that we are sliding back,” she said on Wednesday (13 March).

“Why do I stay doing what I do? Because my work is not done. I feel that I have to use my voice and platform to keep at them.”

Campbell has worked to increase diversity in the industry throughout her career. She joined the Black Girls Coalition in 1989 and fronted the 2007 “Black issue” of Vogue Italia.

In 2013, she teamed up with fellow Black models to form an advocacy group, Diversity Coalition, to write an open letter to the governing bodies of global fashion weeks to call out high-profile designers who used either one or zero models of colour in that season’s shows, deeming it a “racist act”.

The exhibition, Naomi: In Fashion, will open in June and will chronicle Campbell’s career of almost 40 years through 100 curated outfits that she has worn throughout her time as a model, both on the runway and in her personal life.

Campbell said the exhibition would include “a lot of personal items that I have never shown to anyone”.

Naomi Campbell promoting the exhibition
Naomi Campbell promoting the exhibition (Invision)

“There is an intimate side to me that a lot of people don’t know and haven’t seen, and don’t know the stories behind the things I’m going to present,” she said. “It has opened up my Pandora’s box.”

The exchibition will delve into her early years in Streatham, south London, where she grew up, and chronicle her childhood passion for dancing, before she was approached by a modelling agent while shopping at the age of 15.

Naomi: In Fashion will also explore the 2007 incident in which the model was sentenced to five days of community service after throwing a mobile phone at her maid. The Dolce & Gabbana gown that she wore on her last day of community service will be on display.

This marks the first time that the South Kensington museum has held an exhibition focusing on the career of a living fashion model.

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

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