Naomi Campbell Jesse Gross

Naomi Campbell

Model

One of fashion’s most recognisable faces and part of the 1990s supermodel elite, she continues to model for select projects.

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United Kingdom Models & Muses

One of fashion’s most recognisable faces and part of the 1990s supermodel elite, she continues to model for select projects.

Naomi Campbell's live mosaic

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Biography

One of the elite group of models who were directly responsible for the term ‘supermodel’ being coined, and its only black member, Naomi Campbell’s career spans 27 years and is set to continue, due to her enduring editorial and campaign work and her television show The Face, in which she both stars and acts as an executive producer.

Campbell studied at Italia Conti Academy stage school and appeared in music videos for Bob Marley and Culture Club before signing with Synchro modeling agency at age 15. Her career quickly took off. Just before her 16th birthday, Campbell fortuitously appeared on the cover of British Elle, following another model dropping out at the last minute.

In August of 1988, she became the first black model to appear on the cover of French Vogue, allegedly after her friend and mentor Yves Saint Laurent threatened to withdraw his advertising from the magazine if it continued to refuse to place black models on its cover. The following year she appeared on the cover of American Vogue, which marked the first time a black model had graced the front of the September issue, traditionally the year's biggest and most important issue.

When faced with racial discrimination, Campbell received support from her model friends and colleagues. She later quoted Turlington and Evangelista as telling Dolce & Gabbana, "If you don't use Naomi, you don't get us." In 1997, The Guardian reported Campbell as stating, "There is prejudice. It is a problem and I can't go along any more with brushing it under the carpet. This business is about selling, and blonde and blue-eyed girls are what sells."

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