The Victoria and Albert Museum is set to honour supermodel Naomi Campbell in a new career retrospective exhibition titled NAOMI, which will take over the art space in 2024.
The Streatham-born Londoner will be the centre of one of the V&A’s upcoming exhibitions, which will explore her rise through the fashion industry. As well as showcasing pieces from Campbell’s own personal wardrobe archive, some of her iconic runway looks are also set to be displayed as part of the collection.
The exhibition, which is based on the fashion icon, will open at the Victoria and Albert Museum in June next summer. The NAOMI collection is set to take over the V&A for a total of 10 months.
With the announcement aptly coming during this Black History Month, the Naomi Campbell exhibition at the V&A will be showcasing the supermodel’s work as a diversity champion as well as her decades in the fashion industry.
The model’s 40-year career will be chronicled at the prestigious London museum through 100 carefully curated outfits she has worn throughout the years.
Sonnet Stanfill, senior curator of fashion at the V&A and lead curator for the NAOMI exhibition, said: “It’s a rich array of high quality high fashion… also being able to showcase her work as an activist, a philanthropist and a creative collaborator, so she’s not a kind of passive clothes hanger.
“Naomi has become a cultural figure in her own right.” It marks the first time that the V&A has held an exhibition focusing on the career of a fashion model, but Stanfill said that she believes this is an important addition to scholarship.
Campbell was scouted at the age of 15-years-old in Covent Garden, in London, before a rapid rise to prominence - famously becoming the first Black model to feature on the cover of Paris Vogue at 18 in 1988. Now 53, she is continuing to work as a high fashion supermodel for top designer labels around the world, including Dolce & Gabbana during the resent Milan Fashion Week.
She is one of the original “supermodels”, coining the title in the early 90s, when she appeared on the cover of British Vogue alongside Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and the late Tatiana Patitz. Naomi also became well known for her activism and championing of social issues, widely campaigning and fundraising in South Africa and across the world, crediting her charity work to Nelson Mandela. He named her ‘Honorary Granddaughter’ for her philanthropic work.
In 2021, Campbell’s founded, Fashion for Relief, which was created to raise funds for children living in poverty and adversity around the world, was said to have raised millions over the years through its annual charity fashion show.
The exhibition’s lead curator, Stanfill, said: “The exhibition carries a narrative arc that incorporates some of her own biography…and we will certainly explore in the label text the fact that she’s been a campaigner for equity in the fashion industry throughout her career.
“We will also have some garments that she has worn for charity fundraising events and garments she has worn to receive awards acknowledging her charity work…so I hope that will provide an important visual for people to help to tell the story.”
“Our visitors will expect not just to see a partial story, but a story that tells a little bit more of the nuance about the fact that with high profile comes high pressure,” she said.
“It’s a really unique privilege for the V&A to be able for the first time to talk about the skills and the training and the talent and the hard work that’s involved in the career of a fashion model, and one that is kind of the exemplar in the field.” The exhibition will from June 22, 2024, to April 6, 2025.