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(Credit: Taschen)

Art

A photographic collection: Naomi Campbell, the trailblazing force of fashion modelling

@TomTaylorFO

“I don’t think I was born beautiful. I just think I was born me.” – Naomi Campbell

In 1990, Vogue set out to finally define the term supermodel. In order to do so, they set about casting five faces worth championing with the title. On their first cover of the new decade, Peter Lindbergh photographed Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz and Naomi Campbell. These stars embodied the term and Campbell would soon use the platform to land starring roles in George Michael videos and transcend the catwalk to influence the wider culture around her. 

This journey began at a startlingly young age. As the star once explained, “Well, in brief, I was discovered by a lady called Beth Boldt. She had also been a model. She used to take pictures of the girls she found, and she took a picture of me one day in my school uniform, and it all kind of started from there.” Just before her 16thbirthday, the future face of modelling was on the cover of the British magazine, Elle.

Along the way, however, Campbell would face discrimination in the industry. Her fortitude in the face of this atrocity helped to galvanize the actual models against the bourgeoisie and in a show of solidarity her friends, Turlington and Evangelista, told agencies, “If you don’t use Naomi, you don’t get us.” Thus, in 1987, she became the first black cover girl on Vogue since 1966. 

Vanity Fair would later attest, “She’s a black Bardot, an African Marilyn, the Josephine Baker of the Nineties. Half kitten, half tigress, sexy and innocent, a flowerchild in a career woman’s body.” But, in truth, she is entirely her own thing. Forever striking and fiercely erotic, she has become one of the most gazed upon faces of the era and working tirelessly behind the pages of print. 

If Vogue were to reassess their 1990 cover, then surely, they would retain that Naomi Campbell is a veracious star worthy of the title of supermodel. And yet she is quick to admit that even as a revered star her confidence can be flawed. As she once opined, “Anger is a manifestation of a deeper issue, and that, for me, is based on insecurity, self-esteem and loneliness.” 

This candid self-assessment is not only pried at in her autobiographical extracts in the stunning Taschen collection, Naomi, but it also what makes many of her greatest photographs soar. Behind the fierce disposition and striking allure, is a humanised disposition that she has never been frightened to show. As she once said, “In life, you have to have the vulnerability to accept when you are to blame. And I do have that, and I am open enough to say it.”

All of the images below come from the Taschen publication, Naomi. The collection also features “texts written by Naomi exclusively for this publication alongside magazine covers, ads, video stills, and more. Naomi recalls her childhood; the beginning of her modelling career; working with fashion’s greatest designers, including Azzedine Alaïa, John Galliano, Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Gianni Versace; and her meteoric rise to superstardom.” 

You can find out more and purchase a copy of your own by clicking here.

Naomi Campbell fashion photography:

(Credit: Taschen)
(Credit: Taschen)
(Credit: Taschen)
(Credit: Taschen)
(Credit: Taschen)
(Credit: Taschen)
(Credit: Taschen)