Photo: Marco Bahler
Naomi—which will open on June 22, 2024, and run until April 6, 2025—will be a “broad survey of past and present”, with an emphasis on designers who helped shape her early career, such as Azzedine Alaïa (or “Papa”, as Campbell called him), Yves Saint Laurent and Gianni Versace, but also an exploration of her more recent runway looks. The exhibition will span 100 items in total, with pieces from Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, Virgil Abloh and more set to be included. The only gown Stanfill confirmed will appear is the pink feathered and lace gown Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli designed for the supermodel to wear to the Met Gala in 2019.
Naomi Campbell walking at Dolce & Gabbana during Milan Fashion Week this September.
On Chanel’s spring 1992 couture runway.
Victor VIRGILE/Getty Images
The museum is working closely with Naomi herself to curate the exhibition. “She definitely has a point of view and we’re really fortunate that she wants to express that,” says Stanfill. “I think it would be presumptuous for any person to tell another person’s story, let alone one of the most prolific figures in contemporary culture, so we very much want to foreground her perspective and her voice.” The theme for Naomi won’t be simply the most beautiful clothes, but rather the pieces that tell a “layered story about a career and life that started in London.”
The challenge isn’t necessarily the volume of looks to comb through (although there are certainly thousands to choose from), but the inevitable deadline to finalize the exhibit—Stanfill and the V&A team could be adding right “up until the day before the exhibition,” given that the still highly sought-after model will likely walk in the fall 2024 and couture shows before then.
Cristy Turlington and Naomi Campbell.
Jim Smeal/Getty Images
Naomi Campbell at the 2023 Met Gala.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images
Stanfill has been asked whether the showcase is about Naomi’s life or her career. The answer is both, she says. “No one will be surprised to know that for her, her story of Azzedine Alaïa is more than a transactional, professional, career-based relationship, because he was like family to her,” she explains, touching on the more poignant and personal aspects of the exhibition. “So there will be moments like that which are more evocative and sensitive for her, and so it’s important to let her lead in some of those areas.” The late designer, with whom Campbell lived in Paris in the early days of her modeling career, became a beloved father figure.
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