Welcome to our new LUXE Models success stories series, where we look at how some of the world’s most famous models became household names. First up, Naomi Campbell – the woman who changed the face of modelling forever.
Becoming a model
Naomi Campbell was born in Streatham, London. She had an extraordinarily international upbringing. During her early years Naomi lived in global fashion centre Rome – where her mother worked as an exotic dancer. She was born for the stage; starting from age three she attended the Barbara Speake Stage School and at age ten, she studied ballet at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London.
But becoming a model was always Naomi’s true destiny. According to her official website, Campbell caught her big break in the industry at the tender age of 15. She was scouted by Beth Boldt, the head of the Synchro Model Agency, while window-shopping in the famous Covent Garden district of London. Boldt signed Campbell and after that, the only way was up.
Naomi quickly shot into the stratosphere. Her big moment came in December 1987 when she appeared on the cover of British Vogue; the first black woman to do so since 1966. She then became the first black woman to appear on the cover of French Vogue in August 1988. One year later Campbell become the first black woman to front the cover of American Vogue’s prestigious September issue.
By the early 90s, Campbell had become one of the original five ‘supermodels.’ – an elite group models dubbed the ‘most famous of all time’ by the fashion industry. Her career has gone from strength to strength ever since. She has appeared on the cover of over 500 magazines and fronted campaigns for numerous fashion brands, including Burberry, Prada, Versace, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton.
What’s amazing about Naomi is that she isn’t just a model – she’s turned herself into a lucrative brand. First, she’s established something of an acting career, putting her early training to good use. Over the years Campbell has appeared on TV programmes such as The Cosby Show and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, as well as music videos such as Michael Jackson’s ‘In the Closet’ and Madonna’s ‘Erotica.’
By 1998 (when TIME Magazine declared the end of the ‘supermodel’ era), Campbell had mostly retired from the catwalk. But she kept herself busy with a number of projects. Naomi’s launched fragrances, continued doing print-work and forged a career in realty TV. Notably, she executive produced and served as a ‘supermodel coach’ on The Face, which on the US’ Oxygen Channel in 2012.
Naomi Campbell serves as the ultimate modelling success story. Spotted at 15, she became one of the most famous models in the world, broke down racial barriers and turned herself into a recognisable brand – changing the face of the industry at every turn throughout her career.