Naomi just turned 40 and celebrated it in Cannes with her close friends last month. She appeared stunning and shining. Was it happiness that made her glow?
For sure, "40" was not a bad news for this iconic top model. Her feline silhouette contributed to her fame, being one of the first black models among the tops is her pride. She led the way to a new approach to modelling. Known for expressing her convictions, she is a woman of deeds.
She has grown up since she first started to run the catwalk and has realised how lucky she has been and still is.
Life is about timing; meeting with Nelson Mandela in 1992 was a turning point. She enrolled in charity, and step by step, has developed her actions.
Not nostalgic about the past, she speaks out on the memorable and incredible journey she embarked on 25 years ago.
1/ Describe your past in three words.
NC: Privileged, colourful and memorable.
2/ Three words to tell us about your future...
NC: Peace, happiness and positivity.
3/ What did you enjoy the most and would do again and again?
NC: The whole journey for me has been incredible – I have been blessed with such a fortunate life. I have met so many inspiring people along the way with whom I have shared memorable moments.
4/ What is the worst mistake you have done in your career?
NC: I hold my hands up and say that I have done a few mistakes throughout my career – I am older and wiser now. I have learned and paid for my mistakes.
5/ If you were to interview Naomi Campbell back in the mid-eighties what would you ask her?
NC: I would ask her where she thinks her career will take her – in those days, I had no idea that I would still be modeling 25 years later.
6/ What would be your advices for a model that is starting her career in 2010?
NC: Be bold, beautiful and strong and most of all believe in yourself, it is a tough and competitive industry – Nelson Mandela told me a long time ago that one should have an opinion and speak one's mind and not be afraid of speaking loud – I have lived my life and career by these rules.
7/ If you had not chosen to be a model, do you think you would have worked in fashion?
NC: Yes I think in some context I would have always worked within the fashion world, I've always loved Fashion. I studied Theater Arts and Dance, and in many ways they are incorporated today. I love my day job and feel very blessed to do what I do!
8/ Are you eighties nostalgic?
NC: No, I wouldn’t say nostalgic, the eighties were a fantastic time – everyone could be creative and I had an amazing experience. The eighties for me were an exciting whirlwind - a lot of traveling, fun and adventure - working with a group of friends Linda, Christy, Cindy, Tatiana, Stephanie - It was the beginning of great, lifelong friendships. I first met with Steven Meisel and Rifat Ozbek in those years so it was also a time in which I developed great working relationships - people with whom I still work today.
9/ What did you have to give up because of your fame?
NC: Privacy is the thing that you lose, which can be hard to accept sometimes.
10/ To what extend did the fashion industry change in the past 20 years?
NC: There have been significant changes within the modeling industry over the past 20 years. Seeing black and ethnic models on the catwalk and in advertising campaigns has always been something I have felt passionate about. It wasn’t easy when I first started and in some ways its not easy now but I had great support from some of the models and designers and I was conscious that times were changing. There is still a way to go though.
11/ Do you think that we are working towards a better world?
NC: Yes – I know I am certainly working towards giving mothers and babies across the world a better start in life which they deserve through the WRA (the White Ribbon Alliance) and their Maternal Health program. I think it is about everyone doing his or her bit.
12/ Why did you get into charity work and actually have developed it more and more lately?
NC: I have been involved in charity work since 1992 when I met Nelson Mandela and started to work with the NMCF (Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund), it’s something I have always been very passionate about. In recent years I felt that the fashion industry could be used in a way to help and give back to those that are less fortunate. The Fashion for Relief concept was set up to raise money for incredibly worthy causes in a fun way and it has been a great experience for me. I have hosted charity fashion shows in New York, Tanzania, Mumbai, London and most recently Russia to help mothers and babies around the world who are still not receiving enough help to live in good sanitary conditions.
13/ Do you think charity should be on everybody’s To do list?
NC: Absolutely, we should use the power we have to make an effort and consciously help others. Everyone can give a little something and it is very rewarding.
14/ What does luxury mean today?
NC: Luxury is something very personal – to me it is about spending time with the ones I love.
15/ What is it about Italy that you love?
NC: Where do I start…the food, the culture, the Italian lifestyle but maybe most importantly the people and the passion they put in what they do. It is truly magic, I have a lot of good memories attached to Italy.
16) What do you remember about Gianni Versace?
NC: He considered me as family, he was amazing and taught me a lot. he was well educated, had a good knowledge in art, classic music, and was aware of what was happening in the world. He was very protective and cared about us and not only when we worked for him. He was concerned by our well-being. He is part of my life.
17/ What will you remember about Alexander McQueen?
NC: Our dinners.
Swide’s 5 Q/A
1/ Red or black velvet?
NC: black velvet.
2/ Leopard or zebra print?
3/ Bustier or corset?
4/ Lace or leather?
5/ Stilettos or wedges?
Read more about Naomi on Swide.com.
Interview by Giuliano Federico.