PARIS — Naomi Campbell confessed she’s still a child at heart at the launch of her charity collaboration of the same name with Diesel on Thursday night at the brand’s Paris flagship on Rue Montmartre.
Part of the proceeds from the co-branded Child at Heart hookup, based on T-shirts and hoodies splashed with doodles of ladybugs and hearts made up of wobbly rainbow lines, will go to Campbell’s Fashion for Relief fund dedicated to the welfare of children globally.
“Children, who are the most innocent of all, are being caught in the crossfire. They’re traumatized. I’ve seen it for myself — I’ve been to the refugee camps. This is something I have wanted to do for years, and now we’re doing it,” said Campbell, who will stage her next Fashion for Relief show on May 21 in Cannes, France, with the proceeds going to Save the Children.
Signing T-shirts alongside Diesel and OTB Group owner Renzo Rosso, Campbell at the event, which was followed by a dinner at the Italian embassy, was in a playful mood, gamely resting her marker pen to pose for shots with starry-eyed guests including rising actress Karidja Touré and Maria Borges, the new face of L’Oréal Paris.
When asked what kind of kid she was, the perennial supermodel, who was already in showbiz as a kid having starred in the video for Bob Marley’s “Is This Love,” at age seven, and tap-danced in Culture Club’s “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” at age 13, said: “I was a very active child, very active indeed. First I was a tomboy, then I was a tomboy-slash-ballerina.”
“These illustrations came from kids in our kindergarten [at the Diesel headquarters in Breganze, Italy], which received an award for being the best kindergarten in Europe. We’ve planted vegetables and fruit trees for them, because young kids today don’t know where fruit comes from. Young kids today think that French fries grow on trees,” quipped Rosso who also shared some of his childhood memories.
“I was a very driven kid, I wanted to do something different from the others. I grew up on a farm in a tiny village and the only thing to do was play soccer in front of the church,” he said. “There was one bar, with the only television in the village. I can remember the pope taking his first plane trip and everybody rushing to the bar to watch it.”
“The Diesel offices overlook the kindergarten so the staff and parents can see the kids playing, it’s really sweet,” said the house’s artistic and creative director Nicola Formichetti who was a shy child, “because we traveled a lot and I would have to change schools each time and make new friends. That’s probably why I’m so sociable, you can put me anywhere and I’m fine.”
Of the Child at Heart campaign — lensed by Giampaolo Sgura pro bono and featuring personalities including Aaron De Niro, Kenya Kinski-Jones and Barbara Palvin — Formichetti said: “It was a combination of Naomi calling everybody the night before and mixing in models. For us it was important to represent the world, all types of body types, skin colors, age groups. That’s the age we live in.”
After the success of the house’s “Make Love Not Walls” campaign by David LaChapelle, he’s working on Diesel’s next ad campaign, “a kind of continuation.”
“I never wanted it to be political, for me it was just taking the madness of the world, it was a symbol of the division. Yeah, there was the wall between Mexico and America, but there’s also gender and sexuality, love and hate. I like playing on that.”
It’s been one of the house’s most impactful campaigns in recent years, he said. “It feels like what [Rosso] did in the Nineties, when advertising really hit people’s souls. This campaign is still going viral all around the world, and we’re doing different activations everywhere. We love doing something that’s about more than fashion, that talks about culture and more important things…and this project with Naomi, it’s a continuation of the last campaign in a way,” he added. “She’s such a trooper, and cares about the world so much. It’s nice that we are making charity, and giving back, cool for the younger generations.”