With a career spanning three decades, Naomi Campbell has cemented herself in the cultural lexicon as one of the most iconic supermodels.
Campbell, who turns 50 today, began her career in the late Eighties, walking the runways of virtually every major fashion designer where she’s produced several memorable catwalk moments that are still talked about to this day.
Today, Campbell still makes the occasional runway appearance, but keeps them a secret until she steps foot on the catwalk. In a 2019 YouTube video, Campbell stated: “I prefer nowadays when I do shows, I don’t tell anybody. I just appear because I don’t want the pressure. You know, anything can happen.”
Campbell views every runway and designer look differently when taking the runway.
“It’s never been about showing myself,” she said in another YouTube video. “It’s about finding a character within myself to each designer that I work for in relation to the outfit that I’m wearing.”
Here, WWD looks back to seven of Campbell’s most iconic runway moments in celebration of her 50th birthday. Scroll down for more.
Vivienne Westwood Fall 1993
One of Campbell’s most iconic runway moments came at the beginning of her career, when she infamously fell on the catwalk during Vivienne Westwood’s fall 1993 show.
The supermodel was seen teetering on her dangerously high, ballet slipper-like platforms before falling over. Photos show the model laughing at herself before getting back up and continuing her walk.
In an October 2019 video for British Vogue, Campbell sat down with Westwood to reminisce on the moment, telling the designer she felt embarrassed about the fall.
“I felt like I should have practiced more and that comes from my training of dance,” she tells Westwood. “I know how to walk in your shoes now. There’s a trick to walking in your shoes.”
Campbell also made the surprise admission that several fashion designers later asked her to purposefully fall on the runway to try to re-create the moment for their own brands.
Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 1996
Campbell made her first appearance at Victoria’s Secret fashion show in 1996, just a year after the brand started hosting the now-canceled annual lingerie fashion show.
The show was hosted at The Plaza hotel in New York and saw the likes of other Nineties supermodels on the catwalk, including Stephanie Seymour, Helena Christensen and Tyra Banks, among others.
Versace Spring 2018 Ready-to-Wear
Campbell was part of one of the most iconic runway moments of the 2010s when she joined her fellow Nineties supermodels — Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford and Christensen — at Versace’s spring 2018 ready-to-wear show, which was a tribute to Gianni Versace on the 20th anniversary of his death.
The models wore silver dresses as they walked down the runway, joining Donatella Versace as she took her bow.
Louis Vuitton Men’s Fall 2018 Ready-to-Wear
Campbell joined forces with Kate Moss to celebrate Kim Jones’ last runway show as Louis Vuitton’s men’s wear designer, walking the runway in matching monogrammed trenchcoats.
This marked the first time Jones cast female models in his Louis Vuitton shows. Jones later joined the models and walked hand-in-hand as he took his final bow.
Valentino Spring 2019 Couture
Campbell made a surprise appearance during Paris Couture Week for the spring 2019 season, taking the Valentino runway for the first time in 14 years. The model closed the show wearing a transparent black gown with a ruffled skirt.
She later reflected on the runway show on her YouTube channel, stating in a video: “To be back at the legendary house of Valentino after 14 years with the most unbelievably diverse cast is an incredible honor and I really treasure this forever. Honestly, being here today and helping bring to life Pierpaolo’s incredible vision is thrilling, but just a little daunting because I feel responsibility to represent his creative genius and to do justice to his beautiful creations.”
Saint Laurent Spring 2020 Ready-to-Wear
Campbell delighted spectators during Paris Fashion Week’s spring 2020 season when she closed the Saint Laurent show, walking down the long runway overlooking the blinking lights of the Eiffel Tower while wearing a sequined version of the brand’s iconic smoking suit.
Kenneth Ize Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear
In what was a watershed moment for African fashion, Naomi Campbell surprised the crowd at Nigerian designer Kenneth Ize’s debut fall 2020 Paris Fashion Week show by closing the runway dressed in a colorful-striped trenchcoat.
“She made this happen, to be fair,” Ize told WWD. “She’s part of the journey since Day One in my career.”
Prior to the debut show, Ize was a finalist for the LVMH Prize for Young Designers and had shown his collections during Lagos’ Arise Fashion Week, which is co-owned by Campbell.
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