Naomi Campbell honoured as Fashion Icon of the Year

Katie Gallagher

World renowned supermodel Naomi Campbell, a fashion icon and superstar persona in the fashion world for three decades now, has been accredited for her contribution and legacy in fashion history recently.

The Council of Fashion Designers  of America announced that Naomi Campbell will be this year’s Fashion Icon Award recipient, an honour that puts her amongst the ranks of her friends and famous faces that have received the same honor. Rihanna, Beyoncé, David Bowie, Pharrell Williams and Kate Moss have all been declared CFDA “icons” in years past.

Osarenomase Odigie, AKA Amy, a 20 year old from Nigeria who is working and studying in Dublin described Campbell as an inspiration and as the most successful black model alive.

“She has empowered black upcoming models in the world, she is an activist, a philanthropist, an inspiration to every melanin youngsters out there in the fashion world. Her drive, spirit, power, beauty, strength, courage is everything to me. If Naomi Campbell can do it, you and I can make headlines,” she said.

“I have learned from her that whatever obstacles are in my pathway to success I have got one obligation; to bulldoze my way through it,” she continued, highlighting the hard work and lasting legacy the supermodel has acclaimed over the past thirty years.

In the early days, a young Campbell was scouted by the head of a model agency when she was still only fifteen, and within a few months she was on the cover of British Elle.

Her career took off from there, and over the next few years she represented top designers like Versace while strutting down the runway. By the end of the eighties, Campbell along with model friends Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington who were known in the industry as the ‘trinity, became the most recognisable sought-after models of their time.

As the years went on, Campbell landed herself on the runway of multiple fashion shows. By 1990, the now supermodel was declared “the reigning megamodel of them all” by Interview magazine.

Campbell, alongside fellow models Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer and Kate Moss, formed an elite group of models later declared “supermodels.” They were also known as the “Big Six” and the most in-demand models of their generation.

Campbell, who participated in some of the best and most renowned work that fashion history will ever remember, became a fully-fledged international superstar both through her larger than life personality and iconic status in the fashion world. By the late nineties, she even bagged her own Barbie Doll replica.

However, the supermodel turned superstar was no stranger to controversy and trouble with a few brushes of scandal. Yet, despite being fired from Elite Model Management in 1993 due to her “manipulative, scheming, rude and impossible” behavior, Campbell continued to forge her own modeling career.

“She taught me not to dwell on acute turmoils, always stand up with your head up high and have a strong will over your mission and vision in life,” Amy said.

By 1999, Campbell released her first fragrance called “Naomi Campbell,” and went on to release another 15 fragrances.

Fast forward three years to 2002 when the supermodel was back strutting down the runway as a Victoria secret model. One of the most wanted and coveted shows in the fashion industry, Campbell was living the model dream and walked the Victoria Secret Fashion Show in 2003 and 2005 too.

When Campbell was keeping her bad girl status out of headlines and trying to stay out of trouble, she was dabbling in other ventures. She wrote her first book “Swan,” and in the same year she released a hip-hop album “babywoman.” However, both ventures were unsuccessful and were the last time she tried music. Never one to fully disappear from the limelight or consider retirement, Campbell soon returned to modeling after a brief hiatus and again the international supermodel was in high demand.

However, with international icon status and young fame often comes personal strain and struggle and not everything in Campbell’s life proved quite as successful. In 1999, she entered rehab after a five-year addiction to cocaine. In the early 2000’s, news about Campbell’s drug problem was splashed all over the news as the “Daily Mirror” published a report of her addiction and a photo of her leaving a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, which led on to the infamous legal battle. However, the model overcame the struggle and remains a coveted supermodel with superstar status today.

In more recent years, Campbell has performed in the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games, served as a judge and coach on “The Face”, Oxygen’s modeling show, and became the face of Burberry’s 2015 collection.

In 2016, she released her new Taschen tome, a massive two-part book that provides an extensive and candid overview of her life and career, from her early beginnings in London to the height of the ’90s supermodel mania to the present day.

“The book is a culmination of my life’s work. It includes all that I’ve done in the fashion business for the past 29 and a half years. The book is a timeline of my career, and has allowed me to remember and give credit to all the wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years,” Campbell told Garage magazine.

“Campbell has built the kind of persona that warrants a two-volume coffee-table book by tempering her out-of-this-world looks with a heavy dose of realness,” New York Magazine said, summing up this supermodel’s iconic legacy status.

Katie Gallagher

Image Credit: Thierry Le Gouès