Naomi Campbell talks to Marc Jacobs about 30 years in the spotlight (2023)

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Although he built a career walking,Naomi CampbellI was never ashamed to speak. A model so incredible that it demanded a new term for her level of glamour, the girl who was discovered in her native London at the age of 15 has pursued a singular and enduring career in an industry where that can be in short supply. . And while all of her covers, campaigns and runways speak for themselves, it's Campbell's own voice that rings the loudest. As the most visible black model of her generation, Campbell broke through one barrier after another, including becoming the first black person to grace the cover of a French magazine.Moda, in 1988, is the corporal of the AmericanModaThe September issue a year later.

Outside of the fashion world, Campbell has worked with everyone fromGeorge MichaelforVirgen, but it was her relationship with South African President Nelson Mandela, who called her his “honorary granddaughter”, that left the most indelible mark. In the years since first meeting her in 1994, Campbell has become an ambassador for the continent, fighting poverty as she uses her influence to spotlight her young designers. It was in Africa where the stylistMarc JacobsI caught her recently, enjoying the weather and, yes, ready to talk.


MARC JACOBS: Naomi, I miss you so much. Where are you?

NAOMI CAMPBELL: I've been in Africa since December. Here it is easier. There is COVID, don't get me wrong, but it's easier to live outside than inside.

JACOBS: Let me ask you, what is a typical day like for Naomi Campbell?

CAMPBELL: It depends. I stay up late working with my team in Los Angeles. I don't go to bed until 3 am so I don't wake up until 10 or 11. Then I work out and my day begins. People in New York start early, so around 2 or 3 I get messages. I try to be outside as much as I can these days and go to bed tired every day.

JACOBS: Do you get ready and put on your makeup before you start the day?

CAMPBELL: No, no, no. If I'm working out, I'm in gym clothes. After that, I'm in easy clothes. I wear a lot of kaftans, especially when I'm here. High heels aren't happening unless you're working on set. When I have certain things that I have to do, like my virtual ones, I put on makeup. Pat McGrath's makeup is like Playskool paint. You just make it up as you go. I learned better how to do my makeup, especially my eyes.

JACOBS: When was the last time you did the dishes?

CAMPBELL: I don't know.

JACOBS: Do you cook for yourself?

CAMPBELL: I was cooking at the start of the lockdown in New York. I cooked, I cleaned, I did my own laundry. There is nothing I can't do for myself. This is how my grandmother and mother raised me. Such is the Jamaican heritage. There are many things I have to thank the coronavirus for. It brought me many things that were instilled in me as a child.

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JACOBS: Do you watch TV?

CAMPBELL: Yeah. I kind of got away from the news a little bit. I know a lot of people have had to. I'm definitely watching all these wonderful movies that are coming out. All streaming platforms have been amazing. I still like awards season, even if it's virtual. I think the creativity has been incredible during the lockdown.

JACOBS: What is your favorite series?

CAMPBELL: I'm loyal to my Andy Cohen. i'm still watchingreal housewives. You see, I texted Andy over the summer saying, “Atlanta and Beverly Hills are over. What do I do now?" He was like, "LookThe Real Housewives of the Potomac.” And I must say that I liked everything.

JACOBS: Let's go back to cooking for a second. What is the best food to have when you are trying to make a good impression on someone? We had a great time with their Chicken English, but which one is the best?

CAMPBELL: I still do. I still make gravy from Cornish hens. I love cooking pocket salmon, which is salmon with scallions and spices, then cooked in foil. I am learning how to make Nigerian food and jollof rice, which is Ghanaian. Every place I go, I learn to cook something new.

JACOBS: Have you ever tried to impress people?

CAMPBELL: I try to look my best. Whether you call it trying to impress, I'm just trying to be myself. People will have their opinion about you, so you just have to be yourself.

JACOBS:What's the best thing about being you?

CAMPBELL: I'm lucky to have had loyal, strong, and long-standing relationships like the ones I did with you. When we're younger, we don't know what's going to happen, where we're going, or how we're going to end up. It's so nice to see us grow and be in the lives of others, supporting us from far or near, but simply being there.

JACOBS: Was there a time when you wished you weren't Naomi Campbell?

CAMPBELL: I don't think so. He would be ungrateful of me, and people would say,What do you have to complain about? Maybe I do want to do something like go to Luna Park or Magic Mountain, and I want to get over all of that, but no, I own who I am.

JACOBS: This is a fun question and I'm not sure there's an easy answer. What, for you, will be considered your most iconic cultural or fashion moment?

shirt and pantsPrada.t-shirt forPaco Rabanne.armor ofMaratier.

CAMPBELL: That's a very difficult question, isn't it, Marc? There have been so many eras, even just with you. I wouldn't know where to go I like to dress up I appreciate the workmanship of the clothing and the creativity that everyone puts into it. I want to know: “Was it made by hand? How many hours did it take? But what I really want is to help the industry include all the countries that are not included in our business. That's what I'm really focused on in all creative ways, having the same opportunities and platforms as the rest of the world, because they're part of the world.

JACOBS: Here's an easier one. How did you learn to do your walk? Was it natural or did you have help?

CAMPBELL: My dance training may have helped, but it wasn't something I planned. I always said that it was who was wearing and what was wearing that had an important role in the way I walked. I definitely walked different on the same day, because you get a different vibe when you wear someone else's clothes. When someone tells me: "Walk for me, Naomi", in the room or on the street or something like that, I can't. I need all the vibe. Also, when I walk in flats, I walk completely backwards from how I walk down the runway. When I'm wearing sneakers, I walk like a tomboy. Sometimes my toes curl, so who knows? It's like another person.

JACOBS: Charly [Defrancesco, Jacobs' husband] had never seen the old Mugler shows, he put on one and you were in it and he was blown away. I was like, “Yeah, look at Naomi back then. She's crazy."

CAMPBELL: Wow, those shows were hilarious.

JACOBS: It was Diana Ross's. Her jaw dropped.

CAMPBELL: Back then, it was concerts. We didn't know who would be there, everyone from Patty Hearst to Jeff Stryker to Traci, what was her name?

JACOBS: Traci Lords.

CAMPBELL: The porn star. We didn't know! We were all mixed up.

JACOBS: You went way beyond modeling. Is there something you rejected that you now regret?

CAMPBELL: No. I still feel it was right to stand up for my rights as a black woman and not be paid much less financially than I used to get compared to my white counterparts doing the same work. As much as I wanted to have those contracts like my white counterparts of yore (in perfume, makeup, you name it), it was worth keeping my integrity and saying, "No thanks." It was worth it that my agent at the time didn't want to work with me because she didn't want to accept something that demeaned me and my culture.

JACOBS: Great. Is there something you said yes to that you regret?

CAMPBELL: There are a lot of things we say yes to when we're younger that we're not quite clear on. One of the things that really struck me is that we have no control over our image as models, and that's really sad. When I was doing my book with Taschen, there were a few photographers whose names I won't mention but that we know of and who I've worked for over the years for, like, a dollar, who came back saying they wanted all that money. be in the bookAnd I was like, "Sorry, you forgot." youthere's going to have to be a change in our industry where we're protected as better role models than they are because we can't just sign our image and have no ownership over it. That's why making this documentary series [like supermodels] with Linda [Evangelista], Christy [Turlington] and Cindy [Crawford] was very important, because this is our legacy that we're talking about. I'm bringing this up because I feel like it's going to come out sooner or later, so it better come out now. When we signed papers giving up our lives, no one explained anything back then, and when you're younger, you want to be in a magazine so much, or take the pictures, so you just sign these things, but no one really, really explained what it was about. the fine print.

JACOBS: You are absolutely right. Even as a stylist, we provide clothing for editorials, but we don't own the rights to use this image. Only the photographer has the rights, but this is all teamwork, and everyone on that team deserves access to use, keep, or be rewarded for the work they've done.

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CAMPBELL: Basically, I'm talking about this for the first time. I'm not trying to make any headlines, but it's something that's been on my mind a lot and needs to be unraveled and really looked at to benefit everyone. It's not going to change overnight, but it has to change.

JACOBS: What needs to happen is a conversation, and by saying that, you're saying, "I want this to be part of the conversation."

CAMPBELL: Yes. Diversity is a conversation, and now it needs to be a conversation, because young people like Emily Ratajkowski are bringing it up. Already there. The can of worms is open.

JACOBS: When you talk, what is your favorite question people ask?

CAMPBELL: I just sit and rap. I'm definitely not an interviewer, but I'm intrigued by everyone I talk to.

JACOBS: Who is the biggest diva you've ever met?

CAMPBELL: I think divas are a good thing. I don't see the diva as something negative.

JACOBS: Me neither.

CAMPBELL: I actually had a conversation with Mariah and we were discussing this. Divas can be divas because they are bigger than this world in terms of talent. Hug the divas.

JACOBS: The biggest diva I've ever known was Aretha. I was gobsmacked by her.

CAMPBELL: I've met some amazing women: Whitney, Aretha, Tina. I call them queens.

JACOBS: That's a good word.

CAMPBELL: Our black queens.

JACOBS: What or who is your greatest love?

CAMPBELL: As a person in a relationship?

JACOBS: You can answer however you want.

CAMPBELL: I can't answer that question right now. Ask me in a few months.

JACOBS: What's the best gift you've ever received?

CAMPBELL: It was an absolute gift to have President Nelson Mandela in my life for 20 years. It wasn't like she only saw him once a month or once a year. It was a solid grandfather-granddaughter relationship. He would always say, “Why me? I'm the bad girl. I am the underdog.

JACOBS: I'll never forget the Christmas card you sent me with you and Nelson Mandela. I still have it. What is the best part of growing old?

CAMPBELL: Knowledge. Understand that we are never too old to be wrong. We are never too old to learn. We are working in progress and trying to improve ourselves. We come here when we come, and we want to do the best we can while we're here, because one thing we know is we're leaving.

JACOBS: What's the worst thing about getting old?

CAMPBELL: Physically, you have to make sure you stretch, tone up. You can't eat all the things you used to. Energy is so important. I'm 50, but I don't act like I'm 50.

JACOBS: Is there an aspect of fame that you're not used to?

CAMPBELL: I don't like that word. I never tried to be that.

JACOBS: Let's think about this in another way. You are super well known and we all lose our anonymity when we become well known. Is there any aspect of being known that makes you feel uncomfortable?

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CAMPBELL: There will always be something outside of your comfort zone. People will always have misconstrued ideas about what they think your life is like, what you are, what you do, and what you should be doing.

JACOBS: Do you hate it or are you comfortable with it?

CAMPBELL: There's nothing I can do about it except tell people who I am and what I do.

JACOBS: How many times have you walked down the runway wearing something you don't like?

CAMPBELL: My God, so many! What I would do is walk so fast that if you blinked you would miss me. No extra laps, no stopping or delaying. There were a few times in Europe where I had to say, "No, I'm not going to wear that outfit," because it was so stereotypical and I wasn't. I'm not going down the runway looking like a Rastafarian.

JACOBS: What is your greatest achievement?

CAMPBELL: I don't know, because I'm not done yet.

JACOBS: What is your biggest mistake?

CAMPBELL: So many. I should have said more, but back then, if you did, people wouldn't work with you.

JACOBS: You mean talk about your views on people of color?


JACOBS: Thank God forBethany [Hardison], GOOD?

CAMPBELL: Bethann was my support. At 17 or 18 she would call her and tell her everything. She gave me ears, but she also gave me the courage to speak.

JACOBS: If you put yourself in the shoes of someone who doesn't know them, can you finish this sentence as that person? “Naomi Campbell is…”


Naomi Campbell talks to Marc Jacobs about 30 years in the spotlight (6)

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Invent:Daniel SallströmusingPat McGrath LaboratoriesNoMA World Group

List:Anita BittonNoEstablishment List

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lighting direction:Benjamin Tietge

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Photography assistants:Jakub Fulín, Lucas Mathon, dNorth DakotaErwan Petersen

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