Naomi Campbell interview

by umer | 7:50 AM in |

Naomi Campbell interview--August 20, 2010—Supermodel Naomi Campbell is vacationing on a yacht off the Italian coast with her boyfriend, Russian entrepreneur Vladislav Doronin, and a revolving group of friends that included Quincy Jones and Leonardo DiCaprio and Bar Rafaeli. This year has been a big one for Campbell, who celebrated her 40th birthday in May with a lavish party on the French Riviera. It marks another kind of milestone for her as well, the 25th anniversary of that fateful day in 1985 when she was photographed hanging out in her school uniform on the streets of London, thus launching a career in fashion that’s been both legendary and tumultuous: from her ascent as a teen to the highest echelons of the industry; to the indelible imagery she has been involved in creating; to the deep bonds that she has formed with some of the most important designers of the era; to the new ground she broke as a woman of color in a field that is still troublingly homogenous; to the well-documented personal issues and legal wrangles that have at times threatened to overshadow her remarkable body of work.

The laidback, jovial vibe aboard the boat is a stark contrast to the media furor that surrounded Campbell earlier in August, when she was forced to testify before a war crimes tribunal in the Hague at the highly publicized trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor. But now, a few weeks removed, she seems more relaxed and to have stepped back into her iconic stride. She sat down with one of her shipmates, gallerist Tony Shafrazi, to reflect on the events that have shaped the past 25 years—including the most recent one—and her life both in fashion and beyond.

TONY SHAFRAZI: This year, it’s 25 years since you started working as a model. Today, it’s a miracle to reach the top of any business, let alone the fashion business, and to have stayed there as long as you have and still be so hot, so in it, and so active . . . What you’ve been able to do is amazing for so many reasons. What do you think accounts for it all? How do you think you’ve managed to do what you’ve done in your career?
NAOMI CAMPBELL: I don’t know. I was always told a long time ago by a mutual friend of ours, Bob [De Niro], to avoid being famous just for being famous. That’s something that has always stuck in my mind. I like to work. It helps if you like what you do. I understand when people complain about their work—they do what they do so they can make a living and take care of their families. So I am grateful to be doing something that I like. I also got to be around the group of beautiful women I came into this business with—Linda [Evangelista], Christy [Turlington], Cindy [Crawford], Tatjana [Patitz], Stephanie [Seymour], Claudia [Schiffer], and Helena [Christensen].

SHAFRAZI: It was an incredible time in fashion when you were coming up in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when the idea of the supermodel was born. There was everything that was going on in terms of design, but I don’t think there has been an occasion before where there were so many big models who were so different from one another and yet also so successful.

CAMPBELL: You know, none of us ever cared about this word supermodel. It was just a kind of terminology that the press came up with for whatever reason. But what we did like was being together. We were very supportive of one another, my group of girls, and I don’t think that happens so much nowadays. We were all doing shows in each country, working nonstop, but it didn’t matter, because we enjoyed being together. We would all have our rooms next to one another—it was like a dorm on tour. Even if we were always in fittings until one or two o’clock in the morning, we didn’t care, because we felt like we were part of something. We used to shoot all night in Paris—couture with Patrick Demarchelier. There’s only one of each couture dress, and they have to go around to every magazine, so we’d be waiting—sometimes for hours—for a dress to arrive. But as long as we had good music, nobody said they were tired. Nobody cared. So I’m happy that I got to be around such a great group of ladies. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard work. But it was also a lot of fun—and I didn’t feel alone. Those ladies still look amazing today. Time has gone by, but they still look amazing.

SHAFRAZI: You’re telling me, boy. [laughs] It’s interesting that you’ve stayed friends with so many of the girls you came up with, including Carla Bruni, who is now the first lady of France. I know that you had dinner a couple of weeks ago with her and her husband, President [Nicolas] Sarkozy. What was that like?

CAMPBELL: I don’t like to discuss private events or matters, because, naturally, I respect people’s privacy, but I’ve always loved Carla. She’s an amazing woman. She has always been a great friend to me—and a great confidante. She’s always had this elegance about her, as far back as I can remember. We travel a lot, so we don’t get a chance to see each other that often, but we do try to stay in touch whenever possible.

SHAFRAZI: What was your impression after seeing them together?

CAMPBELL: I love the way that President Sarkozy speaks about Carla. It’s wonderful to see someone speak about their wife with such love, admiration, and pride.