Where other ‘It’ models have passed down the torch following years of mega-stardom (or at the very least taken a sizable step back), Naomi Campbell has remained a constant. Since landing her first magazine cover on British Elle at the age of 15, the English model has kept a full schedule, landing a mix of magazine covers, fashion campaigns and runway work for every major designer showcasing collections in New York, London, Milan and Paris. Often hailed for breaking barriers (and occasionally criticized for creating controversy), Campbell became the first Black model to appear on the cover of French Vogue in 1988, was dubbed one of the five original supermodels in the ‘90s and, in more recent years, has become the subject of docuseries and museum exhibitions.
Throughout her nearly 40-year career, Campbell has covered more than 500 magazines, walked countless runways and made appearances in music videos, television and film. Even after establishing herself as a household name, Campbell has continued to front fashion campaigns and walk the runway for many of the same designers that she worked with at the start of her career (think Versace, Saint Laurent and Azzedine Alaïa).
But Campbell has also made it a priority to give back, too. Inspired by her friend and mentor Nelson Mandela, Campbell founded Fashion For Relief in 2005, a charitable organization that has used fashion initiatives to raise awareness around and funds in support of causes like Save the Children, aiding the victims of Hurricane Katrina and fighting against Ebola. The model has also lent support to other Black women in the fashion world (as she did in 2023 when she opened the show for fashion designer Torishéju Dumi, the first Black woman to debut a collection as part of Paris Fashion Week).
Runway looks aside, these are some of Campbell’s most memorable fashion moments—from her early days attending the Met Gala on the arm of fashion designer Gianni Versace to receiving awards for her contributions to the fashion industry in custom couture.
1990, Met Gala
Campbell’s Met Ball looks would become increasingly more elaborate over the years, but for her first gala at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the model wore a brightly colored minidress by Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace. Pictured here with photographer Francesco Scavullo, Campbell told Vogue that she had actually been invited to the prestigious event through her roommate and fellow supermodel, Christy Turlington.
1991, California Fashion Industry Friends Of AIDS Project
Several months after Campbell walked the runway for Versace’s pop art-inspired spring 1991 collection, the model participated in a fundraising event hosted by the designer in Los Angeles. For the occasion, she even rewore the dress that debuted as part of the collection in Milan—a brightly colored silk creation that was printed with Andy Warhol-style images of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean.
1991, Maybelline Event
Campbell first wore this sheer bodysuit on the runway during Azzedine Alaïa’s fall 1991 show, but she tried it out again during an event for Maybelline at New York City’s Plaza Hotel. Campbell would become a staple on the Alaïa runway, and the two also forged an unbreakable bond beyond designer and muse. Campbell, who referred to Alaïa as “papa,” considered the legendary fashion designer to be a father figure since her teenage years, crediting him with protecting her from industry predators and providing guidance throughout her career.
1995, Met Gala
In 1995, Campbell once again attended the Met Gala as a guest of Gianni Versace, this time accompanying the designer in a shimmering floor-length gown. “I loved this dress; it was slim-fitting and body-hugging, and it just glistened,” Campbell told Vogue. “I remember when I saw this dress for the first time […] it seemed like one of those dresses that you read [about] in those fairytale books.”
1997, MTV Video Music Awards
Campbell ditched the full-length gowns for the MTV VMAs in 1997, but still brought plenty of sparkle with her metallic pink Versace minidress. Not only was the design a standout look, but it also served as a tribute to designer Gianni Versace, who had been killed just a few months earlier.
1999, The Fifi Awards
In 1999, Campbell ventured into the beauty world by launching her own fragrance (the first of more than 20), and fittingly, it was also the first year that she attended the Fragrance Foundation’s annual awards. Pioneering the ‘naked dress’ trend, the model wore a long-sleeved black gown that was entirely sheer (and backless), which she paired with long curls and the signature brown lip of the ‘90s.
1999, Versace Event
Campbell and fellow ‘It’ girl Kate Moss ruled the London fashion scene in the ‘90s. And when Versace teamed up with luxury jeweler De Beers for a charity gala in 1999 (aptly titled Diamonds Are Forever), it meant pairing metallic Versace designs with diamonds that could rival their sparkle. Campbell’s asymmetrical butterfly dress became an instant hit, one that was nearly identically recreated by Christina Aguilera at the 2000 Grammy Awards, and later made more modern by Dua Lipa at the 2021 Grammys.
2000, CFDA Awards
For the 2000 CFDA Fashion Awards, Campbell turned to Alaïa for this golden gown. The fitted design flared into a short train that trailed behind her, and it also featured cutouts along the sides and an open back with crisscrossing straps. For jewelry, Campbell selected several diamond bracelets and earrings, and she matched her beauty look to her dress with metallic gold eyeshadow.
2003, NAACP Image Awards
Metallics are a favorite of Campbell’s when it comes to red carpet dressing, and at the 2003 NAACP Image Awards, she worked fringe into her silver dress, accessorizing with dainty jewelry that included a silver arm cuff.
2004, Grammy Party
Campbell, who had recently appeared in rapper Jay-Z’s music video for “Change Clothes,” took a brief break from her usual neutral and metallic dresses when she attended a party for the 2004 Grammy Awards in this ab-baring blue number.
2004, Fashion Rocks Event
Campbell’s sleeveless minidress at the Fashion Rocks event showed off even more skin with its sheer chainmail element. But it was just one look from the model, who later took the stage with Usher during the charity fundraiser in a silver and gold-trimmed mini.
2005, in Cannes
Campbell has always loved an over-the-top party, and for her 35th birthday, she threw a gala to raise funds for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (founded by humanitarian and South African president Nelson Mandela, whom Campbell considered a close friend and mentor). As the birthday girl, Campbell opted for a statement-making leopard print minidress, which was trimmed in lace and entirely embellished in crystals. The plunging neckline of the dress perfectly highlighted Campbell’s bejeweled necklace, and the model even added a pop of metallic to her dark smoky eye, with gold liner.
2007, Marc Jacobs Show
Though she’d been walking for Marc Jacobs since his Perry Ellis days in the ‘80s, Campbell took a break from the runway to sit front row at the designer’s fall 2007 collection. Sporting a bob cut with bangs, the model dressed up in a ruffled ombre dress (presumably by Jacobs).
2007, Vanity Fair Oscar Party
The annual Vanity Fair Oscar party called for another fringe moment from Campbell, who wore this swinging gold Alaïa number. Matching her bag and open-toe heels to the black underlay of the dress, the model added a pop of color with a jade-beaded necklace and earrings.
2007, in New York City
Campbell treated her 2007 assault case like a fashion show—from her court appearances to the five days of community service she was sentenced to by a Manhattan Criminal Court judge. On the last day of her court-ordered community service, Campbell, who pleaded guilty to assault, strutted out of the New York City Department of Sanitation in a silver sequined Dolce & Gabbana gown with an oversized belt (as one does).
2007, in Italy
It was time for another Alaïa moment from the model, this time in Italy, when she attended an event in Venice with the Tunisian couturier himself. The softer look was an ivory ruffle and lace design, which featured sheer paneling at the midriff and delicate V-shaped straps. Campbell then added gold heels, a clutch bag, stacks of diamond bracelets and two dainty anklets to complete her glamorous look.
2008, In New York City
For a night at the opera in 2008, Campbell went an entirely different route in a belted black pantsuit. Arriving on the arm of Yves Saint Laurent’s then-creative director Stefano Pilati (the French fashion house sponsored the benefit), the model accessorized with a black clutch, sky-high heels and an elaborate choker necklace.
2010, Cannes Film Festival
Campbell stole the show at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival when she arrived on the red carpet in a glittering gold Roberto Cavalli halter dress.
2010, amfAR Gala
While still in France, Campbell hopped over to Antibes for the amfAR Gala benefiting AIDS research. Wearing a strapless gown from L’Wren Scott’s fall 2010 collection, Campbell’s elegant design was adorned with ostrich feathers and bursts of shimmering silver sequins throughout.
2011, Met Gala
The 2011 Met Gala paid tribute to the late Alexander McQueen, and naturally, Campbell wore a design from the British fashion house. The model previously shared that the gown, which was custom-made for her by McQueen’s then-new creative director Sarah Burton, was made on a sheer corset that was dyed to match her skin tone. The intricate design also featured an attached cape that flowed into the train of the dress, and Campbell accessorized with a matching clutch, diamond earrings and a matching clip for her hair.
2013, Novak Djokovic Foundation Gala
For a gala benefiting the Novak Djokovic Foundation in London, Campbell went for classic black in a tiered Azzedine Alaïa dress and minimal jewelry.
2013, Novak Djokovic Foundation Dinner
A few months later, Campbell attended a second event for the Novak Djokovic Foundation, this time in New York City. Donning another black dress, Campbell was giving a totally different vibe in a bondage-style Versace dress that she’d worn 21 years earlier in the fall 1992 campaign for the Italian fashion house.
2013, Azzedine Alaïa Exhibit
When Alaïa was honored with an exhibit highlighting his work at Paris’ Palais Galliera, Campbell showed her support by arriving in one of the designer’s own creations. The incredibly detailed dress featured a navy bodice with emerald-green beading from top to bottom, and the model’s bob was the perfect way to show off the sculptural neckline.
2014, GLAAD Media Awards
To attend the GLAAD Media Awards in 2014, Campbell chose a chiffon leopard print dress from Gucci that featured leather details at the waist and at the halter neckline.
2014, Met Gala
Diana Ross was the inspiration for the pale pink gown that Riccardo Tisci, who was the creative director for Givenchy at the time, created for Campbell. The bespoke dress was embellished throughout, with a halter neckline, cut-out detailing and stole-like ostrich feather sleeves that Campbell complemented with undone waves, a soft smoky eye and a muted pink lip.
2014, Evening Standard Awards
No one does a metallic dress quite like Campbell, who made a glittering entrance at the 2014 Evening Standard Theatre Awards in London wearing a golden Burberry frock by then-creative director Christopher Bailey. Highlighting the gown’s plunging neckline, Campbell skipped the necklaces, but she did accessorize with several oversized cocktail rings, bracelets in pink and gold and a black fur stole.
2015, amfAR Gala
The 2015 amfAR Gala in New York City marked another departure from Campbell’s beloved metallic and neutral gowns in favor of this royal purple Pucci number. The fitted silhouette featured a thigh-high slit at the front and an asymmetrical neckline with one long sleeve, which Campbell styled with an elaborate diamond choker necklace, matching bracelet and black ankle strap heels. To complete the look, the model wore her hair in a glossy blowout with a purple smoky eye makeup that matched her dress.
2015, Met Gala
For her next Met look, Campbell turned to Burberry’s then-creative director Christopher Bailey, whom she’d first met in the ‘90s when Bailey worked as a senior designer at Gucci. The floor-length gown was embroidered with chartreuse colored sequins, from its plunging neckline down through the skirt. Panels of sheer fabric were strategically placed throughout the dress, and a black ostrich feather train added another textural element to the design. So as not to compete with the detailed gown, Campbell kept the jewelry to a minimum and opted for a classic beauty look with winged liner and a red lip.
2015, Versace Show
Two rare occurrences took place at the fall 2015 Versace show: Campbell appeared in the audience instead of on the runway and she did so in a white suit.
2016, amfAR Gala
For her longtime support of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, Campbell was honored at the New York City gala in 2016 with the Award of Inspiration. For the occasion, Campbell wore a black patterned design from Azzedine Alaïa’s fall 2016 collection. The dress featured sheer paneling along the skirt, and the model added a casual touch to the otherwise formal look with lace-up ankle boots.
2016, MTV Video Music Awards
For an appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards, Campbell chose a sculptural Brandon Maxwell minidress in a soft mint color. While her impossibly high slit certainly turned heads, it was the model’s red glitter lip by makeup artist Pat McGrath that really had everyone talking.
2016, Tom Ford Show
A few weeks later, Campbell swapped sparkling elements when she attended the Tom Ford fall 2016 fashion show with a matte red lip and a sequined gown. The floor-length number was part of the designer’s spring 2016 collection, and it paired dramatic sheer paneling with a swirl of sequins in various shades of red, gold and green.
2017, Vogue Italia Party
After making a surprise appearance on the Versace runway (with fellow ‘90s supers, Carla Bruni, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen and Claudia Schiffer), Campbell attended an event hosted by the Italian edition of Vogue in her spring 2018 collection dress. The model, who was also one of the stars of the Versace campaign, wore a floor-length gold chainmail gown that featured a one-shoulder silhouette and a thigh-high slit at the front.
2017, WSJ Magazine Innovator Awards
The Wall Street Journal Magazine’s 2017 Innovator Awards marked a truly bold red carpet moment for Campbell, who sported an asymmetrical design by Jean Paul Gaultier. The one-sleeved silhouette merged from dress to (one-legged) suit, and the model added to the avant-garde look with a nose ring that attached to her earring.
2018, Cannes Film Festival
For another Cannes red carpet where Campbell stole the show, the model wore a custom take on a Poiret gown from the fall 2018 collection to attend the premiere of BlacKkKlansman. The draped dress featured a web of sparkling sheer fabric on the left side of the bodice, and Campbell added another bold element with a massive gold bow at the back right shoulder. To better show off the dress (and her oversized diamond and emerald earrings), the model kept her beauty look classic with a slicked-back low ponytail and a smoky eye and cat eyeliner combo.
2018, CFDA Fashion Awards
After more than 30 years of influencing the style scene both on and off the runway, Campbell was honored with the Fashion Icon Award at the 2018 CFDA Awards ceremony. To collect her award, the model selected a scarlet red Calvin Klein number from the spring 2018 show, which was covered in fringe that swished about as she made her way to the stage (and posed on the red carpet). Campbell completed the look with matching red heels, stacks of diamond bracelets, an oversized black choker necklace (and several smaller gold chains) and sleek hair parted down the middle.
2019, Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Campbell switched up her look for Vanity Fair’s annual Oscars party, with a short, curly hairstyle that showed off every detail of her Alexander McQueen pre-fall 2016 design. The floor-length silhouette was made from Sakae lace that featured beaded embroidery, including three-dimensional butterflies in shades of crimson and chartreuse.
2019, Met Gala
Campbell’s custom pale pink Valentino dress at the 2019 Met Gala was actually a bodysuit that Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli put together in less than 48 hours. Sheer chiffon draped over the top of the lace bodysuit created a dress-like effect, and the look was completed with a matching feathered cape that dramatically trailed behind Campbell as she made her way up the pink-carpeted steps of the museum.
2019, Fashion For Relief
Back in 2005, Campbell founded Fashion For Relief, holding star-studded fashion shows to raise funds for charitable organizations around the globe (it’s worth noting; however, that Campbell’s organization would find itself under investigation in 2021 for alleged mismanagement of funds). Her 2019 show at the British Museum was one of Campbell’s biggest events yet, and before donning couture pieces down the runway, she posed on the red carpet in this sheer number. A vintage design from Thierry Mugler’s fall 1998 couture collection, the long-sleeved dress featured some very strategic beaded paneling, which Campbell played up by adding rows of diamond necklaces and bracelets.
2019, Valentino Show
As the face of Valentino’s pre-fall 2019 campaign, Campbell sat front row at the show for the Italian fashion house’s spring 2020 collection (next to Valentino co-founder Giancarlo Giammetti, no less). Wearing a two-piece set that could rival the glamour of any evening dress, Campbell was pictured in a long-sleeved, turtleneck tunic and matching cream trousers that were both embellished with tiny bursts of sequins in silver and pastel shades of pink, yellow and blue. Part of Valentino’s resort 2020 collection, the tunic was also trimmed in ostrich feathers, and Campbell accessorized with nude leather ankle boots, a pink Valentino Rockstud Spike Bag and oversized sunglasses.
2019, LACMA Art + Film Gala
Campbell was back to bold colors at the LACMA Art + Film gala, where she wore a fiery red dress by Versace that was entirely crafted of Swarovski crystal mesh.
2019, The Fashion Awards
A year after being honored by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Campbell took home another Fashion Icon award—this time from the British Fashion Council. In her speech, Campbell noted that she was the first Black woman to receive the accolade, and for the historic occasion, she turned to Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton. The bespoke silk tulle dress featured embellished 3D petals, and the model added even more sparkle with diamond jewelry and a metallic smoky eye.
2022, The Fashion Awards
During the pandemic, Campbell made headlines for the hazmat suits she donned while traveling, but by 2022, she was back to custom couture. For the Fashion Awards, the model wore a silver sequined Valentino gown, which flowed into a full cape and revealed just a hint of skin with one-sided cutout detailing along the neckline.
2023, Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Campbell wore one of her most elaborate looks yet when she attended the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar party in Schiaparelli. Part of the spring 2023 couture collection, the illusion strap dress featured a skirt that was fully embroidered with chiclet-shaped, molded leather metal sequins. Then there was the barely-there bodice, which consisted of two sculpted cups that were decorated with gold and glass piercings.
2023, Met Gala
Some of Campbell’s earliest runway moments were for Chanel, so when the Met Gala paid tribute to Karl Lagerfeld in 2023, the model also paid homage to the fashion house’s late creative director with her ensemble. Wearing a vintage look from Chanel’s spring 2010 couture collection, Campbell selected a draped satin gown in pale pink that featured a swirl of silver sequins on the right side of the bodice, which trailed down through the skirt as well. Accessories and makeup perfectly complemented the look with silver heels, diamond cuff bracelets and a shimmering pink smoky eye.
2023, Cannes Film Festival
Campbell’s red Valentino dress at the Killers of the Flower Moon premiere was just one in a series of stunning looks from the model at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. Matching the red carpet with her cutout gown, Campbell added more drama to the dress by pairing it with a sheer, feather-embroidered cape.
2023, Cannes Film Festival
Next up, Campbell walked the Cannes red carpet in Chanel couture from the spring 2022 collection. The white dress included a pop of red embroidery at the halter neckline (and more noticeably at the back of the bodice), and the relaxed silhouette featured slouchy pockets at the front and an oversized bow at the back.
2023, Chopard Event
Campbell took a break from the film premieres and red carpets of Cannes to attend a dinner hosted by luxury jeweler, Chopard. Mixing masculine and feminine elements, the model wore a double-breasted Alexander McQueen suit in black, whose draped lapel and skin-baring neckline better showed off her massive 70-carat pear-shaped diamond necklace.
2023, in Italy
While attending a photography exhibition in Milan, Campbell showcased her signature red carpet style in a Dolce & Gabbana gown from the fall 2023 collection, which was fully embellished with ruby red crystals. Still wearing her preferred sleek, straight and center-parted hairstyle, Campbell tried out a lighter, caramel color for the event.
2023, BoF Gala
Before the end of fashion month, Campbell switched things up, arriving at the Business of Fashion 500 gala in a colorful Emilio Pucci print from the fall 2023 collection.