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industry insi-Der: The Face

i-D editorial assistant Declan Higgins looks back on the day he met Naomi Campbell on TV.

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As a child of the 90s, my recollection of the fashion industry from an early age was Naomi Campbell. I thought of her as this incredible figurehead who must have landed on earth from Planet Model to rule every catwalk, campaign and magazine cover in the world. She was the ultimate mega star, more beautiful than you, taller than you and absolutely intangible; someone you could never actually meet.

Come 2013 and a phone call to the i-D office invites two members of our team to feature as guest judges on Naomi Campbell’s model scout show, The Face. From our team, the judge was former fashion model and stylist to the stars, our then Senior Fashion Editor, Elgar Johnson. And when we nipped out for lunch on the day of the call, he casually asked me if I fancied judging on television with him. I said, "yes".

On the day of filming, we were hurried through to get mic’d up and told we would meet The Face team mentors Naomi Campbell, Erin O’Connor and Caroline Winberg whilst on camera. This seemed mad to me, but apparently would improve the realness. I was petrified. We were told to stand on white masking tape X’s on the floor and once put, the three supermodel catwalk queens came walking over. That moment was possibly the most nervous I have ever been in my life.

Naomi Campbell asked us what the challenge was for the girls. We told them that our inspiration was Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss’s i-D cover from The US Issue, August 1994, shot by Steven Klein in the meatpacking district. Once we told the Supers the task, they went off to brief the models. Without much else to do at that point, Elgar and I went and sat in a production bus and watched about seven episodes of Top Gear while the girls self-styled and got shot by Ellen Von Unwerth in the style of our i-D cover reference.

Once the shooting was over, Elgar and I were taken back through to the panel space where we would choose our favourite image. This was the most nerve-wracking part of the day. I had no idea at all what would appear on the screen. When the first image appeared I was shocked at how well the girls had done styling themselves and how speedily Ellen could turn over a professional fashion image. I asked Elgar to make the final decision, I was finding it too hard!

Once the decision was made, we quickly realised we had picked Caroline Winberg’s team’s image (laid out above), as Naomi was not looking happy! Then we said our goodbye’s and went to Elgar’s house to play FIFA. It was a very surreal day.