Naomi Campbell: "I’m proud to be part of a shoot with young creatives that are all my skin colour"

The iconic supermodel and activist tells i-D about being photographed at her home in Kenya by Luis Alberto Rodriguez, and her hopes for 2021.

by Naomi Campbell; as told to Mahoro Seward
24 February 2021, 1:00pm

This story originally appeared in i-D's Utopia in Dystopia Issue, no. 362, Spring 2021. Order your copy here.

“When I’m in Kenya there are days that are less hectic than others, but I’m always busy. I’m being more careful at the moment because of the situation with COVID, but I still saw the kids in the orphanage that I support, I didn’t want to let them down. I want to reach as many people as I can. I want to spread awareness. There’s a part of me where, if I love something, I want the world to know about it.

“We were working, too — we were even shooting on Boxing Day! We shot during the day, we shot at night, but the atmosphere on set with Carlos and Luis and Jawara was so fun, so easy – there was always a boombox somewhere close by playing music – that it just felt like we were taking pictures on vacation. I think that’s something you can see: in how at ease the I am; in the style of Luis’ photography; in the way Carlos has styled me; and in the fun Jawara had with the hair. We got to be a bit flamboyant, and it didn’t really feel like work, to be honest – it just felt like dressing up!

Naomi Campbell in a headdress and briefs
Naomi wears briefs Same Swim. Headpiece Nasir Mazhar for Maximilian.

“It was just very real, very organic. And I felt proud, humbled and happy to be part of a shoot with young creatives that are all my skin colour, and that I’m getting to work with them after so many years of being in fashion industry. It’s very rare that this has happened to me. Luis is the third photographer of colour I’ve worked with in my whole career in fashion.

“When you see these images, I hope you see that Kenya is beautiful, that Africa is beautiful. I think people now are going to really open their minds and start to understand that real beauty is in Africa. There are so many gems, so many hidden secrets. I’ve been coming here since 1994 and I’m still discovering things.

“At the end of 2020, my main reflections were on the need for us to move upward and forward. We have to rise to every challenge and walk through it. And we will get through it. 2021 is going to be a great year, we’ve just got a few more bumps to get through first. Nothing disappears overnight, but we just need to get through this first quarter. After that, I believe that this is going to be an amazing year.

“Actually, I don’t just believe it will be; I feel it will be.”

iD (3)_R1_QC.jpg
Dress Area. Skirt Loewe. Rings (worn throughout) model’s own.
iD (4)_R1_QC.jpg
Skirt FEBEN.
iD (15)_R1_QC.jpg
Skirt Marni.
iD (5)_R1_QC.jpg
All clothing Jacquemus. Earrings JW Anderson.
iD (18)_R2_QC.jpg
Dress Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood. Sandals (worn throughout) Issey Miyake.
iD (9)_R1_QC.jpg
All clothing Maison Margiela Artisanal designed by John Galliano.
iD (17)_R2_QC.jpg
Dress Lanvin.
iD (16)_R1_QC.jpg
All clothing Matty Bovan.
iD (7)_R4_QC.jpg
Dress Melitta Baumeister.
iD (14)_R3_QC.jpg
Dress Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.
iD (8)_R2_QC.jpg
Cape Dior Haute Couture. Briefs Dior.
iD (2)_R1_QC.jpg
Dress Alexander McQueen.
iD (13)_R2_QC.jpg
Leotard Christopher John Rogers.
iD (10)_R2_QC.jpg
Dress Balenciaga.
Swimsuit Vaquera.


Photography Luis Alberto Rodriguez
Fashion director Carlos Nazario

Hair Jawara at Art Partner using Dyson.
Make-up by Bimpe Onakoya and Naomi Campbell.
Styling assistance Raymond Gee, Christine Nicholson, Cari Pacheco and Jennifer De La Cruz.
Hair assistance Matt Benns.
Casting director Samuel Ellis Scheinman for DMCASTING.
Post production Michael Moser.
Model Naomi Campbell at Models1.