No one does fashion like Naomi Campbell. The supermodel, who turns 50 today, can pull off just about anything. Designers have long counted on Campbell to bring their creations to life, her inimitable sashay adding a special touch to countless collections. Her walk is legendary, but Campbell’s influence extends beyond the runway. The British supermodel has cultivated a personal look that is instantly recognizable at each premiere, gala, or get-together she deigns to attend. Sure, pictures exist of Campbell in sneakers or tracksuits, but grand gowns are her bread and butter. The more dramatic, sexy, or daring her wardrobe choices are, the more Campbell seems at ease. Other celebrities are known for their “I woke up like this” commitment to ease, while Campbell’s charm is in her ability to make flash seem like second nature.
Drawn to designers who reflect that sensibility, Campbell has worn her fair share of big names. It’s the creators who’ve touched her personally though, who have earned a special place within her repertoire. A muse and close friend to the late Gianni Versace, she’s expertly worn designs from his house for the better part of three decades. Her relationship with Dior Homme designer, Kim Jones, resulted in a memorable runway appearance at his final Louis Vuitton collection in 2018 and a series of sizzling borrowed-from-the-boys red carpet moments. Likewise, her presence in Alexander McQueen’s early shows resulted in a lifelong friendship and several memorable outfits. Azzedine Alaïa, the legendary Tunisian couturier, also dressed Campbell to great effect. A fatherly presence in her life since her teens, she lovingly referred to the late designer as “Papa.”
Campbell’s crowning fashion achievements are marked by their daring. In the ’90s, she embraced camp in thigh-high platform boots and Clueless-worthy plaid suits during London Fashion Week outings with her best friend, Kate Moss. She ushered in the new millennium with one stellar AlaÏa look after another, the sleekness of his wares pitch-perfect at events such as the 2000 CFDA Awards. Vampy Versace moments, like stepping off the runway at the fabled spring 2018 collection and heading straight to Italian Vogue’s anniversary bash, kept things exciting. And when she emerged from mandatory community service in 2007 wearing a silver Dolce & Gabbana slip dress and matching metal corset, it was the ultimate “never let them see you sweat” style win.
It doesn’t take much for Campbell to look fabulous. Still, she puts in the extra effort. The hair is always perfect, the makeup flawless, and the outfits pristine. At 50, she continues to embrace new designers, fresh ideas, and bold accessories. Campbell has famously stated that she’ll never retire from runway due to her love of the catwalk and that zeal extends into all aspects of fashion. Her respect for fashion as an industry, an art form, and outlet for expression is what makes her style iconic—and it’s why we hope she never hangs up her heels and quits the red carpet.