As the new mother turns 51, Rupert Hawksley explores Campbell’s lifelong conflict between publicity and privacy through the highs and lows of her remarkable career
n March last year, Naomi Campbell boarded a flight from Los Angeles International Airport wearing a white hazmat suit, goggles, blue face mask and pink latex gloves. Draped over her shoulders was a $3,000 Burberry cashmere cape. The images, posted on the British supermodel’s official Instagram page, were “liked” by more than half a million people, while the “look” is now on display at the Fashion Museum in Bath.
It is a neat metaphor for Campbell’s life – she wants to protect herself, to keep the world at bay, but she is also one of the most recognisable faces on the planet. As U2 frontman Bono, a close friend of Campbell’s, once said, she has a body “handmade by God”. Or to put it another way, Naomi Campbell in a hazmat suit is still Naomi Campbell.
There is no vaccination against her level of fame; all she can do is try to control it. This, 也许, is why she enjoys the anonymity of flying so much. “I love being everywhere and nowhere at the same time,” she said in 2019.