Naomi Campbell’s Classic ’90s Style Is Just What 2020 Needs Right Now – And Here’s Why

She will always put the 'super' in supermodel.

Naomi Campbell

Here is your by no means comprehensive list of things that have so far been cancelled in 2020: the Olympics, festivals, fashion shows, Wimbledon, weddings, holidays, impulsive first date snogging. Also seemingly put into cold storage? Glamour.

As we hunkered down into elasticated waists and stretchy fabrics, clothes that delivered big on va-va-voom – date night dresses, high heels, twinkly clutch bags – were swiftly put on furlough. After all, who needs fashion for making an entrance when the only place you’re actually entering is the supermarket? But clothes can have the power to lift the spirits and put swagger in your step, meaning it’s time to vigorously embrace glamour again.

Naomi Campbell in 1990
Naomi Campbell in 1990 ©Getty

If you’re looking for inspiration, we’d advise you to go straight to the top. Nobody has ever channeled glamour as confidently, spectacularly and unapologetically as Naomi Campbell, whose ’90s style is the latest subject of our Fashback series. She’s not called a ‘fashion icon’ for nothing (it's even been made official; she was the recipient of a special Icon Award at the 2019 Fashion Awards).

One of the original supermodels – along with the likes of Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista, who famously wouldn’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 – Streatham-born Campbell and the rest of the glossy posse rose to fame in the ’80s and ’90s garnering mega-bucks contracts and column inches in equal measure. They defined the look of the era in iconic shoots by Peter Lindbergh and Herb Ritts, in George Michael’s Freedom! ’90 video, and arm-in-arm on the runway with Gianni Versace.

Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss in 1999
Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss in 1999 ©Getty

Although today’s models might favour an apparently zero-effort look that revolves around jeans, boots and baggy layers, Naomi is a woman born for the red carpet. It’s impossible to look at her ’90s gowns and thigh-grazing mini dresses with their blingy embellishment, jewel tones and bold prints and not smile. She is so at-ease in glamour that she wore a feather boa – an item that would make most of us look, frankly, ridiculous – to the 1991 Grammy Awards. We are not worthy.

Naomi Campbell at the 1991 Grammy Awards
Naomi Campbell at the 1991 Grammy Awards ©Getty

Naomi’s is a look which still feels impactful now (and indeed today, aged 50 and having been in the public eye for four decades, she still has the mega-watt star power to outshine anyone else on the red carpet). Just ask Kim Kardashian, whose fondness for luxe vintage, has led her to wear pieces by Versace, Alaïa and Thierry Mugler originally worn by Naomi the first time around. Imitation might be the highest form of flattery – but you don’t really get the impression Naomi needs any of that.

You might not yet have any occasions to go the full Naomi in your style - although you would undoubtedly cause a stir in the frozen food aisle - but a sprinkle of embellishment, a tighter or shorter silhouette than you might normally dare, or a pair of 'just because' heels will all tap into the spirit.

Naomi Campbell with Gianni Versace in 1995
Naomi Campbell with Gianni Versace in 1995 ©Getty

Indeed, although diamonds don't hurt, spirit is what authentic glamour is all about. It’s Naomi’s confidence which has always given her looks that hard-to-define, impossible-to-miss X-factor (when asked why she had never appeared in a Victoria’s Secret show, she quipped ‘they couldn’t afford me’). Does that make her a diva? Absolutely - but, and this is an important distinction, it doesn't necessarily make her 'difficult'. True glamour requires true self-assurance to pull off. Naomi has never been afraid to be seen and heard. You can hear it in her words (she has been vocal about racism in the fashion industry) and see it in her clothes, which let you know loud and clear: this is who I am, take it or leave it. And that’s why, then and now, she will always put the ‘super’ in supermodel.


Naomi Campbell 90's Style

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Alessandra Rich, Chain belt, £370

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Zara, Silk camisole top, £49.99

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David Koma, One-shoulder cotton jersey bodysuit, £351

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ASOS Design, oval hoop earrings in crystal drench, £8

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Jacquemus, Adour Draped Crepe Midi Dress, £546

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Zara, Draped dress, £49.99

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Mango, Satin Top, £19.99

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Cult Gaia, Serita Dress - Amber, £365

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Versace, Embellished printed bikini top, £198

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Revolve, Aya Curb Chain Bracelet, £40

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Kurt Geiger, Carvela Glowing, £129

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Topshop, Lime Green Racer Sequin Mini Dress, £26

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Gilda & Pearl, Diana sheer slip dress, £300

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Orseund Iris, Romantique ruched satin skirt, £435

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Cult Gaia, Farah Embellished Fringed Satin Clutch, £436

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House of CB, Pink oversized linen blazer, £89

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Harmur, Crystal and paillette-embellished tulle mini dress, £335

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Versace, Grecamania gold-tone earrings, £240

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Dion Lee, Cutout gathered jersey maxi dress, £965

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