A MUS­ING

Get­ting to know the real Naomi Camp­bell

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Bazaar - Ken­neth Goh

It’s not ev­ery day you get a text from a supermodel to say she loves you.

Igot this text just a week ago. It read, “Ken my love, it was such a plea­sure, I loved our con­nec­tion. You un­der­stand me with­out words. Can’t wait till our paths cross again. Big love and hugs – xoxo Naomi.” If could frame this, I would. It’s not ev­ery day you get a text from a supermodel to say she loves you. And even more from a leg­end like Naomi Camp­bell. Her in­fa­mous rep­u­ta­tion pre­cedes her – so to re­ceive some­thing so warm and fuzzy was cer­tainly a sur­prise. Iron­i­cally, the feel­ing wasn’t mu­tual ear­lier on in the day. We waited for hours for Naomi to turn up at our shoot. At the six­hour point, I was about to call the whole shoot off when I was called into her chang­ing room. Naomi needed the dex­ter­ous fin­gers of a stylist to wig­gle the zip­per of her Alaïa dress up her Ama­zo­nian body.

I did it in one fell swoop, and promptly earned her re­spect. “I will be back to do your shoot right af­ter this quick in­ter­view?” she sweetly promised.

And turn up, she did, right af­ter her in­ter­views – nine hours later than the call time. “How many pic­tures do you need?” she asked. “Six plus cov­ers which is eight,” I ven­tured. “I can do four now and then I have to do the show and then I can come back and do the rest of the shoot. Ok?” she asked and I promptly nod­ded. Be­fore I could snap my fin­gers, she was down to her birth­day suit wait­ing to be dressed. I was elated. The nine-hour wait just melted away into obliv­ion. Naomi was so charm­ing, so ef­fu­sive and so en­gag­ing, you just for­gave her for ev­ery­thing. I had 30 min­utes to get the cover shot and do four out­fit changes be­fore she had to walk for Zenchi at Dig­i­tal Fash­ion Week.

“Please come with me to the show?” she pleaded. “Of course!” I said. And the next thing I knew, I was sit­ting next to her in a blacked-out Mercedes. All this while, in the mad­ness of chang­ing out­fits and pos­ing, Naomi talked fash­ion. Real fash­ion. She asked what my favourite show in Paris was. She wanted my opin­ion on Ni­co­las Gh­esquière’s ap­point­ment at Louis Vuit­ton; and what David Koma was do­ing in Lon­don, adding how his amaz­ing cut and fit suited her to a T. She talked about the exit of Jil Sander from her epony­mous brand and how she al­ways cut such beau­ti­ful clothes but at such hefty price tags. She lamented about the sale of Loro Piana to LVMH and if the brand would still have that in­ti­mate un­der­stand­ing of lux­ury (she out­fit­ted all her ex-boyfriend’s yachts in Loro Piana and gave en­tire retrofitting in­struc­tions in 30 min­utes flat). She spoke about how she loved Jonathan Saun­ders’ first col­lec­tion so much, and won­dered how JW An­der­son would do at Loewe.

Naomi knows her fash­ion – in­side out. She knows what brands, de­sign­ers and la­bels are do­ing. She knows the busi­ness of fash­ion. She un­der­stands how fash­ion ex­hi­bi­tions should be done – how her “papa’s” ex­hi­bi­tion (Azze­dine Alaïa) in Paris should have been more in­ter­ac­tive. “Cos that’s what kids want nowa­days. They want to be in­volved. They want to be en­ter­tained.” She flew in from New York to open the ex­hi­bi­tion for “papa” and stayed for less than 12 hours be­fore fly­ing back. Such is her de­vo­tion and loy­alty.

When we rolled up to the venue, she prac­ti­cally threw off her clothes, got into Zenchi’s lit­tle black dress and opened the show in un­der 10 min­utes – from the mo­ment she walked in. She was two hours late. But none­the­less, she knew ev­ery an­gle, ev­ery move, and ev­ery light. She knew where to stop, which cam­era to look at, when to make that three-point turn as she did the fi­nal look down the run­way in a bright yel­low dress that shone like a bea­con against her tanned skin. And, be­fore you knew it, she had changed back and we were back at Raf­fles Ho­tel for the fi­nal three shots.

All the while, Naomi chat­ted non­stop, she filled the room with laugh­ter, with de­mands, with cu­ri­ous ques­tions. She even stopped to make a 20-sec­ond call to her loved one to ask for “three lit­tle words,” to which she re­sponded with a “me too” and promptly switched off her phone. And within 10 min­utes, she did the promised three looks and was off to the air­port with min­utes to spare. Naomi can out-pose any­one in 10 sec­onds flat – and can even make planes wait for her. Be­fore leav­ing, she turned to me, gave me the big­gest hug and kiss and promised to send me a text.

Did this whole shoot even hap­pen? I turn to my phone and see her SMS. It did, and it left a mark for­ever. Send me your com­ments on Twit­ter: go­h_ken­neth or In­sta­gram: @ken­nieboy

Naomi Camp­bell in Zenchi at Dig­i­tal Fash­ion Week

In Saint Lau­rent at the BAZAAR fash­ion shoot

Do­ing a three­p­oint turn at the fi­nale walk for Zenchi at Dig­i­tal Fash­ion Week

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