hair story: naomi campbell

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– Written by Un-ruly Contributor, Ieshia McDonald

Naomi Campbell has long established herself as an international beauty icon. With a career spanning roughly 30 years, she’s epitomized everything we think a super model should be: striking looks, a signature walk, a long line of rich and famous boyfriends, fierce clothes and an allegedly fierce reputation. When it comes to her hair, long bone-straight extensions has been her staple with a few notable hair moments. Here’s Naomi Campbell’s hair story.

starting off with a bang

Naomi Campbell was born on May 22, 1970 in Streathom, South London. Her mother was a dancer and her father, she never met. She appeared in the music video for Bob Marley’s hit record, “Is This Love” at the age of seven.

At the age of 15, Naomi was discovered by Beth Boldt of Synchro agency while window-shopping. She would appear on the cover of British Elle before her sixteenth birthday. At this time, her hair appeared to be either chemically straightened or pressed. Her hairstyles usually pulled back her tresses to show off her marvelous bone structure. Although she was occasionally scene with a fun fringe, like in the 1987 issue of British Elle where a young Naomi sports a messy banged bob.

She quickly became known in the industry, walking for top designers such as, Gianni Versace and shooting with world-renown photographers such as, Peter Lindbergh. She would soon be known as a member of the super model “Trinity,” which included herself, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista. The three were the most highly requested and identifiable supermodels of the ‘80s and ‘90s.

straight covers

At the height of her success, her style became even more glamorous, sporting designer clothes, dramatic makeup and bone-straight hair weaves.

During this time in her career she reached many milestones. She appeared on the cover of British Vogue in December of 1987, the first black model to grace the cover in 20 years. In August of 1988, she became the first black model to ever be on the cover of French Vogue, after her designer-mentor Yves St. Laurent promised to withdraw all of his advertisements from the magazine if it did not place a black model on its cover. And the next year she appeared on the cover of American Vogue as the first black woman to appear on its September issue, its most popular issue annually. (Read more: Hair Story: Black Vogue Covers)

In January of 1990, she appeared on the cover of British Vogue with her fellow supermodels Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford and Tatjana Patitz. At the time, Naomi still sported her bone-straight black weave, but played with length and dimension a lot more with an asymmetrical bob with blunt bangs.

revealing lines

With an uncountable amount of photo shoots and promenades down the runway under her belt, each demanding she assume a different role, look and hair style, Naomi’s glamorous job took a toll on her iconic image. In around 2010 pictures surfaced of the British stunner at a photo shoot in New York City, with hair signature long straight extensions pulled aside, revealing a thinning hair line. Hair professionals speculated the hair loss was a result of traction alopecia, hair loss caused by ‘pulling’ the hair, often caused by the stress of hair weaves on hair. (Learn more about traction alopecia). Over the years, more photos of Naomi’s hair line have emerged and made ‘news’ but the supermodel has never appeared phased by this development. In 2012 hiding her hairline seemed the least of her concerns as she holidayed in Ibiza with her then billionaire boyfriend Vladislav Doronin.

hairy headlines

By 1998, Naomi had pretty much retired from runway modeling, but continued print modeling. Over the next few years she would become notorious for the many conflicts she would have with her staff, but that didn’t deter her from continuing a successful career. In November of 1999, she appeared on the cover of Vogue with 12 other models in their “Millennial” issue as a “modern muse.”

In more recent years her work (and play) has taken her hair to places that it had rarely been before. In 2011 she was one of Seb Janiak’s consumer packaged bald beauties.

Campbell appeared as a blonde bombshell on the 2013 May cover of Vogue Brazil.

And for a brief stint in 2014 she was spotted sporting a gorgeously global ‘fro, although it wasn’t the first time Naomi abandoned her usually straight tresses for a curlier texture.

not so bad girl

Although Campbell’s reputation may precede her often for bad reasons, the super model has done plenty of good. Alongside an abundant amount of charity work, throughout her career Naomi has been very vocal about racial-bias in the fashion industry. Although, she has been able to overcome some of the milestones for Black women within the industry, her salary and demand still does not compare with that of white supermodels. She notably stated in a Glamour interview in 2007: “The American president may be black, but as a black woman, I am still an exception in this business. I always have to work harder to be treated equally.” A member of the Diversity Coalition, she recently stood with fashion icons Bethann Hardison and Iman, speaking out against the lack of diversity on the runways.

With her face still gracing the covers of magazines world wide and with appearances on a hit TV series (she plays Camilla on Fox’s Empire), it seems like the world still has a lot more Naomi to admire as she effortlessly eases her way into legendary beauty status.

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