BY MAHA KHAN
A supermodel is dedicating an award for her 30 years at the top to her South London roots. Naomi Campbell has been presented with the British Fashion Council’s 2019 fashion icon award.
She said: “This is a very emotional award to receive, although I spend so much of my life in different parts of the world, people forget that I’m from Brixton, I’m a South London girl.”
The council’s chief executive, Caroline Rush, said: “We cannot think of a more deserving recipient than iconic Londoner Naomi Campbell.
“She has achieved exceptional work in the industry. Naomi represents female empowerment, activism and glamour, and her voice is used for great impact.”
Naomi was born in 1970 to parents of Jamaican and Chinese origin, and raised in Streatham – where she has regularly insisted on shooting documentaries and hosting charity fashion shows.
The supermodel returned to her native borough for a documentary about her life, speaking about her early years in South London for CNBC’s Meets series.
The film took her back to her childhood home for the first time in 20 years and she explained how living there has impacted her as an adult.
She said: “I was very happy to go to Streatham, back to the house I grew up in, I have some great memories of my childhood and growing up, so it was great to go back to the house.”
She also talked about her school years, the bullying she faced, and her connection to South London. She discussed how she was scouted, her decades-long modelling career, and her path to fame and a multi-million- pound fortune.
She said: “I feel connected to South London, absolutely. These are my roots. Whatever my accent sounds like, this is where I am from and this is where I am proud to be from.” The 49-year-old star also spoke openly about her addiction to cocaine.
Naomi has blamed her behaviour on abandonment issues she suffered as a child.
The South Londoner never met her biological father and was raised by her mother who was often away working as a dancer.
Ms Campbell was frequently left in the care of her maternal grandmother while growing up in Streatham.
She surprised residents by strolling around Brixton Village market with designer Azzedine Alaïa for a Vogue project filmed by Bruce Weber. They wandered down Market Row, Coldharbour Lane, and checked out legendary record shop Blacker Dreads.
She ended the casual day out with a high fashion photoshoot at Photofusion Studio in Electric Lane.
Ms Campbell was discovered at the age of 15 while shopping and catapulted to fame soon after.
She made history as the first black woman to be featured in French Vogue in 1988.
The decision behind the cover photo was controversial. Her friend and mentor, French designer Yves Saint Laurent, threatened to withdraw his advertising from the magazine if it continued refusing to feature black models on its cover.
Soon after, she appeared on the cover of British Elle, sealing her fate as a true star at the age of 16.
She found her place in fashion history among the ‘Big Six’ supermodels alongside Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Kate Moss The fashion icon award is one of the special recognition awards that celebrate outstanding contributions to the fashion industry.
The awards ceremony is the British fashion council’s main fundraising event for charities and the talent support work. More than a decade ago, the South London model founded a charity for the child refugee crisis and victims of worldwide disasters.
The fundraising catwalk show features high-profile friends of Naomi, prominent models, and designers.
Fashion for Relief has raised millions for causes such as hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti.
This year, it will also return to its roots during London fashion week in September.
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