As Naomi, a Taschen-published tome spanning Naomi Campbell’s decades-long career in fashion, is released, a look at some of the late Peter Lindbergh’s most enduring photographs of the iconic model
“I never planned on being a model. It wasn’t something I even thought about,” says Naomi Campbell in new book Naomi, one of German publishing house Taschen’s ‘XL’ editions which explores her extraordinary career in the fashion industry. Comprising two books – the larger filled with editorial and campaign imagery from throughout Campbell’s career, the smaller a companion book filled with reference information and an interview recalling her life and work with Ajesh Patalay – Naomi forms a comprehensive look at one of fashion’s most enduring figures.
Naomi traces Campbell’s four decades in fashion: from growing up in South London, being scouted as a teenager and going on to travel the world with globally renowned fashion photographers, to her philanthropy and anti-racism campaigning. A large part of Campbell’s storytelling in Naomi is via anecdotes from working with some of fashion’s most renowned designers, photographers, stylists, editors and publications. As the book weaves through the years, it’s Campbell’s words in the smaller tome that illuminate the relationships she’s forged in her industry, often leading to photographs or moments that would go down as iconic.
One such photographer – and orchestrator of many such moments – is the late Peter Lindbergh. “In my first year of modelling, I got to work with a lot of great photographers,” Campbell says in Naomi. “Peter Lindbergh was one of the first. I was 16 when he shot me for a story in New York Woman magazine.” Lindbergh, who died at the age of 74 in 2019, worked with Campbell and her contemporaries – the likes of Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista – on cinematic fashion photography, often in his signature black and white. “I love to take pictures of women with personality, character and style. This is for me the real beauty. Naomi is one,” Lindbergh said.
As well as a 1988 shoot in Deauville in which Campbell was captured by Lindbergh in the spirit of Josephine Baker, the model recalls early shoots with the image-maker and the collaborative spirit they shared. “I always loved how you could talk to Peter about something that inspired you; just suggest an idea, and if he felt it too, he’d get behind you,” she says. “In 1992, we did a shoot for American Harper’s Bazaar based on Gauguin’s Tahiti paintings. I happened to mention my interest in Gauguin as a starting point for a story. Peter went for the idea and we shot the story with the editor Tonne Goodman in Port Antonio, Jamaica. I remember at the end of each day’s shoot we headed to the house of a lady in town to eat ‘mama’ cooking. The story’s now one of my favourites.”
Seen in the context of her now-vast career – much like the scope of Lindbergh’s own – Campbell’s early shoots with the late photographer would produce some defining moments. The pair continued to work together, and photographs from as recent as 2018 are published in Naomi. “Working with Peter was wonderful because he always got so excited,” Campbell recalls. “His enthusiasm was childlike, it almost burst out of him. That made for a lively set.”
Naomi is out now, published by Taschen.