I was a young fashion director and Naomi was already famous well beyond the industry, but we bonded on sight. After the shoot wrapped, she invited me to jump on a private plane to Dublin with her – I was due back in London and had only £10 in my pocket – but that’s just the way it is with Naomi. A quarter of a century later and she hasn’t changed. You never know where you’re going to end up.
There has been so much written about her over the years, but I think many would be surprised to discover how loyal and generous she is. As a friend, she is kind and very sensitive, yet at the same time she is a fighter – Jamaican, a buffalo soldier – who stands up for herself. To me, she will always be a legend, like the last of the silent movie stars: Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Naomi Campbell. With all the flashbulbs, the fashion, the entourages, the jets, the philanthropy, the red carpets and the world leaders on speed dial, she seems to live at twice the pace of the rest of us. All the clichés genuinely do apply to Naomi – you could not make her up and she really is larger than life.
This was the starting point for our cover story – to create an homage to Naomi’s world. Of course, the photographer had to be Steven Meisel. When Naomi works with Meisel, she practically becomes a teenager again, shy and focused, and so it proved during our two-day shoot in New York together at the tail end of last year. They know each other so well that they don’t really need words. Dancers came in, Kendrick Sampson (an actor and activist we both admire) played the role of her lover, and even her driver was pulled in to orbit around her. I hope you enjoy the result. It is the story of a real woman – and a genuine icon.
Naomi caps an issue wholly dedicated to putting the Vogue stamp on the first weeks of spring, whether that’s by celebrating the women who have defined the Brexit debate, or being granted an audience with Tracey Emin as she returns with a new exhibition. The crucial trends are front and centre, of course. Optimistic, fun, colourful and slightly eccentric – there is plenty of escape on offer within these pages, whether it’s a leap of the imagination or taking the season’s best pieces to be photographed on the beaches in LA, or the streets of New York and London. We live in serious times, but I hope that there is still room for a little fun. I believe it’s important that there is.