Cannes Lions: Naomi Campbell Calls Out Beauty Brands for Lack of Diversity

Naomi Campbell - 2018 CFDA - Getty - H 2018
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The supermodel is also working on a platform for emerging African designers and said the continent should have a Vogue of its own.

Naomi Campbell praised the progress fashion has made in being inclusive, but called out luxury and beauty brands for not keeping up the pace. 

“Aside from Tiger Woods and maybe one other, you never see a person of color in a watch campaign or in the duty free," she said.

She advocated for lucrative contracts for models of color, who are still not paid equally. “Right now fashion shows and ads look much better than it used to, but let’s see beauty campaigns,” she said. And not just a one-off; Campbell wants to see long-term deals for models of color as the “face” of a brand.

One of the original supers, Campbell said she used to be paid less than Linda Evangelista or Christy Turlington, but feels “the choice I made was right for then.”

She also shared an anecdote for the first time ever about the negotiations for her Playboy appearance. She was offered less than Cindy Crawford had been paid, and she was told it was not because she is black, but “because Naomi’s tits are smaller!” she laughed. Campbell’s agents said they would get lawyers and go to the press and the situation was eventually resolved. 

Taking the stage a day after new British Vogue editor Edward Enninful — the two are close, and she’s a contributor to the magazine — she echoed his sentiment that we have to make sure that diversity is not a trend. “Are brands going to stay with this? I’ll give it another six months to decide.” 

The supermodel will be interviewing new Louis Vuitton men’s designer Virgil Abloh for an upcoming issue of British Vogue: “I never thought I’d be in this business and see a man of color get that position,” she said.

Gucci is an example of the way a fashion brand can adapt and incorporate designers of color, citing how after the brand was called out for using Dapper Dan as an, ahem, influence, they decided to work with him and now have an atelier in Harlem.

The city of Lagos is a hotbed of talent in music and fashion, with amazing designs and textiles that could be incorporated into European fashion. “We shouldn’t exclude other countries, they’ve got talent but we are not letting them in,” she said. She advocated for a Vogue Africa to showcase the emerging talent on the continent and said she is working on a platform for young designers, though she didn’t disclose details.

The pace of fashion is too fast, she also lamented. “I don’t know how designers do it,” she said, with ready-to-wear and couture adding cruise collections and other capsules like pre-fall or accessories lines. “The pressure is on designers big time.”