Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell bare all and discuss racism in fashion for the December issues of German and Russian Interview. Campbell appears topless for the cover (NSFW), which features the best friend-supermodels in a touching, languid embrace.
Shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, a glamorous fashion spread accompanies an intimate interview conducted between the stylish besties. Among other topics, they discuss the struggles Campbell faced as one of the first prominent black models in the world. In an excerpt from the cover story regarding racism in fashion, the models relate:
KATE: Did it feel like a battle you were fighting? And are you still fighting for equality in fashion?
NAOMI: It felt… I can’t say that the word battle is the right word but it definitely felt like it was an uphill struggle for something. I felt like I had to do what I had to do for my race and to keep awareness out there.
Naomi Campbell has been a controversial figure for her highly-publicized alleged acts of battery, but many forget the highly active approach she has taken to addressing racial disparities in fashion and media over the course of her career.
Last year the model decried an ad from the candy maker Cadbury that advertised a chocolate bar with the slogan, “Move over Naomi, there’s a new diva in town.”
“It’s upsetting to be described as chocolate, not just for me but for all black women and black people,” Campbell said of the campaign. “I do not find any humour in this. It is insulting and hurtful.”
Her vocal insistence that comparing her to a bar of chocolate was a stereotypical association that dehumanized blacks led Cadbury to apologize for the ad. It also fostered meaningful discussions of racism in advertising and how the lack of diversity in corporate environments may contribute to the regular recurrence of ads deemed offensive to minorities.
The famous catwalker has also spoken out frequently about the lack of opportunities for models of color, and the need for fashion to be more inclusive. In 2009, Campbell spoke out against what she saw as “the developed world’s discrimination against black models,” while participating in her fashion charity event, Fashion for Relief, in Africa.
Speaking of the lack of black models fronting advertising campaigns, Campbell declared: “There’s definitely space for more black models but has there been enough effort? It was getting better but it’s slipped back this year.”
That same year, she used her time at the podium while receiving an award during the annual Thurgood Marshall College Fund “Front Row” fund-raiser to re-interate her activist message.
“There is a small group of people whose minds we have to change because we are living in a multicultural society,” she said. “Nelson Mandela always told me to speak my mind and the consequences will take care of themselves.”
Although Naomi has been speaking out against the unequal hiring of models of color for many years, not much has changed. For instance, the close of the Spring 2013 New York Fashion Week presentation saw yet another season in which black models were underrepresented.
Campbell, for all her “diva” behavior and extraordinary success, still remembers to think of issues beyond her own well-being, as this quote from the German and Russian editions of Interview shows. Her awareness that she needs to use her platform to promote beauty equality for all women is a refreshing complement to the tabloid fare most people associate with her name.
But, if you are hungry for the divalicious Naomi as well, fear not. She will soon be bringing reality TV drama to the small screen on her new show, The Face. Set to debut on the Oxygen network, she also executive produces the show, which will challenge 24 aspiring models seeking career success.
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb.