Known around the world for her legs, flawless chocolate skin and piercing attitude, supermodel Naomi Campbell seems born for American reality television. But instead of throwing punches — or cell phones — as a coach and executive producer for The Face, Oxygen’s new modeling competition premiering on February 6, Campbell will mine her storied career for the next generation of hopeful supermodels. Born and raised in London, Campbell has sketched her imprint on the very face of fashion by becoming the first black model featured on the covers of French Vogue and Time magazine. Parlour sat down with the fashion icon, known for her off-catwalk antics just as much as her strut, for her take on mentorship, her infatuation with Don Cheadle and why she loves being someone else.
Parlour: Why did you choose to do reality TV now?
Naomi Campbell: I’ve been asked to do reality TV since it started, I’ve always said no. I’m a pretty private person and to show my life in front of the camera for no reason is just not for me. But when I heard the word ‘mentorship’ [from the Oxygen network], I finally said yes. To be able to share my 26 years in this business was a really great experience for me.
The Face is about finding the next big model, where are the most naturally beautiful women?
Beautiful women are everywhere, Africa, Brazil, China, India and Italy … The show is an international competition, and we have a great mixture of ethnicities. Viewers get to see the real part of becoming a model. I’m both a coach and an executive producer, I work for that title by calling upon designers, editors and photographers to be a part of the show.
Who are some of your favorite brands?
I love the veterans of this business like Marc Jacobs, Yves Saint Laurent, Vera Wang and Donna Karan. These designers constantly re-invent themselves and they helped me when I was getting started.