There are supermodels, and then there are supermodels. Naomi Campbell is one of the originals, a Made-in-the-UK Amazon with the best runway walk in the biz and a tongue as sharp as her scalpel-cut cheekbones. She’s a legend. And this multitalented Valentino muse recently added yet another bow to her quiver: Empire, the hottest new show on American TV, featured Campbell in a cameo appearance in which she played a drop-dead sexy fashion designer. The diva attitude the role required came au naturel for Campbell; meanwhile, her years in the fashion trenches gave her preparation for the part that no other actress could touch. Fans of the show are clamoring to have her back next season.
While they’re waiting, Campbell’s fans can content themselves with the ample Naomi-ness in the Valentino archives. She began working with the house relatively early in her career, and her trademark swagger is on full display in the Valentino Haute Couture Fall/Winter 1995/1996 campaign shot by Walter Chin. Hips canted to emphasize her curves, a cigarette dangling from her mouth, a little black dress that’s to-die-for. She’s even giving that signature Naomi Campbell side eye. A more jubilant Naomi can be seen in the behind-the-scenes shots at the show from the same season: This was the epic supermodel mafia extravaganza that Valentino put on at Paris’ Grand Hotel, and Ellen von Unwerth got a snap of Campbell and fellow catwalker Karen Mulder cracking each other up backstage. Want sultry Naomi? Look no further than the Valentino Spring/Summer 2004 campaign shot by Mario Testino, which sees Campbell giving a master class in smoky-lidded bedroom eyes. And if you want to see Naomi Campbell, true friend of Valentino, check out her and Mr. Valentino beaming together in a portrait taken in 1993. In the years hence, she’d accompany Mr. Valentino down the runway for his bow numerous times, and among other occasions, she turned up to show her support—and her love—for Mr. Valentino and Mr. Giammetti at the house’s 40th Anniversary gala in Los Angeles in 2000, and the premiere of The Last Emperor in 2012. Empire may have cast Campbell in a cameo; in the world of Valentino, she’s a star.