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Naomi Campbell just reminded us why she’s her own favourite reference

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There’s a lot going on in the world of archive fashion right now. Once the predilection of style obsessives with overstuffed attics, the need to plunder through past seasons spilled onto the red carpet in the late 2010s, with celebrities and stylists intent on signalling just how much they really know about fashion. The practice saw Miley Cyrus finally enter her bisexual divorcée era, Zendaya clink on to the Dune red carpet in a Mugler holy grail, and has transformed girl-next-door TikTokers into genuine fashion upstarts.

Showing absolutely no signs of abating, things came to a head at this year’s (sort of) archive inspired Met Gala, with Zendaya back at it in an enormous McQueen headpiece, Kendall Jenner stepping out in never-worn but maybe-worn-once vintage Givenchy, and a gaggle of new dresses that were actually old dresses, reinterpreted from seasons gone by. But while celebs battle over who’s archival reference outdoes who’s, Naomi Campbell has entered the chat to remind us that her own favourite reference is, well – Naomi Campbell.

Arriving on the Cannes red carpet for the premiere of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, the veteran supermodel wore a black sequinned Chanel column with sheer cutouts and pearlescent straps – one that she debuted on the Paris Fashion Week catwalk just shy of 28 years ago. The dress, a grail from Chanel couture AW96, looked to be the handiwork of image architect extraordinaire Law Roach, who accompanied Campbell on the carpet in his own Chanel set looking extremely pleased with himself.

The pull is a savvy move from Campbell. At the moment, stars and their stylists are scrambling to unearth the most obscure vintage references, and then attempting to siphon some clout through those archival pulls. Instead, Campbell is calmly reminding us that she doesn’t need to grasp at bygone eras for a facsimile of fashion power – she was actually there when it was created.

If “showing the girls how it’s done” was a red carpet moment, then this would be it – and the supermodel doesn’t intend on stopping there. Next month, Naomi: In Fashion opens at the V&A in London, the first exhibition of its kind to inspect the extensive career of a supermodel. As you might expect from the name, the exhibit contains nothing but Naomi’s favourite reference, and, who knows, maybe this Chanel dress will find a place there? If that turns out to be true, then this whole Law Roach, Cannes, vintage Chanel moment might have just been one big advert for the upcoming show. A very savvy supermodel indeed.

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