Naomi Campbell has been known for many things throughout her career, but nothing more than her iconic runway show. The British model has made a name for herself with her signature stomp and sway which has made her mark on countless catwalks and landed her on the covers of hundreds of magazines. Surprisingly, Campbell herself never had a professional track coach; Instead, she learned everything she knows from her mother, who taught her the moves using a beloved song by Grammy-winning singer Lionel Richie.
Naomi Campbell is known for her iconic runway
Naomi Campbell was discovered on the streets of London when she was just 15 years old. She had been studying dance since the age of 3 and was on her way to becoming a professional dancer.
“It was a hot April afternoon and I was spending time with my friends after school,” she recalls. “Suddenly a woman came up to me and asked if I had ever thought about modeling.”
“My immediate reaction was surprise and excitement. But when I told my mom, she just wasn’t into the idea at all, ”she continued. Her mother, Valerie, wanted her to stay in school and finish her exams, but she finally came along and accepted that she could be a model as long as it didn’t interfere with the school.
Campbell’s career quickly took off. She booked her first big shoot a few months after signing with Synchro: the British cover It magazine. The April 1986 issue came out a few weeks before Campbell’s 16th birthday.
Naomi Campbell learned to parade from her mother
Campbell has been on the covers of over 500 magazines since her first appearance in the late 1980s. She has quickly become a presence in fashion shows around the world thanks to her powerful, confident and refined gait.
At the launch of her modeling show The face in 2013, Campbell revealed that her mother was the one who taught her to parade, as well as the music she used to encourage her. “I have my mentor here, my mom,” she says. “She was teaching me to walk the trail along the passages to Lionel Richie.”
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Naomi Campbell’s mom played Lionel Richie song on repeat
In 2021, Campbell sat down with Richie himself on his web series No filter with Naomi and told him about its impact on his track training.
“My mom showed me once and only once,” recalls Campbell. “It was in our house in South West London in Streatham. We used to have this green carpet all over the hallway, dark green – I’ll never forget it.
“And the music my mom showed me,” she continued, “was for ‘All Night Long’.”
Richie was taken aback and was delighted to learn that her 1983 single helped her find her foot on the track – literally.