Here Comes the Hotstepper: Naomi Campbell Makes a Majestic Return to Valentino's Runway

Naomi Campbell walks the runway during the Valentino Spring Summer 2019 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 23, 2019 in Paris, France.
Photo: Pascal Le Segretain (Getty Images)

A lot can happen in 14 years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the star power of Naomi Campbell. Since her last appearance on Valentino’s runway in 2005, the supermodel hasn’t lost a step, as evidenced by her jaw-dropping return during the label’s Haute Couture presentation on Wednesday in Paris, France.

Wearing a voluminous gown of sheer black silk organza with tiers of ruffles, Campbell floated down the runway at the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild as only she can, blending regal bearing with big-time sensuality.

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain (Getty Images)

“Her walk is unique, those hips swinging in her own way. One cannot be more sexy,” the label’s founding designer, Valentino Garavani told Vogue in 2015. “She imposes her own status of a queen.”

It was especially fitting to have one of the most legendary (and enduring) supermodels of all time back on the catwalk, as the theme of Valentino’s collection, now designed by Pierpaolo Piccioli, could’ve been “Back to the Future.” Joining Campbell on the catwalk were early aughts favorites Alek Wek, Liya Kebede, Natalia Vodianova and Mariacarla Boscono, who gave a multigenerational appeal to a cast of predominantly up-and-coming black models.


The collection referenced the past as well, as Piccioli filled the Valentino runway with designs heavily referenced by the 1960s. Building off the series of hothouse flower shades and silhouettes he debuted in September, Piccioli’s couture palette for Spring-Summer 2019 included almost the entire spectrum, with a bevy of oversized florals and several pops of midcentury-worthy colors like mustard and Pantone’s color of the year, “Living Coral.”

In fact, Campbell was the only model to appear in black—a pointed reminder that she set the standard for the exciting wave of black girl magic we’ve recently seen dominating the runway and magazine covers, alike. But if the response to her appearance was any indication, I wouldn’t expect Campbell to be ceding the throne anytime soon.


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Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.