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A year dating Leo DiCaprio and a fling with Robert De Niro: The life and loves of Naomi Campbell.

American rapper and former rumoured boyfriend Sean 'Diddy' Combs once said, "There is no debate: Naomi Campbell is the world’s greatest supermodel".

With her instantly recognisable, striking features, many would agree.

Watch Naomi Campbell reunite with the original supermodels here. Post continues below.


Video via Getty.

But while the now 50-year-old has graced the cover of almost every high-fashion magazine and walked the top designer's runways countless times, she has rarely spoken about her private life.

Here's was we do know about the life and loves of supermodel Naomi Campbell.

Naomi Campbell's rise to fame.

Naomi Campbell was born in South London in 1970, and for the most part, raised by her Chinese-Jamaican grandmother Ruby. During her childhood, her single mum Valerie travelled across Europe performing as a professional dancer.

"I do feel that I abandoned her," Valerie told Oprah Winfrey in 2010. "Looking back on that, you know, you sort of realise that material possessions are not the only thing that a child needs. But, sometimes, that child needs its biological mother."

Naomi Campbell and her mum Valerie in 2017. Image: Getty.

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At the age of seven, Campbell appeared in the music video for Bob Marley’s 'Is This Love' and when she was 10, she was accepted into London's Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts to study ballet. At 13, Campbell appeared in Culture Club’s 'I’ll Tumble 4 Ya'.

While it was assumed that Campbell would follow in her mother's footsteps and become a professional dancer, that all changed when she was scouted by Beth Boldt, head of the Synchro Model Agency, at age 15. 

"When I saw her, you could just tell – she radiated beauty. I had to go up to her and ask," Boldt told Vogue in 2018. "I’m always shy going up to people and saying, 'Would you be interested in modelling? You’re so beautiful'."

Three months later, she appeared on the cover of British Elle. 

In a short period of time, Naomi Campbell made a huge impact on the modelling industry. She became the first British black model to appear on British Vogue and the first black model to appear on US Vogue's most prestigious cover, the September issue, in 1989. 

Naomi Campbell in 1989. Image: Getty.

Not only did Campbell become the face of change but she was also vocal about the tokenism in the modelling industry.

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"I’m never going to say I wasn’t picked because of the colour of my skin and I’d never go down that route, even if it was the case," she told Vogue in 2018. "It would just give me more strength and perseverance for me to go out there and get what I want."

During the '90s, Campbell became one of the "supers" alongside Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Claudia Schiffer - and later Helena Christensen and Kate Moss. Women who she's still close with today.

Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista in 1992. Image: Getty.

"I spoke to Linda this morning. You grow up together, you go to the same things, and you confide in each other," Campbell told Vogue in 2018.

"I’ll always be eternally grateful for the support from Christy and Linda, especially, towards me. When we all come together, the connection is still there. We’re happy for each other, whatever we’re all doing. It’s full-on support."

While Campbell looks back on her 35-year career and loves most of it, she notes the '90s as an incredible period.

"All the decades have been good to me but the Nineties were just amazing," she told the publication. "We were working really hard but we had fun. We’d shoot until 4am and no one ever complained."

But she also recognises the racial inequality.

"I may be considered one of the top models in the world, but in no way do I make the same money as any of them," Campbell said in 1991.

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Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss in 1993. Image: Getty.

Naomi Campbell's notoriously private dating life.

Naomi Campbell has dated a handful of high profile, well-known men. However, she has rarely, if ever, discussed any of them.

In 1993, she was engaged to U2’s Adam Clayton. They separated the following year. In 1995, she dated Leonardo DiCaprio

Her most notable relationship was from 1998 to 2003, when she dated multi-millionaire businessman Flavio Briatore (the estranged father of Heidi Klum's eldest child). The couple became engaged but later broke it off. 

Naomi Campbell and Flavio Briatore. Image: Getty.

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From 2008 to 2013, Campbell was in an on-and-off relationship with Russian billionaire Vladislav Doronin.

She was later linked to Robert De Niro, Hassan Jameel (Rihanna's recent boyfriend), Sean "Diddy" Combs and Usher.

Most recently, in 2019, the supermodel reportedly dated One Direction's Liam Payne.

"I love a lot of people for different reasons," Campbell told The Guardian in 2016. "And the other thing that’s taken me a while to understand in my growing up is that you have to accept and love yourself first and not be validated by someone else."

And when it comes to children, it's something the supermodel still wants.

"I’d love to have kids. I don’t discount anything in life. I love kids and always will," she told Vogue in 2018. "When I’m around children, I become a child myself. That’s the little girl I don’t ever want to lose."

Naomi Campbell's battle with addiction.

At 24 years old, Naomi Campbell tried cocaine for the first time. A drug she later became addicted to.

"I was living this life of travelling the world and having people just give you anything," she told ABC in 2004. "I thought 'Ok, I'm a rock star too'. I'm living into this fantasy, which is really scary."

"I think what is very scary about cocaine is that you start to feel too confident and you start to feel indispensable, although none of us are indispensable," she continued. "You become short-tempered... Your little charm goes. The little glow in your face goes."

In 1999, after a five-year cocaine and alcohol addiction, Campbell checked herself into a rehabilitation facility. Now, she's been attending Narcotics Anonymous and therapy for years.

"I want to stay in the light," she told The Guardian. "I don’t want to be in darkness. I don’t have depression, but mental health is something that I care about a lot and it makes me happy to know that [the UK] is taking mental health seriously now. 

"In the 90s, saying you had a shrink – people would look at you like you’re nuts. They are such old clichés but, whatever career you do, you need to have someone you can talk to. It’s healthy. Recovery is healthy. That was my first fight and I stand by it."

In 2013, Campbell gave up alcohol.

Naomi Campbell's life now.

While plenty of Campbell's peers have since retired from modelling, 50-year-old Campbell continues to work. When asked whether she thought ageing is an issue in her industry, she simply said that she doesn't think about it. 

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"I don't think about [it]. I don't feel it. I do what I have to do," she told CNN. "After being in this business for 34 years, it's still always so surprising to me and I'm always thrilled."

But it's not always just about fashion. In 2005, Campbell set up Fashion For Relief, a runway show and auction that's helped raised millions for charities over the years. 

Naomi Campbell at Fashion For Relief 2019. Image: Getty.

During 2020, Campbell, like many of us, hasn't been able to travel overseas or attend photoshoots like she regularly would. But she continued to stay busy.

"I have no time for boredom," she told Harper's Bazaar. "I’ve enjoyed the time of not having to rush to be somewhere, to reflect on the things that are matter and who is important in my life. I’ve enjoyed cooking, doing my own makeup and hair. In situations like this, you have to adapt, abide by the rules and get on with it."

However, the model faced some hardship too. In September, the model lost her grandmother and the woman at the head of her family, Ruby.

"I’m sad for the loss of friends and family where you can’t mourn in the right way because of the restrictions," she said. "That’s been the hardest part, grieving the loss of people you love and not being able to come together. That’s been challenging."

Feature image: Getty.

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