Renowned fashion icon Naomi Campbell, at the age of 53, has bravely opened up about her battle with substance abuse, revealing that it served as a coping mechanism for the pain stemming from her childhood abandonment issues and the tragic loss of her close friend and revered designer, Gianni Versace.
In an eye-opening Apple TV+ docuseries, Naomi, alongside fellow supermodels Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington, delves into her groundbreaking career journey. However, the series doesn’t shy away from exploring the challenging moments experienced during the zenith of their fame, with Naomi candidly admitting that her early 90s were marked by a perilous spiral due to extensive drug use.
Naomi’s harrowing journey began with the devastating loss of her dear friend Gianni Versace, whose untimely death sent shockwaves through the fashion world in 1997. The deep bond she shared with the Italian designer left her heartbroken and triggered a descent into self-destructive habits.
Reflecting on her complex relationship with grief, Naomi shared, “Grief has been a very strange thing in my life because it doesn’t always [show]. I go into a shock and freak out when it actually happens, and then later is when I break. But I kept the sadness inside, I just dealt with it.”
The documentary vividly recalls the tragic moment when Gianni Versace, a close friend and mentor to Naomi, was fatally shot outside his Miami Beach residence. Naomi revealed that his absence left her bereft and struggling to cope with her emotions.
“Late designer Azzedine Alaïa was my papa. With him, I learned about chosen families. The same for Gianni Versace. He was very sensitive to feeling me, like, he pushed me. How would push me to step outside and go further when I didn’t think I had it within myself to do it. So, when he died, my grief became very bad,” she explained.
Turning to substances as a way to numb her pain and mask her unresolved abandonment issues, Naomi admitted, “When I started using, that was one of the things I tried to cover up, was grief. Addiction is such a… it’s just a bulls**t thing, it really is. You think, ‘Oh, it’s gonna heal that wound.’ It doesn’t. It can cause such huge fear and anxiety. So I got really angry.”
Notably, Naomi’s battle with addiction reached a critical point when she famously collapsed during a 1999 photoshoot after five years of cocaine abuse, leading her to seek rehabilitation that same year.
In the documentary, Naomi doesn’t shy away from acknowledging her past mistakes, including her 2000 assault conviction. She emphasized, “For my mistakes, I’ve always owned up to them. I chose to go to rehab. It was one of the best and only things I could have done for myself at that time. It is scary to pick up the mirror and look into the mirror. It is scary, and it’s taken me many years to work on and deal with.”
Naomi’s battle with addiction traces back to her deep-seated abandonment issues resulting from growing up without a father figure. Born to Jamaican-born dancer Valerie Morris, Naomi has never met her father, who abandoned her mother while she was pregnant.
In the documentary, Naomi discussed the emotional impact of her father’s absence, stating, “And that, for me, I think is based on insecurity, self-esteem, and loneliness, and being abandonment. That’s where my core issues were abandonment and rejection. That puts me in a real vulnerable space, and everyone thinks, ‘Oh, Naomi’s a really tough girl and really strong.’ But that’s what I want to appear to people to be like because if I fear that I don’t, they’re gonna just walk all over me if they really knew.”
Today, Naomi has the tools to navigate her inner struggles and offer support to those facing similar challenges. She shared, “It does still come up sometimes. But I just now have the tools how to deal with it now when it comes up. I have to think of something outside of myself. Something greater than myself.”
The documentary also sheds light on Naomi’s role in helping others in times of crisis, with designers Marc Jacobs and John Galliano sharing touching anecdotes of her support during their own struggles.
The Apple TV+ docuseries not only celebrates the rise of these iconic supermodels but also courageously addresses the darker issues they confronted, such as domestic abuse and racial inequality. It marks a historic moment as all four surviving supermodels come together to share their experiences, providing a profound insight into the extraordinary world of fashion and the human strength that lies beneath the glamour.