Naomi learns that some diamonds aren't a girl's best friend
We should not be surprised at the level of ignorance displayed in court by the one-time queen of the catwalk, writes Vicki Woods
Published 08/08/2010 | 05:00
THE first time I interviewed Naomi Campbell was in New York, when she was 19 and going out with the 23-year-old boxer Mike Tyson. I'd already done him, in Las Vegas at Don King's house. Bit of an eye-opener, that was, phew.
We sat very close. His collar size is 27. He said, in a tiny, lispy voice, like Violet Elizabeth Bott's, that he liked English people. "They're my biggetht fanth -- England and the Brathilianth."
He brushed hair off my forehead with a giant hand and said: "You theem like a charming lady to me. How much do you weigh?"
Campbell had already been a sought-after model for four years and soon, thanks to Gianni Versace, she would become one of the big five Nineties girls. She was pretty much based in New York.
The doorman in her ritzy building pointed to a large sofa in the foyer and said it might be some time before Ms Campbell came down to meet me. I sat for three hours.
The next time I saw her was in 2000 and I had to wait for only 20 minutes. She was 30, staggeringly beautiful, and living in London with an Italian Formula 1 playboy.
She was wearing eight diamond bracelets, which I noted were: "Presents from girlfriends over the years."
Her cuttings file was heaving with temper tantrums and punch-ups and she was suing the Daily Mirror for publishing a picture of her leaving a drug clinic. She said importantly: "If this country finally gets a proper privacy law, like what they have in France, it'll be down to me."
She told me she got a lot of strength from "Mr Mandela", who was lovely. She'd just come back from seeing him in South Africa. She had taken him some YSL Kouros aftershave "and he signed some books, one for my mum, one for my brother". Gosh. Would that be A Long Walk to Freedom, Naomi? She had no idea.
Her announcement that she had never heard of Liberia was met in the court at the Hague with "horror, but also hilarity", according to one report. Hilarity strikes me as a bit cheap, frankly. I know where Liberia is because I'm online, for heaven's sake.
It pops up when bidden, nestling between Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire, on Africa's west coast. But I couldn't pick it out on a map with no names. The one constant thing I think when I hear "Liberia" coming out of the telly is how odd it is that the capital is called Monrovia, which is the sort of name you give a country, not a capital. Why isn't it Monroville?
The current -- post-Taylor -- president of Liberia is a woman, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. She doesn't look like the kind of nutter who'd arrange for henchmen to pass blood diamonds into supermodels' hands at dead of night. Naomi won't have heard of her either. Why is anyone surprised?
Campbell was given huge dollops of staggering beauty as a cradle gift and, alas, few brains. Preternatural beauty in men or women is dazzling; it addles the minds of interlocutors or passers-by.
Campbell was one of the great photographable beauties of the age for nearly 30 years. That's if you allow "great" beauties to be coloured brown as well as peachy-pink and cream. Some people still have difficulty with that.
I cannot wait for the onslaught that will follow Mia Farrow's testimony to the tribunal. We'll have acres of print to read about how flatly she contradicts Naomi's fantasies.
How charming Ms Farrow will appear, in contrast with Naomi's sulky flouncing. How erudite and well-informed she will be about pan-African diamond smuggling, in contrast to Naomi's grumps about "dirty stones".
Naomi is 40 now and coming to the end of her reign of beauty. Poor little baggage.