Leslie Ann Horgan: 'Naomi Campbell is back - with a new look and a new man'
In the soap opera that is Celebland, there's a predictable cast of characters. We have regular appearances by the business magnate (Mark Zuckerberg), the community leader (Meryl Streep), the rebellious youth (Justin Bieber), the hot guy/girl (Chris Pratt/Margot Robbie), the elderly bore (Bono), the princess (literally Meghan Markle) and the light relief (Mariah Carey). And then there's everyone's favourite character - the whirlwind who pops up every few years, stirs the pot, then disappears again to some fabulous plane, leaving the rest of us dizzied but yearning for more.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's time to boil the kettle, grab those chocolate digestives and settle in to the sofa for what looks to be an omnibus edition: Naomi Campbell is back in the neighbourhood.
After years of relatively few public appearances beyond the sphere of high fashion, the queen of the OG supermodels (she job-shares with Kate) has made a sudden return to the headlines in the past couple of weeks. At first, it was to talk about the dramatic new look that she debuted in Paris for Men's Fashion Week; the sleek locks and sharp fringe that have been her signature for years replaced by cropped, bouncing curls with an ombré tint. Teamed with a pair of over-sized aviator sunglasses and a flowing maxi dress, her new look was 1970s updated for 2019 - every millimetre of it equal parts effortlessly stylish and achingly cool.
Next came the reveal of the cover for British Vogue's spring fashion edition, featuring an artful montage of photographs of Naomi's face. Those lips, those cheekbones, that stop-you-in-your-tracks stare… There's no need for the magazine to even bother showing what she's wearing.
In an introduction to the edition, Edward Enninful - British Vogue's editor-in-chief and a long-time friend - writes that you never know where you're going to end up when you're with Ms Campbell. "With all the flashbulbs, the fashion, the entourages, the jets, the philanthropy, the red carpets and the world leaders on speed dial, she seems to live at twice the pace of the rest of us," he continues. "All the clichés genuinely do apply to Naomi - you could not make her up and she really is larger than life."
The most recent story to emerge about Naomi certainly lives up to that title. On Monday, she was spotted attending a concert at London's O2 with Liam Payne in tow. They may seem like the world's most unlikely pairing, but she'd previously exchanged what appeared to be flirty banter with the One Direction singer on social media. It began on January 15 when she wrote "beautiful soul" with a heart emoji beneath a picture that he posted on Instagram. Said picture was a close shot of a shirtless Liam leaning into a mirror, with an angry/sexy look on his face (though it comes across more confused/thirsty if you ask me). Whatever the effect, the intent was definitely more Fifty Shades than Eat Pray Love.
Liam responded by calling Naomi "perfection in a person", adding "don't give me those eyes" under a photo on her Insta a few days later. So does this mean that Naomi and her beautiful soul are now dating? If they are, it would cause eyebrows to shoot skywards on a number of fronts.
First, there's the substantial age gap between the 25-year-old singer and the 48-year-old model, which weirdly echoes the storyline of Campbell's cougar character in US drama series Empire. Then, there's the fact that his last relationship was with the equally diva-like Cheryl Cole, who - at just a single decade older than him - is the mother to his young son. There's enough dramatic potential there to power a whole season of storylines in Celebland - and maybe even warrant a spin-off show.
If this really was a soap opera, we could expect a giddy romance followed by a sharp decline in which Naomi kidnapped Liam, or killed him, or had an affair with his father or discovered that she's actually his mother… Or a combination of all of the above. Admittedly, the chances of any of that happening seem slim, but you never really know with the telephone-throwing, Diptyque candle-demanding one-off that is Naomi Campbell. I'll most definitely be staying tuned.