It was to be the pinnacle of her 35-year modelling career and Naomi Campbell planned to mark it in style.
But her speech accepting a Fashion Icon award at London’s Royal Albert Hall is thought to have prompted the biggest fallout in the fashion world for years.
The supermodel praised generations of trail-blazing black women, including her mother Valerie, at the British Fashion Awards event, but omitted any mention of British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, a friend for more than 30 years.
Downplaying the spat, magazine giant Conde Nast, which publish Vogue, insisted that Ms Campbell appears in the March issue and branded any suggestion of a bust-up as ‘completely false’.
Edward Enninful and Naomi Campbell wearing Tiffany & Co. attend the British Vogue and Tiffany & Co. Celebrate Fashion and Film Party at Annabel’s on February 10, 2019 in London
But details have emerged of a bitter exchange of text messages between Ms Campbell, 49, and 47-year-old Mr Enninful in the days after the star-studded awards ceremony.
According to friends, the Vogue editor’s parting shot to the supermodel was a message informing her that her name would never pass his lips again.
Only last March he had described Ms Campbell as ‘loyal, generous, kind and very sensitive’. Mr Enninful said: ‘To me she will always be a legend.’ But a friend of the supermodel revealed that such warm words were not a feature of their recent exchange.
‘These texts are like nothing you’ve seen before, they were really nasty,’ said the friend. ‘Some of the things that Edward has said to Naomi are unbelievably nasty.
‘I don’t know how you repair a friendship after some of the things he said.
‘They haven’t spoken since, and the chances of them doing so ever again are very slim.’
The Mail on Sunday revealed three weeks ago how the friendship had cooled since Ms Campbell’s December 2 speech where she pointedly thanked Dame Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor-in-chief.
Her speech accepting a Fashion Icon award at London’s Royal Albert Hall (pictured) on December 2 2019 is thought to have prompted the biggest fallout in the fashion world for years
Observers said the apparent slight towards Mr Enninful may have been compounded by her reading her speech from an autocue, revealing it had been carefully composed rather than being off-the-cuff.
‘It’s the fallout of all fallouts,’ one fashion insider told The Mail on Sunday. ‘It is very much filed under unfinished business.
‘Edward cannot get over how she didn’t name check him, but you can’t get everyone in. I would be surprised if Naomi appears in Vogue again while Edward is the editor, though she doesn’t really care, but what she does want is an apology.’
The Mail on Sunday understands that the row has become so tetchy that Naomi has removed photographs she had posted on Instagram of the pair, including one of her accompanying him to Buckingham Palace to pick up his OBE for services to fashion in 2016.
Another, of the pair partying, has also disappeared.
Friends said the dispute intensified after this newspaper reported the bust-up on January 26, revealing that Naomi could not understand why Mr Enninful had not contacted her by phone.
They say she is ‘deeply hurt’ but has maintained a dignified silence, despite the fallout becoming the talk of the fashion industry.
Another friend said: ‘Naomi is undeniably a fiery character but on this occasion, she is the wronged party.’
Naomi’s position is further complicated by being a commissioning editor on the magazine, along with Kate Moss and Laura Bailey.
Insiders at Vogue are uncertain about her future there.
Vogue readers may notice that Ms Campbell’s appearance in the March issue of the magazine comes on page 314 out of 378 – quite a contrast to the March 2019 edition where she was not only the cover star, but was the subject of Mr Enninful’s gushing editor’s letter and a 14-page photoshoot styled by him.
Duchess of Sussex and Edward Enninful share a laugh for Vogueinstagram
He praised her career as ‘remarkable’ and hailed her as one of only a ‘handful of models famous enough to go by only their first name’.
A friend added: ‘Naomi feels very wronged by all of this, Edward really has gone for her and doesn’t seem particularly fair.
‘Naomi is no angel but she doesn’t deserve to be spoken to in such a vicious manner.’
Mr Enninful claims to have ‘reignited’ Naomi’s career when he became the editor of Vogue in 2018, by giving her opportunities to feature in the magazine.
An associate of his said: ‘Naomi’s career wasn’t in the best of places, he has given her a place and made her relevant again – that’s very much the feeling on his side of the fence.’
Meanwhile, Ms Campbell is said to feel that she supported his appointment as editor when many in the fashion world questioned his qualifications for the role.
One friend said: ‘They both feel that they made one another. Naomi feels very strongly that she was there when there were very few people to support Edward.
‘She backed him both publicly and privately within the industry.’
Naomi was absent from a party that Mr Enninful threw two weeks ago at Mayfair nightclub Annabel’s after the BAFTA awards.
The pair jointly hosted the event in 2019.
Last week, the Duchess of Sussex posted a never-before-seen video of her and Mr Enninful in fits of giggles, larking around as she prepared to guest-edit last September’s edition of British Vogue.