Happy Birthday Naomi Campbell

Supermodel Naomi Campbell turns 40 on Saturday. Donatella Versace recalls meeting her friend at the age of 16 and how, for four decades, she’s stolen the show.

Vogue Covers

In 1988, Naomi Campbell's close friend and mentor, Yves Saint Laurent, threatened to withdraw his advertising from Paris Vogue magazine after the editors refused to let Campbell or any other black model grace the cover. Campbell went on to be the first black woman on the cover of UK Vogue, Vogue Nippon, Time magazine, and Vogue China.

CORRECTION: This item incorrectly stated Campbell was the first black woman on the cover of American Vogue.

Ron Galella / WireImage

With Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington

When Campbell came of age in the early 1990s, supermodel culture was reaching its height. Campbell, Evangelista and Turlington became known as the "Trinity" of supermodels—and, behind the scenes, grew to be close friends. After facing early discrimination, Campbell found help from her friends. Turlington reportedly told Dolce & Gabbana: "If you don't use Naomi, you don't get us."

Playboy Cover

It was quite a Christmas present: In December 1999, Campbell graced the cover of Playboy, wearing a white buckle bikini and full length fur by Nicolas Verlaine and John Galliano. She appeared completely nude inside, photographed by David Lachapelle.

With Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson, whom Campbell dated from 1987 and 1988, was one of her first boyfriends. Bruce Weber photographed the couple paparazzi-style in 1989.

Kevin Mazur / WireImage

Community Service

Campbell was sentenced to 200 hours of community service for assaulting two police officers at Heathrow Airport in 2007—and completed her time in the New York City Department of Sanitation. W magazine captured it all in a spread by Steven Klein. Campbell helped create Fashion For Relief in 2005 to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina—and, more recently for the victims of the Haiti earthquake.

Adil Bradlow / AP Photo

With Nelson Mandela

Campbell first met Nelson Mandela in 1992, and embarked on a peacekeeping mission to South Africa to meet with him in 2006. She calls the former South African president her "honorary godfather," and on the occasion of her 40th birthday, spoke out about the role he's played in her life. "I don't know why he reached out to me or what he sees in me," she told the Daily Mail. "Every time I've made a mistake he's told me to keep my head up and keep going. Sometimes it's hard because I feel so much shame. But a lot of it, I do for him."

Dave M. Benett / Getty Images

With Kate Moss

Campbell and Kate Moss have been friends since they were teenagers—when Campbell, who was already established, took Moss under her wing. "I'm so lucky to have friends like Kate, who are there for me whatever," Campbell has said. "Even if we're not on the same continent, we support each other. That's what best friends do."

Eric Gaillard / Reuters; Gerard Julien / Getty Images; Bill Davila/ Retna Ltd.

On the Versace Runway

Campbell became a muse for Gianni Versace at an early age, and walked in many shows for the famed fashion house throughout the 1990s. As Donatella Versace writes on The Daily Beast: "All the girls at that time used to have around four looks each to wear on the runway. Naomi had seven! She could change nearly twice as much as the other girls in the show yet still looked perfect."

Jerzy Dabrowski / ZUMA Press

With Donatella and Gianni Versace

A close personal friend of both Gianni and Donatella Versace, Campbell is pictured here with them in New York in December 1995. "Naomi is an exceptional and unique person," Donatella writes on The Daily Beast. "She is unique in everything she does."