“Linda called me, and when Linda calls, we run,” said Naomi Campbell, finishing up her cigarette on the rooftop deck of the Standard, East Village's Penthouse on Saturday night. She was explaining how “the trinity” – Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington – came to do their most recent shoot together – the first in “a long time – years, years,” she said with a laugh, declining to get more specific.
The last-minute shoot took place just days earlier, and, along with the event she was attending that night, wasn’t just for some glitzy part of fashion week: Campbell was showing her support for #KnotOnMyPlanet, a campaign backing the Elephant Crisis Fund in its mission to stop the poaching that kills 30,000 of the animals every year. It’s spearheaded by Doutzen Kroes, who, evidently, is another model that, when she calls, the fashion industry comes running. At her prompting, not just hordes of models, but everyone from Raf Simons to Pearl Jam have come out in support of the campaign, donating and posting photos with knots – a reminder that while elephants might never forget, if humans aren’t careful, they’ll soon lose the species.
“Tonight is actually just a celebration of all these people that have been involved and supportive and supporting,” Kroes said, in between repetitively expressing her gratitude and hugging supermodels like Campbell, Joan Smalls, and Karlie Kloss; plus actors like Emily Ratajkowski and even Leonardo DiCaprio.
But while DiCaprio – who was somewhat ahead of the game and donated $1 million to the fund back in 2014 – kept it casual and shied from the press, forgoing vaping and mingling with the models to smoke cigarettes with a few friends, Ratajkowski was happy to talk about her involvement. “Unlike a lot of things that I have campaigned for, like Bernie Sanders and Planned Parenthood, elephants are something that people can get behind,” she said of the response she’s gotten since posting her own knot photo. Though she knew a bit about the crisis before – “I think everyone is sadly somewhat familiar, like the world is a pretty fucked up place” – she was “really happy to lend [her] celebrity to the cause” after reading the 25-page informational packet sent to her by her agency DNA, which also represents Kroes.
Modeling is also how Grace Coddington came to be involved, learning of the campaign through Vogue’s booker, and drawing up a sketch of herself alongside an elephant that she posted to Instagram. “I tried to do myself in a knot, but I’m not sure if anybody gets it,” she said with a laugh, twisting her arms and legs to demonstrate.
And for Kroes, it all started with her agent at DNA, who babbled on so much about his trip to the national reserve in Samburu, Kenya that Kroes went to see it for herself. “I was like, ‘oh my god, David, come on, I know the world is beautiful,” Kroes recalled – that is, until she went with her two children and came back equally transformed, struck in particular by the fact that they might grow up in a world without the species. (One is killed for its tusks every 15 minutes.)
Kroes donated $50,000 herself and put her mind to raising $15 million more, raising awareness through social media. Over the last year and half, she’s put together a campaign with industry corporations like Tiffany & Co., Snapchat, Edelman, and PR Consulting. And the video they released this week, narrated by Robin Wright and scored by Pearl Jam, has garnered over a quarter of a million views in the last few days on the band’s website alone.
Toward the end of the night, the crowd started grabbing the red velvet ribbons decorating the deck and knotting them around themselves – DiCaprio around his hand, Kroes around her head, and Smalls around her waist – before descending from their rooftop oasis back to Fashion Week.
Watch W's most popular videos here: