DEEP DIVE

So Are Naomi Campbell and Liam Payne Really Dating? An Investigation

The super, 48, and former One Directioner, 25, have the tabloids in a frenzy.


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Whether or not they manufactured it themselves, the British tabloids have been having a field day over the news that the 48-year-old supermodel Naomi Campbell and the 25-year-old former One Directioner Liam Payne have reportedly been dating for two whole months. The rumors began at the end of January, when the pair appeared at a club in London to catch a performance by the singer-songwriter Davido, but it appears that by then, their fling had already gone international.

That news comes courtesy of the sleuths over at the Daily Mail, who’ve tracked down photos of the pair in Ghana, where they “appeared to be completely at ease as they side-by-side whilst tucking into a sumptuous meal,” dating back to the early days of 2019. No one, by the way, seems to be shipping the pair as much as the Mail, which has fastidiously kept up with and even forged the Campbell-Payne beat completely on their own; it was only eight hours ago that they also posted a story sharing that Campbell had liked a shirtless photo of Payne draped in a large metal chain that he Instagrammed earlier today.

While their official status remains unclear, neither Campbell nor Payne has been shy about sharing that a relationship has indeed developed between them. In addition to talking IRL, they’ve also taken to communicating via flirty Instagram comments available for all of their many millions of followers to see, just like newlyweds Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra before them. That all started with another shirtless pic of Payne, which Campbell acknowledged with a comment that read “Beautiful Soul,” complete with a red heart emoji.

In return, Payne left a message on a photo that Campbell posted of herself a few days later, which read, “Perfection in a person … don’t give me those eyes.” He also took things up a notch by leaving behind three emojis: a rose, a pair of eyes, and (gasp!) a kissing face. (Payne does, after all, have a bit of experience in this realm: he pulled the same move with Kourtney Kardashian late last year, when he commented “Wow” on a sunlit outtake from Kardashian’s GQ Mexico cover shoot.)

At that point, Payne and Campbell had reportedly already spent New Year’s Eve together—complete with fireworks and strolls on the beach—roughly 4,500 miles away from where their fling was thought to have begun. That seems plausible enough, seeing as Payne and Campbell both Instagrammed from Ghana at that time; Campbell even posted a a video of Payne dancing on New Year’s Day. Just like the photos of the “sumptuous meal” that they shared, however, it does appear that the pair had company.

Naturally, there’s been a flood of mysterious anonymous “sources” eager to confirm that they’ve been spending plenty of time on their own, too. (Not to mention how their sex life is reportedly going, which you can hear about here at your own risk.) Clearly, the tabloids are feeling the competition: seeing as the Mirror felt compelled to point out that, actually, they were the first to report any friction between the pair, linking back to an “exclusive” story from 10 months ago mentioning that Campbell had attended the same party as Payne when he was still dating the singer Cheryl. (They began dating in 2016, welcomed a son named Bear in 2017, and broke up midway through 2018; Campbell, on the other hand, was most recently rumored to have been dating Skepta.)

So… is Payne really currently “mad on” Campbell, as the Sun reports? And, is Payne, whose ex was 10 years his senior, really “spearheading a revolution” with his “love of older women,” as the Mirror has enthusiastically proclaimed? Seeing as the tabloids are undeniably biased here, we suggest keeping an eye on the comments sections of Campbell and Payne’s Instagrams if you are in fact invested in getting an answer to that question. After all, innocuous as those flirtations may seem, let’s not forget that months and months of Insta-flirting predated Chopra and Jonas’s (multiple) weddings.

Related: Naomi Campbell Talks Working Out and Staying In

An Ode to the Original Party Girl: Naomi Campbell

Naomi Campbell at the book party for “Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up” in 1990. Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage.

Naomi Campbell and Grace Jones at Grace Jones’ 42nd birthday party at Stringfellow’s Nightclub in 1990. Photo by Getty Images.

Kristen McMenamy and Naomi Campbell attend a fashion week Party at Les Bains Douches in the 1990s in Paris, France. Photo by Foc Kan/WireImage.

Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista at Yasmin Lebon’s birthday party in 1990. Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage.

Naomi Campbell dressed up for “Jellybean” Benitez’s birthday party in 1990. Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage.

Madonna and Naomi Campbell at Campbell’s birthday party in 1991. Photo by Gene Shaw//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images.

Naomi Campbell arriving at the 33rd annual Grammy Awards Arista Records Pre-Party in 1991. Photo by Getty Images.

Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell attend a private New York party in 1992. Photo by Getty Images.

Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell at the Elite Model Agency party for the Look of the Year Contest at the Hilton Hotel, London, September 1993. Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images.

Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and Linda Evangelista at an Allure Magazine Party, circa 1994. Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images.

Naomi Campbell at party for Francois Nars held at Laura Belles, circa 1995. Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News via Getty Images.

Elton John and Naomi Campbell at the Gianni Versace ‘Men Without Ties’ launch party in London in 1995. Photo by Getty Images.

Naomi Campbell in the ladies room at the “Absolutely Fabulous” screening and party in 1995. Photo by Getty Images.

Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and Naomi Campbell at the “Velvet Rope” album release party in 1997. Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage.

Naomi Campbell and Marc Jacobs at the opening party for the Louis Vuitton store in New York City, circa 1998. Photo by Getty Images.

Naomi Campbell dancing with Gisele Bundchen at the 8th Annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show after party in 2002. Photo by Getty Images.

Naomi Campbell with Prince Albert of Monaco at her birthday party in Saint Tropez in 2002. Photo by Pool Benainous/Lafargu/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.

Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and Naomi Campbell during the 2002 VH1 Vogue Fashion Awards after party in New York. Photo by Getty Images.

Marc Jacobs and Naomi Campbell at Marc Jacobs’ Christmas Party in 2005. Photo by Getty Images.

Naomi Campbell hugs Kate Moss at the celebration of Edward Enninful in The Oscar Wilde Bar, Hotel Cafe Royal, on December 1, 2014 in London, England. Photo by Getty Images.

Naomi Campbell at Dolce & Gabbana’s 2002 Halloween Party at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. Photo by Getty Images.

Naomi Campbell and Rihanna at the British Fashion Awards in 2014. Photo by Getty Images.

Naomi Campbell and Oprah at The Weinstein Co. Entertainment and Pathe, 2014 post-BAFTA party in London, England. Photo by Getty Images.

Kim Kardashian West and Naomi Campbell at the LACMA 2015 Art+Film Gala. Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for LACMA. Photo by Getty Images.

Naomi Campbell at the Dolce & Gabbana pajama party in 2016. Photo courtesy the brand.

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