05/09/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT
Can this vision of youthful dazzle be the mother of British megamodel Naomi Campbell
? No need to check her ID. Those hazel eyes and that still-girlish figure are familiar from her kid's countless magazine covers. And now Valerie Campbell, 42, has signed with Freddie's, a top modeling agency and gets her own share of gigs. "She's absolutely wonderful," says Naomi, who shared a runway with her mom at a Thierry Mugler show last year. "She's always spent a lot of time looking after herself." For her part, Valerie, whom friends urged to model, resents people thinking that she is cashing in on Naomi's success. "Ridiculous!" she says. "It's a struggle for me, just like everybody else; the modeling business doesn't care who you are. But I do believe there is a market for older black models now."
Jamaica-born and London-bred, Campbell was 19 when Naomi came along (the long-forgotten father split before her birth). While she worked as a dancer, Campbell scrimped to send Naomi to expensive stage schools. With that investment paying off nicely, Valerie now tends to son Pierre, 8, in her suburban London home. (She is separated from his dad.) "Running around after [Pierre]," she says, "is my best form of regular exercise."