Image: Getty

Of the five men of One Direction, Liam Payne, the one you always forget about, is the most dedicated monogamist. (I’m including Harry Styles in that assessment, though he also spent much of his boy band career wifed up, including brief dalliances with people like Natalie Imbruglia. What a time that was.) Payne loves a few years-long romance with hot, successful women his senior, most recently ending things with English singer Cheryl Cole with whom he had his first child, Bear Grey Payne. So when gossip headlines suggested Payne was not-so-secretly dating supermodel Naomi Campbell, I was not surprised. But I am obsessed with sniffing out the truth.

The Evidence

January 15, 2019: Liam Payne posted a moody mirror pic on Instagram. Naomi Campbell commented, “Beautiful Soul,” with a heart emoji.

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January 18, 2019: Naomi Campbell posted a pre-Louis Vuitton show selfie on her Instagram. Liam Payne commented, “Perfection in a person,” and “Don’t give me those eyes.”

January 28, 2019: Fan theories begin to populate.

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January 29, 2019: Daily Star Online, a U.K. tabloid, reported that the Instagram flirting (if you can call it that, it’s more like, a short series of horny sentence fragments) had gone IRL. Payne and Campbell were seen together at the O2 Arena in London. They were hanging out at a Davido concert.

A “source” told the gossip mag:

“Liam and Naomi were keen to keep a low profile. They entered and exited the arena via the back door and were quickly whisked up to a VIP suite on Level 3. Naomi was more than happy to pose for official pictures inside the venue but didn’t have a single one with Liam. After the show they left together in the back of a blacked-out green Range Rover and Liam was seen putting his arm around Naomi’s waist.”

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Judging by fan video captured at the arena, it’s much more likely that she just invited him to attend her friend’s concert. Campbell was clearly paying him no mind:

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January 30, 2019: I saw the gossip, and decided to blog about it.

The Conclusion

Liam Payne and Naomi Campbell are obviously not dating, but that is not to say they are not doing it or could be soon. Consider the facts: She’s a world renowned supermodel. He’s the big brother stereotype in a boy band that hasn’t been in existence for three years. The only thing they have in common is that, uh, they’re both hot?

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Their pairing is just unorthodox enough to delight both the gossip hungry and the few Directioner diehards still eager for Payne’s career to go anywhere. But in a traditional publicist-made relationship, both parties benefit from the press. Payne is clearly not going to elevate Campbell’s profile, but she can most certainly help him out. Considering all the evidence, I’d say this is a classic case of a prospective platonic friendship which could maybe lead to boning. But as for a budding romance? It’s fake!