The current it-girls, the girls of the moment, the supermodels, if you will, are nearly all the progeny of past stars. And how un-American!
If the token Jenner and Hadid sisters weren’t enough, now we have Kaia and Presley Gerber on our hands and down our runways. It’s hardly fair to compete against Extremely Famous Cindy Crawford’s offspring. Why even bother breaking into the industry when it’s become some sort of court of Versailles? Why is this a blue-blood’s game?
I can think of a number of reasons.
What’s in a name?
Revenue. Kendall Jenner, despite being an entirely different person from her sisters from her father or from her mother, comes prepackaged with the Kardashian name and what it means. Whether or not it means something controversial is not the focus here, because controversy is quite profitable as well.
Plus if you’re a designer or a publication existing in these hard times, when fast fashion brands steal your sales and fighting to stay relevant becomes more and more of a daily chore, being featured in young, hip instagrams like the Hadid’s or on an episode of one of the Kardashian’s carefully crafted reality mirages is just plain business sense.
If there’s prestige in being on the cover of Vogue and a young ingenue is on it, well then that publication sells, whether or not anyone’s reading Hamish Bowles’ recent piece. (They probably aren’t.)
Being Cindy Crawford’s children is a double-whammy of audience attraction: you can nab lovers of 90s fashion and the older crowd that ogled her as well a the new audience that knows the name and loves the relevance of youth (i.e. her children.) It’s as if the fashion world cloned a previous star—all of the prestige without the work! Quelle chance!
When you got it, you do
Whether or not these women are actually good at what they do doesn’t really matter, because the industry isn’t producing a collection to show to buyers, editors, and pundits of the fashion world anymore, they’re marketing to YOU, the general public. And do you have any idea what a successful walk looks like? Do you know the particulars of posing for editorial shoots?
Does it matter?
It just matters that someone is gesturing that they’re good, which is exactly the same attitude behind the industry proclaiming that Kaia Gerber is a “supermodel” after one year of exposure and barely a season of walking runways under her belt. It’s akin to proclaiming someone the ultimate athlete after one season of play.
If Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid are gracing the covers of international Vogue issues, what do you think? Ah well, that appears to be a professional model, the best of the best, seeing as they’re on the cover of the world’s premier fashion publication. But if you take a closer look a lot of times you’ll find that under the gloss isn’t much more than a pretty face. Exhibit A.
What kind of scientist would I be if I didn’t have another example? Exhibit B, so that you may believe me:
As for their walks? Are they anything special especially in the shadow of Naomi Campbell, Karlie Kloss, Gisele Bundchen, and more?
From Kloss’ sultry strut, “the panther”, to Campbell’s insanely gracefully and alluring entrances, the pitter-patter of a Jenner or a Hadid isn’t much more than yawn-inducing.
It’s easy to see the difference.
And this again remains the always relevant lesson that everything has a gatekeeper and that gatekeeper is either providing funds or getting paid. Their end goal isn’t always the art.
Which may explain backlash like models at fashion week putting out their cigarettes in Jenner’s drinks: they have bet more on this venture than she.
However, who is to say that one model is better than the other or that this sort of fashion bloodline hasn’t always applied?
No one really has the right to decide who’s the better mannequin for clothing. It’s really about what is wanted or needed at the end of the day: artistry and theatrics like Campbell and Kloss? Or instafamous good-enough walks that sell?
The thing about famous progeny is that they’re like a sequel to a movie, or a comic book series, or a bestselling book to the movie industry. It’s a safe bet. You have a premade audience who will, at the very least, show up to the event or glance your way.
Fashion week has very recently been a spectacle with a wider reach and the brand names of couture designers has found a home in mainstream music, video, and more. Personally, fashion being an interest of mine, I’ve hovered around websites, streams, and finally the shows themselves with the intent of viewing a beloved art.
But how many people viewing shows now know of the history, know of the brand, or—hell—know who even designed that collection? They might think Balenciaga is designed by its namesake Cristobal Balenciaga, who is in fact deceased.
This is the old, tired tale of a “long-lost art” being mourned by those who dream of the past or who have a sort of disgust for the new crowd. I’d be remiss not to admit that a part of me is that fuddy-duddy “get-off-my-lawn” type.
With the future, as always, one must be very considerate. When new things, trends, and methods are brought into the light, it’s important to twist them in that light and see all the reflections they give off.
It may be a cash cow now, but someday it could run dry and leave us with skinny nothings.