Cindy Crawford and Kaia Gerber on the cover of Vogue Paris April 2016. Photo: Vogue Paris
If the latest high-profile pairings in the fashion media are to be believed, individualism is taking a back seat. Stylishness, we’re led to believe, need not be an each-woman-to-herself affair; it can be shared, even within the confines of an 85mm lens. However, it’s not the partaking in a same shot among friends; it’s post-Paris-Hilton-and-Nicole-Ritche-as-photogenic-twosome. The Noughties are clearly over. What’s made visible now is the pairing of parent and child—mothers and daughters especially, the celebration of girl-woman bonding bound by blood. But, we’re not talking about Sophia Petrillo and Dorothy Zbornak.
On the cover of the latest issue of Vogue Paris, Cindy Crawford takes a tight shot with daughter Kaia Gerber, showing that fashion can be shared among family, just like good looks. The smiles—not necessarily common on magazine covers—project a happy family, happy to dispense happiness. Erase the recognisable Didot-esqe Vogue masthead and you may really be looking at a picture photographed for Hello! magazine. The cheerful faces! Cheerfulness that Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge will appreciate and approve. They’re very O too, of course.
For a fashion magazine based in possibly the most beloved fashion capitol of the world, the Mario Testino-lensed cover of one-time super-model and super-model-in-the-making is surprisingly weak in fashion, puny on trends. It’s the height of the spring season, and the Gerbers are wearing identical, semi-shiny, black, leather jackets by Courrèges, with the visual strength of the Petit Bateau school of styling.
Lisa Bonet and Zoe Kravitz in Clavin Klein’s spring/summer 2016 campaign. Photo: Calvin Klein
Fashion for a magazine is, perhaps, no longer the point when you have a famous name gracing the cover. It’s also the same with brand advertising. This season, Lisa Bonet and her daughter Zoe Kravitz appear in a Calvin Klein “Life in the now” ad showing smiley happiness a touch more natural and convincing than the Gerber girls.
Although the photograph (laid out almost as magazine editorial) tries to capture the boho chic perfected by Lisa Bonet as Denise Huxtables (The Crosby Show) in the ’80s—a TV fashion fix that predated what Carrie Bradshaw offered a decade later, it has less to do with the ad’s allure than the recognisability factor of the two dreadlocked women. Unlike Ms Crawford, however, Ms Bonet seems happy to allow her daughter to take centre page. In fact, it appears that she reluctantly allowed herself to be dragged into the photo. Does not looking into the camera lens make celebrity less in your face?
Jerry Hall and Georgia May Jagger in the Christmas 2011 ‘Togetherness’ campaign for H&M. Photo: H&M
Sometimes even when fashion is the point, it just comes out as a bunch of clothes. Ahead of everyone else in the mother/daughter modelling-duo biz was Jerry Hall (now Mrs Murdoch) and Georgia May Jagger in an H&M commercial that ran in the Christmas season of 2011. (Both of them, too, beat team Gerber to the cover of a magazine when they fronted Elle Brazil in 2013.) Once a catwalk favourite in Paris, Ms Hall’s fast fashion appearance in a Chanel-like jacket instantly dated her despite the expected happy smile. It was a showing of ultra-white teeth that seem to say, “I’m glad I have a daughter to give me the reason to be here” while average, bickering mothers and daughters would ask, “Why can’t we be like them?”
What other mother/daughter pairings do we want to see? Yasmin Le Bon and Amber? Carine Roitfeld and Julia? Pat Cleveland and Anna? Chloe Sevigny and Jane? Or, gasp, Kim Kardashian and North? The last two, maybe in another ten years. Hopefully by then, fashion matters.