ABOUT TIME

Undis­puted model of the mo­ment, Kaia Ger­ber, is set to change the face of fash­ion

ELLE (Australia) - - Contents -

Kaia Ger­ber on clas­sic time­pieces and In­sta fame.

“I still get sur­prised if some­one knows my name. I’m like, ‘Wait, are you talk­ing to me?’ I don’t ex­pect it, ever,” says Kaia Ger­ber. The teenage model is hold­ing her own like a pro at a press gathering in Berlin, field­ing ques­tions on her sky­rock­et­ing fame. “I was about 13 when one per­son started fol­low­ing me on In­sta­gram and I thought, ‘How did they find me?’ From there it be­came how it is now.”

“Now” is 3.6 mil­lion In­sta­gram fol­low­ers, con­tracts with Saint Lau­rent, Valentino, Alexan­der Wang and Chanel, and more re­cently, Omega – the Swiss lux­ury watch­maker who brought Ger­ber on as the face of the re­launch of Tré­sor, in­tro­duc­ing a new gen­er­a­tion to “a reimag­ined clas­sic”.

At 16, Ger­ber has be­come some­what of a post-mil­len­nial poster child for lux­ury fash­ion brands look­ing to ap­peal to a younger, cooler, more con­nected kind of cus­tomer. For Omega, the re­la­tion­ship goes deeper. Ger­ber’s mother, Cindy Craw­ford, is the brand’s longest-serv­ing am­bas­sador.

“When she was born, Omega was al­ready in ex­is­tence,” says CEO Ray­nald Aeschli­mann of Ger­ber’s early in­tro­duc­tion to the brand. The chief ex­ec­u­tive was pro­moted to the post in 2016 with a vi­sion to reach out to gen­er­a­tion Y, but work­ing with Craw­ford’s daugh­ter, he says, goes be­yond a short-term grab at a grow­ing mar­ket share. “Come 10 years, Kaia will still be around [with the brand], if she wants.”

For Ger­ber, mem­o­ries of the 2008 Bei­jing Olympics – where she trav­elled as a six-year-old with her mum as guests of the of­fi­cial time­keeper – ce­mented her de­ci­sion to work with the brand. That, and the nos­tal­gia she feels for Craw­ford’s own time­pieces. “I re­mem­ber when I was a kid, go­ing into her closet. I’d find her watches and they’d be so big on me.”

With smart­phones, the es­sen­tial func­tion of a watch is no longer, well, es­sen­tial. But that’s okay. “Peo­ple of my gen­er­a­tion don’t rely on watches to tell the time. They’ve be­come a clas­sic piece. Like per­fume or ear­rings, they’re an ac­ces­sory.”

In terms of her own style, Ger­ber is al­ready fol­low­ing the sa­cred rule of less is more. A tomboy at heart, she spent her for­ma­tive years pinch­ing her older brother’s clothes (Pres­ley Ger­ber is also a model and Omega am­bas­sador) and now opts for “re­laxed and sim­ple” with “a bit of an edge”. “I wear jeans and sneak­ers ev­ery day,” she says. On her wrist is the new Tré­sor (nat­u­rally), with its slim case, jet-black strap and smat­ter­ing of di­a­monds, worn with an ir­rev­er­ence only the young and preter­nat­u­rally beau­ti­ful can muster.

She’s clearly a prod­uct of her Cal­i­for­nian up­bring­ing, where she still re­treats for down­time or to catch up on school­work be­tween jobs. “I’ll come back from Paris and do pre-cal­cu­lus the next day,” she laughs. Like so many 16-year-olds, her In­sta­gram feed is filled with shots of pool time with friends, hang­ing with her dad, causes like March For Our Lives for tighter gun con­trol, and snaps of her­self. The only dif­fer­ence be­ing her “snaps” are lensed by the likes of Mario Sor­renti or Peter Lind­bergh.

It’s been a sharp tra­jec­tory for Ger­ber: signed at 13 to IMG, given her first front cover with her mum at age 14, the face of Marc Jacobs Beauty at 15, and de­but­ing on the run­way for Calvin Klein just four days after her 16th birth­day (the le­gal age limit for mod­els walk­ing on the run­way). But with grace and pro­fes­sion­al­ism, no doubt in­stilled at least in part by Craw­ford, she tact­fully side­steps the ques­tion of, “What’s next?” “I don’t know. I mean, I think most 16-year-olds don’t know what they’re go­ing to do with their life, but as long as I’m en­joy­ing what I’m do­ing in the mo­ment then I just roll with it and see where it takes me.”

”WATCHES HAVE BE­COME A CLAS­SIC PIECE. LIKE PER­FUME OR EAR­RINGS, THEY’RE AN AC­CES­SORY”

Watch, $6,675, OMEGA, omegawatches.com

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