Cindy Crawford talks ageing gracefully and model children.
Earlier this month, Cindy Crawford was on a boat on Sydney Harbour when George Michael’s Freedom! ’90 started playing. “Do your bath thing,” urged a fellow reveller, encouraging the supermodel to reprise her famous tub scene from the video. And so it was that one of the world’s most recognisable faces threw back her head and began to sing the 1990 anthem – albeit this time while fully clothed.
It has been 27 years since she shot the iconic music video with a clutch of other supers, so could she even recall the words? Of course she could.
IF LINDA EVANGELISTA was the model who refused to get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day and Naomi Campbell became synonymous with swearing and throwing phones, then Crawford was the good girl. While Christy Turlington later admitted to trying to learn the lyrics to the song in a taxi on the way to the Freedom! ’90 shoot, Crawford was the one who’d listened to it over and over on her Walkman, determined she’d know every line off by heart.
Elegant in a sheath dress while in Australia to promote Omega’s Her Time exhibition of vintage watches, Crawford, 51, is as polished and professional as ever. Like each of the models who featured in Freedom! ’90, she tweeted following Michael’s death, but rather than looking back nostalgically, she focused on the fact his music still resonates: “George’s death is so sad, but his message is so empowering and every bit as relevant today as it was then.”
Crawford, too, has remained relevant – not an easy task when your industry is as ephemeral as a 10-second Snapchat. Having seemed the least colourful of the original supers during their ’90s heyday, Crawford is the one who appears to have got it right. There’s the 19-year marriage to her husband Rande Gerber, two genetically blessed yet normal kids, great friends, enduring business relationships such as her work with Omega, and an innate happiness born of sound choices rather than good luck. She says it comes down to prioritising the right things.
“We don’t live in New York or LA, but in Malibu, which is more like a village,” she tells Stellar. “I make my husband a priority and don’t take things for granted. If I’m away for three days, then I make sure I’m around the next week. I’m very realistic about how much time stuff takes and I find the balance.”
That balance is evident in her face. Crawford is just as stunning as you’d expect her to be, but she also boasts the same fine lines you’d find in anyone her age. It’s reassuring – until she sits in front of the camera and you uncover her secret: bone structure. Everything fits together like some magnificent piece of architecture, and therein lies the difference between model and mortal.
Is ageing more confronting, Stellar asks, when your currency is your face? “I don’t look the same as when I was 20 or 30, but the challenge is to embrace that and the life you’ve built along with that,” she says. “You wouldn’t have that life if you didn’t have a few wrinkles.”
Sometimes she looks at her 15-yearold daughter Kaia, a model, and sees her own hair or legs how they used to be. But there’s no envy, just maternal pride. An agency approached her to sign both children – her son Presley, 17, is also modelling – and Crawford professes to be excited rather than wary about the experiences ahead.
“Kaia would be a model even if I wasn’t her mother,” she insists. “She has the look, the body proportions and she knows how to move. Certainly being my daughter has helped get eyes on her, and the big advantage is she doesn’t have to do all the crappy catalogue jobs that I had to do.”
While Crawford started out modelling belts, Kaia has already worked with top photographers including Steven Meisel, Mario Testino and Bruce Weber. “It’s great because she’s learning from the best, but it’s also a disadvantage as it’s easy to make a Valentino gown look good,” Crawford says. “You also have to learn to make something out of nothing.”
Further separating Kaia’s experience from her mum’s is the advent of social media. Models like Cara Delevingne and Kendall Jenner are booked because of their following but, as Crawford adds, it’s a huge responsibility. “Social media is like a hungry little machine – you have to feed it.”
So how does she manage her children’s need to build a following with the common parental refrain to “get off your phone”? “It’s all about family values,” she says. “If we go out for dinner, I don’t get out my phone and they take their cues from us. Both my kids are pretty good – but I do feel bad for them, and all teenagers, because they have no privacy.”
And as for the edict women over 50 shouldn’t have long hair, Crawford scoffs. “Someone cut off my ponytail when I was 18, and I was so traumatised I’ve never cut it short again,” she says. “Whatever makes you feel good – that’s the rule.” The Her Time exhibition is at Omega’s Martin Place boutique in Sydney until March 24.
“I don’t look the same as when I was 20 or 30… the challenge is to embrace that”
SUPER POWERS (clockwise from top) (from left) Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington in 1991; starring in the new Omega campaign; with Rande Gerber and their kids Kaia and Presley recently.