She’s All That
Kaia Gerber catwalks into Berlin as the new face of Omega De Ville Trésor, and proves that she’s her own force to be reckoned with. By Natasha Kraal
What’s in a name? For Kaia Jordan Gerber, daughter of Rande Gerber, the highly successful nightlife businessman, and Cindy Crawford, who needs no introduction, it means all-access to the worlds of fashion, Hollywood, clubbing, and more. At 16, she could be living it up as most offspring of the rich and famous do, but instead, is starting to hold her own, walking her now-famous walk at all the major shows from New York to Milan, and fronting fashion advertising campaigns that this season alone include Chanel,Versace, Saint Laurent and Marc Jacobs. Then, there’s Omega; to be the ambassador of a Swiss luxury watch manufacture is something else. It’s more than being a face, or having a famous name. It’s also about representing the values of the 170-year-old brand and being a part of their family.
Today, in a private space at the uber-chic Soho House in Berlin, Kaia Gerber walks in, a lankier facsimile of her mother, dressed in a blue devoré mini, hair pulled back into a low ponytail. She looks all prepped for her first interview as the face of Omega Trésor with the editors of international publications.What on earth would a 16-year-old say in this arena, I wonder? Cindy was 40 when I interviewed her in 2005, full of the experience and confidence of being a global brand and businesswoman; Kaia is in Grade
11 and schooled online (“I’ll come back from Paris and do pre-calculus the next day,” she says, to give context.) But question after question in rapid-fire, she comes across as articulate, intelligent and composed without a single pause or teenage-inflected “like ... umm ... kinda”, which leaves us all impressed.
“People of my generation don’t rely on watches to tell the time,” she shoots back on the first question; on the relevance of timepieces in the digital age, “but I think that’s why they’re important because they’ve become a classic piece.You’re looking at it in a different way, as an accessory, and something that makes you feel good.”
The timepiece that Kaia represents could not be more classic:The Omega De Ville Trésor, with its round dial, Roman numerals, and slim case embellished with a curve of diamonds.The first Trésor dates to 1949, in reference to its “treasure”—a 30mm calibre movement hidden in its slim gold case. It was relaunched in 2014 with a highly advanced Co-Axial escapement in a 10.6mm thin case.The new Trésor of 2018 is even thinner at 9.75mm and 8.85mm for the 39mm and 36mm models respectively.
Both house a highly precise quartz movement within a case crafted in rose or white gold, or stainless steel, and accessorised with a spectrum of interchangeable straps.You could easily imagine Kaia to be the personification of the Trésor with its stylish elegance and refined beauty.
“The cool thing about the Trésor is that it is very classic,” says the new super, who had a hand in designing the watch.“I didn’t want to go too far from the classic watch because that’s what’s cool about watches now.They are a piece of history.That’s why I wear them now. I wanted it to be something true to Omega while giving it a bit of a modern twist.”
This duality is something Kaia plays with effortlessly. Off-duty she’s in her denim cut-offs and snapback caps, which her 3.5 million Instagram followers lap up.“I follow the rule of less is more. I’m a bit of a tomboy, always have been growing up,” she shares. “I have an older brother so I would steal his clothes all the time and dress like him.” Her brother, Presley Walker Gerber, 19 and an IMG model, was signed up last year as the face of Omega Railmaster. Meanwhile, her mother is the longeststanding Omega ambassador—23 years r unning of “Cindy Crawford’s Choice”—of an A-star line-up that also includes Nicole Kidman, George Clooney, Daniel Craig and Eddie Redmayne.While other luxury watch manufactures act out the generational theme in their campaigns, Omega is the only one that can claim three ambassadors from a famous family.
“When I was about six years old, we went to the Beijing Olympics as a family with Omega, and it was one of my favourite trips I’ve ever been on in my entire life,” Kaia recalls. “I remember experiencing how they were as a family and I think that’s what made me want to work with them. I love being part of Omega especially alongside my family, because that’s more quality time we get to spend together.”
“It’s very important that she’s been in the f a mil y,” s t a t e s Raynal d Aeschlimann, President of Omega.“When she was born, Omega was already in their lives. We know her. I had met her many times—one of the last times was when we were in Hong Kong, when she travelled with her mother at the age of 14 for Omega.”
“The brand must mean something to me, not just me putting my name on something I don’t have a relationship with,” Cindy said, when I asked her back then about what makes her decide to connect with a brand.“The reason why I’ve affiliated myself with Omega is that it makes sense with what I do and it evolves with my life.The quality is great, yet not so elite that a regular person can’t afford it.” Accessibility and values were what she spoke about throughout, now mirrored through “Kaia’s Choice”—stylistically, the Omega Trésor not only appeals to her generation, but is also the most accessible watch within Omega’s offerings.
Beyond product and image, Cindy has always involved her children in her dedicated work with the philanthropic pursuits of the brand. Last year she took Kaia to Peru to support the passionate work of Orbis International’s Flying Eye Hospital sponsored by Omega.
“Going on the Omega Orbis trip and seeing how they used their platform to help other people was really important to me,” Kaia shares. “My generation has a lot of light on what is going on in the world, so it’s important to help where you can, especially with something you are passionate about.” Such genuine interest, professionalism and downto-earthness certainly casted a glowing light on young Kaia, whereupon after the Orbis trip, Omega signed her on as their youngest ambassador ever with the announcement at their “Her Time” exhibition during Paris Fashion Week last September.
“It’s not a coup; it’s about the long relationship that I as a CEO want to make official,” says Aeschlimman about the decision to bring Kaia into the Omega family.“‘Her Time’ was a big event [for the announcement], not just because she was starting the Chanel show. It was very clear for us that she would have this career. It was all organic, part of the balance and an extraordinary success. It would be different if Kaia were to be a world ski jumper; that is not really Omega’s territory.Trésor is about emotion and beauty.The advertising is also about that moment.”
In t he s pi r i t of t hei r “l ong relationship” and family values, iconic photographer Peter Lindbergh—who has photographed Cindy for decades— was commissioned to capture exactly that “emotion and beauty” of the Crawford-Gerber family, all laid-back and loving in their Malibu home and beach. Shot in his signature black-andwhite, the portraits of Kaia barefoot, salty breeze in hair, and relaxed in a black suit were selected for the Trésor’s global communications, a beautiful contrast to the high-octane fashion campaigns she star s in, showing her versatility and, more than that, her warm personality.
Lessons from her famous mother (aka the “good girl” of the ’80s supermodels, some of whom raised hell while others didn’t get out of bed for less than US$10,000)? “My mum tells me to not do anything you don’t want to do and to follow your instincts, and she does a really good job of leading by example,” she shares. Obviously, her mother has also been coaching her on her killer catwalk, which she’s made her own.“People tell me I look like my mum, which I take as a compliment, but I wouldn’t call it that either; it’s about having a good role model. I wouldn’t care if she was a model or not a model. The values she taught me have stuck. I really appreciate her.”
One last question before Kaia gets up for her next interview, and the next, until her show call at the big launch event that night, where she wears a 2018 black version of the red Versace her mother famously wore to the Oscars in 1994.What is the meaning of time for you? “You shouldn’t let time pass without experiencing it to the fullest,” she delivers with sage-like seriousness. “Live life in the moment and don’t take anything for granted.” That night, she does exactly that: She owns it, and with that dazzling smile, totally loves it.
Kaia Gerber in Berlin for the launch of the Omega De Ville Trésor Steel and diamond De Ville Trésor watch, $7,050, Omega
Behind the scenes of Kaia Gerber’s campaign shoot for the Omega De Ville Trésor collection, shot by renowned fashion photographer, Peter Lindbergh