Cindy: ‘I love working with Kaia’
Next time you take a bad selfie, be fortified in the knowledge that Cindy Crawford can’t get the hang of it either. ‘All of my daughter’s friends, they know their good angle, they’re much more sophisticated about that. I still can’t quite figure out the selfie thing, maybe it’s just that I’m not 16 but I’m like, “How do you do this?”,’ she says when Grazia sits down to talk to the original supermodel during Paris Fashion Week.
It’s hard to imagine that the Cindy Crawford could take anything but an amazing picture. Because in the fashion world, when what’s of-the-moment can become over in the blink of a perfectly kohled eye, it takes something extra special to exhibit the kind of staying power she has. Over 30 years since her first Vogue cover, in a career that’s seen her front everything from Pepsi to Calvin Klein to Revlon, and encouraged a whole generation of women to pencil on moles: Cindy is the kind of icon the word was made for.
Now, thanks to her daughter Kaia Gerber, 16, everyone’s fallen in love with Cindy all over again. Having the original super as your mum does mean Kaia’s runway reign this season has a sense of inevitability about it. It’s not just that Kaia bears a striking resemblance to her mum, but that she also possesses the same easy professionalism – one that’s born out of growing up around the bright lights of fashion. ‘ When she was little she used to play “photo shoot”. And so, if she had a friend over I would dress them up in my clothes. I was the stylist, hair, make-up, photographer,’ Cindy recalls affectionately.
She describes Kaia as ‘an old soul’, ‘a good student’ and someone with her head firmly screwed on. Did she give her any advice before she made her catwalk debut this season? ‘I said to her, “I personally am not a fan of that vacant stare and that kind of robotic walk.” That wasn’t how the models of my generation walked. My advice is: people love to see personality. When you’re walking down the runway you should look like, “This is the best dress I’ve ever worn and I feel great in it and don’t you wish you had it.” Because in the end, we’re trying to sell dresses, right? I feel like when she walked Wang she just brought it. She wasn’t afraid to make her own walk and not try to just follow what everyone else was doing. I’m proud of her.’
The two had previously shot together for French Vogue in 2016. ‘It was fun working together, I’m not sure she loves working with me,’ she laughs. ‘ You know I’m still her mother and I’m probably a little, “keep your chin up” or whatever.’ She’s like, “Mum, I’ve got this.” And it’s good, I want her to find her own way of being but it’s also great because she does know I know what I’m talking about. She does listen to me when it comes to the fashion world.’ Sometimes, mum really does know best.
Never underestimate a supermodel, however. Cindy’s had her own moment in the spotlight this season, making a surprise appearance at the end of the Versace show alongside fellow supers Carla Bruni, Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen and Claudia Schiffer in Donatella Versace’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni. ‘All of us were standing there right before the curtain went up and we were laughing, and then, about 10 seconds before, we were like, “Oh my gosh we’re nervous. We’re actually nervous!”’
The moment – which was kept a secret even from the other models walking in the show until half an hour before – was kept under wraps for months. Those nerves were in part down to the close relationship Cindy, and the other models, had had with Gianni. ‘I think certainly we all feel part of the Versace family. For me, working with Gianni and that brand was such an important part of the beginning part of my career. And the thing that was amazing about Versace was that he loved celebrating sexy but powerful women. And I think that’s what the late ’80s, early ’90s was all about: you can be both, you don’t have to pick. [ Versace showed] you can be super sexy and strong and powerful. I think that’s a great kind of feminist message for women through fashion. I loved being part of that.’
Nowadays Cindy mostly works on her own projects, which include a skincare line, Meaningful Beauty, and a furniture business. It has to be something extra special to tempt her back in front of the camera. ‘But then occasionally something will come up – it’s either a brand I like, or a photographer I really like, or something cool – I always say I always have something better to be doing now, which is being with my family. So, I have to tick more boxes off in order to say yes.’
One of the jobs that she continues to say ‘ Yes’ to is as an Omega ambassador, a relationship which is still going strong after 20 years. This season she’s joined in the Omega family by Kaia and her son, Presley. To celebrate, legendary photographer Peter Lindbergh shot a portrait of the whole family, including dad Rande. This really is the season of the Crawford- Gerbers.
What she enjoys about her Omega relationship is that the Swiss watchmaker has allowed her to grow and change. ‘I’m not a 25-year-old girl on the cover of Vogue any more; I’m a 51-year old woman, I’m a businesswoman, I’m a wife, I’m a mother, yes I’m still a model but it wasn’t like, “OK now we’re going to dump her and find the new Cindy Crawford.” They’ve let me evolve. That’s what you hope for out of a long-term relationship, even a marriage, you hope you grow together,’ she says – adding with a laugh, ‘And now they did get the new Cindy Crawford!’ We beg to differ, there really is only one Cindy Crawford.