Like mother, like daughter! Cindy Crawford's lookalike daughter was the standout star of recent fashion weeks around the world from New York to Milan, Paris and London. Blessed with the beauty and catwalk charisma of her supermodel mother, Kaia made her modelling debut on the runways of Fendi, Valentino and Chanel, which she opened to the cheers of her proud mom.
Not bad for someone who recently turned 16. Kaia made her first Vogue cover at 15, posing alongside her mother. Last year, too, she was signed by Marc Jacobs Beauty; now she’s also the face of Hudson Jeans.
It’s all in the jeans! Or rather, genes. Kaia’s brother, Presley, 18, is also a model, and even her dad, Rande, has dabbled. “I don’t see myself as this cool model person,” she said earlier this year. “For some reason, I hadn’t thought of it as a legit career path for me. But since I started, my mom has given me incredible advice. She has taught me it’s important to have a thought behind your eyes when you’re posing – to actually feel what you’re trying to pose as. That has helped me so much on-set.”
She also praises her mom’s natural beauty.
“She seriously looks gorgeous right when she wakes up in the morning,” she says. “Her beauty is more about her presence than anything specific she does with her hair or makeup – and that concept definitely stays with me.”
Cindy, meanwhile, is on hand to help her young daughter navigate the highly competitive industry that she also entered at the tender age of 16. “She really wants it. She loves it,” Cindy told us as we caught up with her in Paris.
As one of the original supermodels who dominated the runway throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Cindy is having another major fashion moment. Aside from starring front-row at her daughter’s show, she also made a glorious runway comeback along with fellow supermodels Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Helena Christensen and Carla Bruni in Milan. These days she works on her own projects, including a skin-care line and a furniture business, as well as campaigns for Omega, for which she’s an ambassador. Here, Cindy talks about her pride in her daughter, the success of her own career and how, at 51, she’s happy in her own skin.
Cindy, we recently saw you and your contemporaries steal the Versace show in Milan. What stage do you feel you’ve reached in your life?
It’s an incredible time. Doing the Versace thing was a great tribute to Gianni but also to Donatella and to that period. It was such a fun time in fashion. And I loved reconnecting not only with Donatella but also some of the other models. In some ways it was looking back, but my daughter was there so it was [also] looking forward. I’m excited to see what’s coming for her. I’m happy with where I’m at in my life, too. I have a good family and home life. One of the great things about growing up and maturing is finding that balance for yourself. That’s how you face some of the not-so-fun things about getting older.
What are the main differences between working in the fashion industry in the 1980s and 1990s and today?
Doing the show is exactly the same. Doing a photo shoot is the same, except now they’re using digital cameras. But now it’s everything to support the shoot: the boomerangs, behind-the-scenes, Instagram. Even at the shows, there’s more press backstage because there are more bloggers. Because of social media, everything is accelerated. My daughter did one show and, boom, she was everywhere.
Is that a good or bad thing?
We don’t know yet. You can’t really control it. It is what it is. I worry that the shelf life will be shorter because we use up images faster now. If I had a fan and they liked me on the cover of Vogue, they had to wait one more month. Now it’s multiple images every day. It might mean that the turnover is faster and faster. For me, as a mother of a young model, I don’t want people to be sick of her before she has even started. How do you manage that? I’m not sure you can. One picture goes a lot further now.
How do you feel about Kaia starting out at 16?
I was 16 but I was modelling in Chicago, doing catalogues. And now everything is global. She loves it. Yesterday she had to get up at 4:30 in the morning. Teenagers don’t like that, even to do a fashion show.
Do you worry about the trajectory that she might take in the industry?
I wish I could have slowed it down or put it off. The wheels were in motion and she really wanted it. When she was 14, I kept saying, “You have to wait until you’re 16.” When she got to 16, I was like, “I should have said 18.” But I had an incredible career and managed to avoid some of the pitfalls.
So who better to be her mentor!
It has been really nice for both our kids – and our relationship, because so many times at this age your teenager might say, “You don’t know anything.” But they don’t say that. They know that I know – at least about fashion. I listen to them, too. I listen to them about social media! Kaia is like, “Don’t put a hashtag.” It’s fun and we can learn from each other.
What was it like the first time you saw yourself on the cover of Vogue?
It was American Vogue with [photographer] Richard Avedon. I remember passing through an airport and being so excited I bought three [copies]. The woman at the cash register didn’t recognize me. She was like, “Nine dollars, please.” She didn’t even look up. But it was exciting.”
Is there any fashion from the old days that you wish was still around today?
My generation of models weren’t expected to be size zero or size two. We could have real women’s bodies. We exercised and had more relatable bodies. My daughter is still growing and is naturally thin. What I hoped would happen in fashion is the idea of beauty should be more inclusive of all body types, skin tones, hair. In our modern world, all women should be able to feel beautiful. It shouldn’t be one or two ideals of beauty, it should be more encompassing. Our generation was a little more accepting of womanly bodies.
How has Omega affected your career?
As a model, there’s no job security. You get a booking but you don’t know when the next call will come. The thing every model wants is a contract. Normally it’s a cosmetic or fragrance contract. My first one was with Revlon, which was great because it was for three years and you get this much money ... So you can make better decisions and don’t have to take every job. My second contract was with Pepsi, then Omega. When we first met it was just a modelling job but it evolved into a big contract. We started out on a blind date and we’ve been married 22 years! They’re like family, especially now that my kids are joining the Omega family.
Why has your relationship with the company lasted so long?
Omega is about quality, heritage, legacy and timelessness – qualities I wanted to associate myself with. I really appreciate they have allowed me to become a woman. They don’t still expect me to be a 25-year-old model; they now use me in a different way. It’s like a marriage. Some people grow together and some grow apart. If you pick the right partner, even though you both change you’re hopefully still in alignment.