Okay, the buzz about Kaia Gerber getting her own Vogue cover is slightly overblown, as she has gotten a Vogue cover before: She was plonked prominently onto a three-person cover (with a ton more people on the fold-out) in April 2020. And it did feel plonked; she didn’t bring much to the party beyond her lineage and Instagram following, though these days that’s often enough. Look, nepotism is going to dog her for her entire life, and I sympathize. She’s far from the first person to grow up with famous parents and be enticed to do what they do, or something akin to it. It doesn’t work out for all of them; you have to bring something to the party other than your DNA. Nepotism got Kaia in the door, but to her credit, she’s kept going through it, showing up, pounding just about every runway.
But what gets me is: I actually don’t think she brings that much else to the party, because she’s never struck me as a very good model. To me Kaia Gerber, in photos and often on the runway, is a blank. The Internet has been comparing this cover to Kaia’s mother Cindy Crawford’s February 1990 cover, because that was Cindy’s first with Anna Wintour — though far from her first Vogue — much as this is Kaia’s. And I feel for Kaia on that, because she doesn’t have her mother’s charisma. The photographer in this cover shoot has worked with that very cleverly by going with a dreamy, distant, floaty vibe to match (or more likely inspire) the cover line “Dreaming of Summer.” The package does a lot to compensate for the emptiness that often results when she’s looking at the camera. That’s smart art direction.
However, does does at least come across as a thoughtful human being in the profile. Kaia is still only 19. She’s just a germ of who she’s going to become, and she is attempting to give voice to the extraordinary luck into which she was born. She’s conscious of it, and of what having a platform means and what kind of responsibilities come with it — something people far older still grapple with on the regular. I learned that she’s one of the young set of celebs using her Instagram to promote and discuss a lot of literary fiction by a diverse slate of authors — and even some plays, as with Jeremy O. Harris’s Slave Play. She’s also going to be in the next American Horror Story (that she’d debut in a Ryan Murphy project is wildly unsurprising to me). She is making a real effort to do stuff that demands something of her beyond having half of Cindy Crawford’s genes. Said Harris in the piece:
“People are so quick to be cynical, which means that they’re more comfortable with Kaia just remaining static, in the position of the wealthy white girl of pedigree. But when I met her, I saw someone so curious and excited about learning, about not always looking like the smartest person in the room, about complicating her understanding of her own socioeconomic and racial positioning,” he tells me. “She’s decided to be an autodidact in public, and it’s really admirable because when you do that, you risk potential failure.”
Honestly, the parts of the profile left me scratching my head are the ones where she talked about struggling with having the life experience to deal with what was being thrown at her when she began working in earnest in the industry. Like, it made me wonder if Cindy and Rande were a wee blase about it. I would argue that, in that way, Kaia comes out looking better in this than Cindy does.