It’s the latest from Versace and it’s Gigi and Karlie – of course we’re all buzzing about it. Donatella didn’t get where she is now by being predictable.
Versace’s latest campaign depicts a kind of vignette of a “regular day” in the life of a Chicago family who happens to be mega rich and mega hot. Gigi Hadid (who, I might remind you, is 21) walks along a windy street with her black partner and two kids. Karlie’s partner is a heavily tattooed business man and she’s got kids hanging off and around her too.
The images were shot by Bruce Weber although I’ve read everything I could find about the meaning behind the shoot, the most important thing you need to know is that Gigi would have had to be about 14 when she gave birth for those kids to be hers. Donatella came out defending people’s objections to the shoot. She says:
The combination [of images] perfectly illustrates the relevance and wearability of modern Versace for all parts of one’s life, from the ultra-glamourous to the everyday…
So here’s the thing: we send 14 and 15 year old girls down runways to sell clothes to grown women. A huge part of fashion is fantasy. The industry happens to be youth-obsessed and age-phobic so it makes sense that even when they want to sell the idea of “mummy” they pick a fetus. Jezebel wrote a funny monologue from the perspective of the baby in the pram about Gigi being “new mummy”.
The baby asks: Why does everyone ask if new mommy used to be our nanny? I laughed a lot.
What I’m more interested in is why, when, and how the idea of motherhood got fashionable. En vogue, so to speak.
Remember the Dolce & Gabbana runway show with babies in models’ arms and a pregnant woman on the runway? That was their Fall 2015 collection and everyone heralded it for successfully presenting a multi-faceted woman who can be both thin-limbed-praying-mantis and mother. The only reason I remember that moment is because the pregnant woman got the most boring, ugly dress from the whole – and otherwise stunning – collection. They could have taken the smock off the toddler and made it bigger and it would have looked more chic.
So why are we seeing this new angle? One element is that these days, there’s so much more diversity in fashion and modelling. I mean, hello, the Versace ads depict inter-racial couples and nobody is even really mentioning that! Ten (let alone twenty) years ago that would have been the headline.
Here’s what I think is fuelling this trend:
- Blogging. Duh. Social media influencers have forced design houses to cater to a real target audience. The more honest and relatable a blogger (or especially a vlogger) is, the better connection they have with their readers. So what do “real” women do? In contrast to the late-teens-early-twenties dream audience that designers used to latch on to, they’re finally being forced to acknowledge that a bunch of women are actually mothers as well. It’s all part of the democratisation of fashion and it’s exciting.
- Its celebrity culture. Think about the Beckhams and the Kardashian-Wests. These mothers and fathers have been on Vogue covers and their kids get to sit front row at huge fashion shows. We follow whole families on reality TV shows whereas children used to be “seen not heard”.
- It’s commercial. Kids are the new extension of status. They grew in the same way and nature that luxe sportwear did. I remember the days when workout gear was just ugly and simple. So you’ve been working hard at the office and can finally afford that Versace jacket? Nice one. Now multiply that cost by four because these days your whole family has to be fashionable.
Well what’s the punchline here? Why is this important?
Because understanding the way fashion trends grow, move, and work is critical if you want to work in this business. The brands who latched onto the sportswear craze early enough are now miles ahead of the pack. “Supermodels as supermoms” isn’t the beginning of this new trend – it’s already well underway. Stay ahead of the curve.