Can money buy you a modelling career?

The Oxford English dictionary defines nepotism as “The practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.”

(From Left: Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Gisele Bündchen & Christy Turlington) Photos: Wikimedia

The practice of nepotism is something that has shrouded a dark cloud over the fashion industry for the last decade. Almost every face you see in fashion magazines has a family connection to the industry, whether it be a model mother or famous actor father. This begs the question, have the days of being spotted in McDonald’s a la Gisele Bündchen come to an end?

Back in the 1990’s which is remembered as the era of the ‘supermodel’, the models were scouted for their talent, and that alone. Naomi Campbell was just 15 when she was scouted whilst shopping in Covent Garden, Kate Moss was 14 and at the airport, Claudia Schiffer was approached in a nightclub, Cindy Crawford was found whilst working in a cornfield and Christy Turlington was scouted whilst horse riding.

The stories of spontaneous scoutings resulting in unknown models being catapulted into worldwide stardom are now almost unheard of, with the worlds top models coming from already established families with connections to the fashion industry.

Anwar, Bella and Gigi Hadid, Lila and Lottie Moss, Lily-Rose Depp, Kaia and Presley Gerber, Kendall Jenner, Iris and Rafferty Law, Lizzy and Georgia May Jagger, Adwoa Aboah, Hailey and Ireland Baldwin, Anaïs and Lennon Gallagher… the list goes on.

(From Left: Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Lottie Moss & Kendall Jenner) Photos: Wikimedia

Very few models of success and notoriety are being signed through pure organic talent, the models who were born to dynasties already have a leg up in the industry, allowing them to use their parent’s contacts to gain a career that can take others decades of hard work to achieve.

In 1991, fresh-faced young French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis was signed by Karl Lagerfeld as the face of Chanel… 25 years later her daughter Lily-Rose Depp was given the same opportunity. Depp told Vogue that Chanel has always been a part of her life growing up, “My mom has worked with them since she was 18 and I’ve gone to the store with her since I was little.” Had she not grown up alongside Karl Lagerfeld, and had a childhood being surrounded by Chanel would she have become the face of the brand? That’s open to interpretation.

It’s not just models who are getting a step up into the industry because of their parents. 18-year-old Anaïs Gallagher, daughter of Oasis frontman Noel, is a contributing fashion editor at the prestigious Tatler magazine, despite admitting on Twitter that she only passed two of her GCSE exams.

Perhaps the most talked about model of the nepotism generation is Kendall Jenner. Who can forget the episode of Keeping up with The Kardashians, were a young Kendall Jenner tells her mother Kris that she wants to be a model, a few phone calls from her momager later and she’s walking in shows and being signed by Wilhelmina models. It’s not so much the nepotism in gaining jobs that has touched a nerve with the fashion community, it’s the model’s denial that having famous parents has had anything to do with their success. Jenner told Love Magazine, “I had to work even harder to get where I wanted because people didn’t take me seriously as a model. Because of the TV show.”

Jenner recently infuriated the modeling community after telling Love Magazine in another interview that she is selective of her modeling projects: “Since the beginning we’ve been super selective about what shows I would do … I was never one of those girls who would do like 30 shows a season or whatever the fuck those girls do. More power to ’em. But I had a million jobs, not only catwalks but everything else. The whole combination was very overwhelming and I started to freak out a little bit and needed to take a step back.”

Fellow Victoria’s Secret model Leomie Anderson hit out at Jenner on Twitter, and supermodel Naomi Campbell simply replied “Next question” when she was asked about Jenner’s comments on What Happens Live.

Despite various backlash throughout her career, in 2017, Forbes announced that Jenner had de-throned Gisele Bündchen as the highest paid model in the world. Gigi Hadid came in 5th and her sister Bella in 9th, showing the world that these models aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Graphic: Ruby Naldrett (Pictures sourced via Wikimedia.)

As 2018 comes to an end, Kate Moss’ daughter Lila has been unveiled as the new face of Marc Jacobs beauty after being signed to Kate Moss Agency, the modelling agency run by her famous mother. Moss’ younger half-sister Lottie has also been making waves this year, ending 2018 with the cover of L’Officiel magazine (one of several covers this year).

Iris Law, daughter of Jude Law and Sadie Frost, was named the face of Burberry Beauty. Hailey Baldwin, daughter of Stephen Baldwin and niece of Alec, is the new face of Tommy Hilfiger, as well as being on three Vogue covers this year.

It’s just the girls either, Anwar Hadid, the younger brother of Gigi and Bella and son of model Yolanda Hadid was recently unveiled as part of the new Topshop A/W campaign.

Whilst this is not a thinly veiled attack at models who have reached unseen heights in their careers because of their famous parents, it does need to be acknowledged that their surnames did help them get to where they are. Denial of this privilege only adds to the problem. 

However, it is worth noting that nepotism in modeling isn’t always a bad thing. Adwoa Aboah, daughter of model location scout Charles Aboah and Camilla Lowther who runs one of the most successful creative industry management agencies in the world, has more than proven herself. Aboah has used her platform to launch Gurl Talk, a website described as a ‘safe space for women’, she is an activist more multiple causes including mental health and addiction.

She is nominated for 2018’s Model of the Year at the British Fashion Council awards, and seeming as nepotism isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, it’s important that these models use their privilege for good as well as for advancing in their career. They have a larger platform than many of their peers, so it’s important for them to use it.

Words: Ruby Naldrett | Subbing: Peony Hirwani

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