COURTING THE IT-CROWD: Kaia Gerber & Chanel
Text by Kee | Photos courtesy of Chanel
Kaia Gerber in Chanel's spring-summer 2018 handbag campaign
Kaia Gerber in Chanel's spring-summer 2018 handbag campaign
Kaia Gerber in Chanel's spring-summer 2018 handbag campaign

Dig through your go-to fashion library called Google and you can probably find an image or two of iconic supermodel Cindy Crawford modelling Chanel ready-to-wear and haute couture at various points in the ‘90s. This was Crawford at peak supermodel status – fresh off her now-classic pop culture moment for Pepsi in 1992 and in the midst of her highly publicised love life with first husband Richard Gere between 1991 and 1995. Fast forward to 2017 and Crawford has re-entered the fashion main frame, this time around, she is living vicariously through her teenage daughter Kaia Gerber. Gerber, whose father Rande is also a former model and now a modern day tequila tycoon, can thank her extremely good genes, family fashion connections, and eagerness to learn for her rapid ascension in the high fashion circle. Although Marc Jacobs Beauty gave Gerber her first campaign work when she was only 15 and in the same year Calvin Klein (under Raf Simons) at New York Fashion Week introduced her to the runway, it was fashion god Karl Lagerfeld’s approval of Gerber for his runway shows shortly after on the occasion of Paris Fashion Week that became her watershed moment – especially so for a young model who is only making her debut year on the fashion week calendar. Exactly a month after turning 16, the runway starlet not only walked Chanel on the final day of Paris Fashion Week, she was also the opening act – and her proud mom was watching from the bleachers. (Crawford, who was a fixture for Chanel runways in the ‘90s was often part of the closing act for the fashion house alongside Helena Christensen and Claudia Schiffer.) Since that day, Gerber went on to walk the next three runway shows for Chanel, rounding up a whirlwind year for the teenager who has been unofficially handed the daunting task of connecting storied fashion houses with the next generation of bigtime spenders. Only half a year after her runway debut for Chanel, Lagerfeld approved her casting as the lead for their handbag campaign, a job that was previously helmed by actresses Blake Lively, Kristen Stewart, and Vanessa Paradis, just to name a few. Not even her mom – at her best – scored a campaign for the fashion house let alone do it in the debut year as a model. The spring-summer 2018 handbag campaign, which again sees Lagerfeld in the role of photographer, is set in the iconic confines of Coco Chanel’s 31 rue Cambon apartment, the Parisian home and archive that also holds all the creative backstory and motifs of Chanel’s wares in the modern era. The premise of the campaign is a simple one as confirmed by the cliff notes: it’s between “a woman and her bag,” a representation of a woman’s intimate relationship with her handbag. Think of the campaign images as a cover of a romantic novel, except the long-maned Fabio in this scenario is a covetable Chanel handbag. Gerber is pictured laying on the comfy sofa in the library with a bag or two in hand – an 11.12, a Boy Chanel, the Gabrielle – expressed in various textures and fabrics that represent the fashion house’s  open-minded approach to preserve the past (tweed) as well as explore newness (transparent PVC). What Gerber brings to this handbag campaign is her freshness to a tired scene filled with familiar faces on the runway and billboards. Her potent mix of youthful energy, growing online presence, and Cali girl charm brings about a depth of freshness that Chanel longs for in their formula to hang with the social media-savvy generation. Not forgetting that Gerber also bears a striking resemblance to her mom, which makes this appearance for the fashion house all the more nostalgic for those pining for some familiarity from the good ol’ days. That said, girls in Gerber’s age group have long seen adults adopt the iconic 2.55 handbag by Chanel with their attire but its quilted leather design probably hasn’t meant much to them until Crawford’s offspring started to attach the idea of coolness to the interlocking C logo, especially to those who are just grasping fashion and luxury. Though Gerber has had a hand in designing bags in the past with another label, this campaign will surely test her clout on a much larger and more demanding scale – one that Lagerfeld and company hope will at least get the young ones looking at Chanel wares the same way their parents do. Chances are, they are already taking notice.


For more on Chanel's handbags, the Parisian fashion house launched several podcasts 
– titled 3.55 Handbag Stories – that engaged 10 influencers to discuss about their own relationship with Chanel handbags. Moderated by close friend of Karl Lagerfeld's and fashion fave, Lady Amanda Harlech, the series brought these fashion influencers in for an intimate talk recorded in the confines of Coco Chanel's iconic apartment in Paris. Individuals include models Stella Tennant and Soo Joo Park, writer Anne Berest, and The Webster founder Laure Heriard Dubreuil. The podcasts are available for listen on Apple Podcasts now. Here's a sneak peek:

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