In February, the main supermodel of the 90s, Cindy Crawford, turned 56. She was finally replaced on the catwalk by her 21-year-old daughter Kaia Gerber.
“She combines a classic beauty with a common American’s dream girl,” designer Karl Lagerfeld once said of Cindy. She became an incarnation of American beauty in 1992 after her Pepsi commercial: dressed in short denim shorts and a white tank top, Crawford stepped out of a red Lamborghini at a gas station, slowly walked to the vending machine and started expressively drinking a soda. The onlookers, represented by the backyard boys, were left impressed. After this video sales of the drink increased several times, and passersby began to shout after Cindy: “Hey, Pepsi!”
Cynthia Ann Crawford was 16 when a photographer spotted her during a student corn harvest. A lucky shot helped Cindy, the daughter of a nurse and an electrician, decide to enter the Elite Model Look contest, where she won second place.
Perfect facial proportions, a luxurious mop of brown hair, a sharp look, and, of course, the legendary mole above her upper lip… At first, perfectionist photo editors erased the “flaw” from all the pictures, but Crawford soon banned it.
No one else had any doubts: this is a superwoman. However, Cindy repeatedly admitted that she was not always like that:
“The truth is that I never thought I was beautiful. Early in my career I felt very uncomfortable, and no one in the business took the time to say a kind word to me. I had such a pejorative view of my appearance that it took me about ten years to come to terms with myself and become confident enough to smile on camera on command.”
In the early ’90s, her name became so recognizable that it no longer required a last name. Cindy, Claudia, Naomi, Christy, Elle, Eva and Linda – they were the queens of catwalks, covers and parties, outshining even Hollywood actresses and singers. This was the golden age of supermodels.
“I was lucky enough to get into the industry at a time when it needed a new look, different from the classic blonde and blue-eyed beauty. Christie Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and myself, we were very different, and that diversity helped create totally non-intersecting looks. I was the girl next door, the sexy American girl next door. Plus I had a pretty athletic build, which gave me a bit of an edge and made for some interesting challenges for photographers,” Cindy said.
In an interview on the eve of her 50th birthday, she confessed:
“There used to be very few women who graced the covers of magazines. And now you go to Instagram and you see a girl with a million followers that you’ve never heard of before. And she’s beautiful. Thanks to social media, beauty is no longer a rarity.”
Coming to terms with new circumstances, changed beauty standards, and her own age has not been easy:
“Just yesterday I was a 20-year-old model on the cover of Vogue, and suddenly I was replaced by my daughter. Of course, I’d like my waistline and skin to stay the same. But I’m not going to try to look 20 or 30 years old. All I want is to look cool for my 50s.”
Cindy has been happily married for over 20 years to Randy Gerber, a former model and now a restaurant and nightclub owner in New York and Los Angeles. They were married on a beach in the Bahamas. Both were barefoot, the groom in a white linen shirt, the bride in a short John Galliano combi dress, which she keeps to this day (as well as the denim shorts from the Pepsi commercial). The model believes that the secret to a strong marriage is to set the right priorities:
“We live in Malibu, and this city is more like a village. I always put my husband first. If I have to go away for three days, I make sure we don’t split up the whole next week.”
The couple has two children, a son, Presley, and a daughter, Kaia. Both followed in their mother’s footsteps.
“When my daughter was little, we used to play photo shoots. Kaia would come home alone or with a friend, where I would do their hair and makeup in five minutes. I was the stylist, hairstylist and makeup artist. There’s a little bridge at the entrance to the house and the kids used it as a catwalk,” Cindy recalls.
Reality has surpassed Kaia’s wildest dreams: over the past year she has become one of the most in-demand models of the moment, overtaking Kendall Jenner and the Hadid sisters.
Kaia as a child
“I didn’t talk her out of it or talk her into becoming a model,” says Cindy Crawford. “Kids often look up to their parents.”
Cindy does not give any special recommendations to children in terms of the profession. In her opinion, the relationship of every model with the camera is different, and all the advice is more about organization:
“I remind the kids that they should never be late, that they should be prepared, professional, not sit on the phone, but communicate with people, and, of course, have fun at work… Both Kaia and Presley have their heads on their shoulders, they’re both smart, so I’m not worried about them.”
She made her modeling debut at the age of ten in an ad campaign for Young Versace. Soon “mini Cindy” started working with Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Burberry, Miu Miu, Fendi, Prada, Moschino and Alexander Wang. As a teenager she featured twice on the cover of Vogue, first with her mother and then by herself when she was 16. Crawford, of course, does not consider her daughter to be a competitor, but she refused to go on the catwalk with her. It happened only once, at the Versace show.
“I was called to participate in it long before they invited Kaia. Donatella Versace and I had discussed the show a long time ago in memory of her brother Gianni. I don’t think she knew at the time that Kaia would be a sought-after model,” Cindy explained. “It was pretty cool, but I hope we never show up at the same fashion show again. I don’t want to stand next to Kaia, I want to stand with a woman my own age!”
At Milan Fashion Week, not a single show went by without Kaia.
Since the noughties, Cindy has been going out on the runway less and less and devoting more and more time to herself:
“The first thing I do in the morning is go to the ocean, watch the sunrise. It’s a time when no one bothers me and I can tune in for the day.”
In 2016, Crawford announced the end of her career.
“When I was young, I was mostly concerned about my figure. I used to say to myself, ‘If I can fit into tight jeans, I’m beautiful.'”
Today, she’s no longer so fixated on the pursuit of perfection – rather, she accepts herself for who she is.
To look her best at her age, Cindy works out at least three hours a week, engages in hiking and tries to eat a lot of fish and vegetables.
She talks openly about how she is changing, and she is not afraid of these changes:
“Yes, my skin, my hair, my body are different. I am working on myself, but I realize that I am over 50. It’s a lot harder to keep in shape now. But I see my girlfriends and realize that they’re beautiful, and I’m not talking about looks. At times like this, I realize that women should be less critical of themselves.”