Teen Vogue:
Kaia Gerber Cover Story

It was always pretty likely that Kaia Gerber was going to follow in her mother’s foot­steps — after all, the very def­i­n­i­tion of a super­model is embed­ded in her DNA. And among a sea of social media celebri­ties and Insta-bred models, Kaia has become one of the fash­ion industry’s favorite new faces. A wealth of design­ers have fallen under her spell since her turn as the poster girl for Young Versace when she was just 10 (hand­picked by Donatella her­self, no less). Now just shy of her 16th birth­day and in her career’s rel­a­tive infancy, she’s pretty much got the art of trans­for­ma­tion down. With her stun­ning chest­nut locks, ethe­real skin, and expres­sive dark eyes, she can move seam­lessly between edgy model (her spring 2016 Alexander Wang cam­paign is the per­fect exam­ple) and coquet­tish girl next door (see her recent Marc Jacobs Daisy cam­paign). In fact, the man him­self agrees, explain­ing, When we were look­ing to cast the Marc Jacobs Beauty cam­paign, [Jacobs’s long­time show styl­ist and cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tor] Katie Grand sug­gested Kaia Gerber. She sent me a pic­ture, and I imme­di­ately agreed. We shot with David Sims, and Kaia was absolutely fan­tas­tic in every way. Her beauty, her charm, her incred­i­ble per­son­al­ity, and her pro­fes­sional work ethic proved the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

That tree, of course, is Cindy Crawford, the all-American beauty who, as part of the rat pack of Amazonian super­mod­els of the 90s (Cindy, Christy, Linda, Claudia, and Naomi), ruled the runway and became one of the faces of a gen­er­a­tion. According to fash­ion insid­ers, like influ­en­tial styl­ist and editor Carine Roitfeld and fellow fash­ion dar­ling Kendall Jenner, Kaia is pick­ing up where her mom left off. Along with her Marc gig, she’s been a face of Miu Miu and Chrome Hearts and racked up a cov­eted French Vogue cover along­side her maman, shot by master lens­man Mario Testino.

Despite grow­ing up in the shadow of celebrity, Kaia spent her child­hood away from camera shut­ters and prying eyes, in the inti­mate and iso­lated com­mu­nity of Malibu, with her brother, Presley (now also a model, storm­ing the run­ways of Milan and Paris), as well as her busi­ness­man father, Rande Gerber, and her mother, who, Kaia explains, would sep­a­rate her busy home life and work life the best that she could.” Kaia’s was a grounded child­hood, free of the typ­i­cal trap­pings of fame. I think it was only on my eighth birth­day, at Disneyland, that I started to under­stand what was going on. I wanted to take pic­tures with the princesses, and every­one wanted to take pic­tures with her!” she laughs.

Listening to Kaia talk about her love of psy­chol­ogy (“That’s def­i­nitely what I would major in”), her obses­sion with R&B crooner Khalid and the new SZA album, and choco­late, which her mother slipped her bites of when she was two — It was even my first word!”— it’s easy to forget that Kaia is a girl sea­sons away from super­star­dom. Family time is some­thing she holds dear, too. As my brother and I get older and busier, I really cher­ish the time we spend together. Every summer we go to our house in Canada; it’s our tra­di­tion. It’s on the lake, and we go for four or five weeks. There’s no Wi-Fi, so I stay off social media.”

These days, with mod­el­ing cam­paigns being handed out to girls with the biggest fol­low­ings, Kaia acknowl­edges that having an active social media pres­ence is impor­tant, but she’s deter­mined not to let likes and fol­lows rule her life. I try to take breaks. Everyone expects you to be on it all the time, but social media is just everyone’s best ver­sion of them­selves. I try and give people a truer depic­tion of who I am,” she says.

Beyond Kaia’s phys­i­cal beauty, her 1.4 mil­lion (and count­ing) Instagram fol­low­ers are privy to glimpses of a warm and relat­able teenager who isn’t afraid to be her­self. Surreal moments of Kaia stand­ing in front of her first bill­board on Melrose (“I wasn’t even the one to see it; my friends sent me pic­tures and video”) are jux­ta­posed with down-to-earth snaps with the close-knit circle of friends she’s had since she was three. My par­ents have always taught me to be myself and to follow my instincts,” she says. They also say that you should never let what other people do affect what you want to do. It changes every­thing when you accept who you are and you don’t try to change your­self.”

Kaia’s unique sell­ing point is that she makes being the good girl the coolest thing you can be. She is hyper­aware of the count­less eyes watch­ing her life and work on Instagram, and she feels a respon­si­bil­ity to be some­one they can be proud of. It is so key to me to be a good role model for young girls and some­one their mom would want them to look up to,” she stresses. I now reach so many people, and it’s hard for them to know what is real. I don’t take any plat­form I have lightly. It’s so impor­tant to send a good mes­sage.”

Right now, Kaia’s wrap­ping chem­istry classes at summer school before her first big show season this fall, but some­thing tells me she won’t have any trou­ble as it is likely to be the first of many. Jeremy Scott muses, Even when I met her briefly last year when she came to cheer on Presley at the Moschino resort show, I knew hers is the kind of clas­sic American beauty that is time­less and never goes out of style.” Supermodel Karlie Kloss con­curs, reflect­ing, Launching a career this early isn’t easy, though Kaia’s abil­ity to bal­ance her life as a model, stu­dent, daugh­ter, sister, and friend is a tes­ta­ment to her hard work and authen­tic­ity, which is the per­fect recipe for suc­cess.” Karlie’s poly­mathic approach to life — flaw­lessly mixing mod­el­ing with found­ing a coding camp for girls — is one that res­onates with Kaia. I really look up to Karlie,” Kaia says. She’s broken all the rules of what a model should be and uses her plat­form to ben­e­fit others. Plus we’ve met a bunch of times, and she’s one of the nicest people ever. All my icons I look up to as people, not just their work. Iconic’ is not a word I use lightly. You have to earn it.” With Kaia’s star firmly in the ascen­dant, she’s well on her way.