Mini Fashion Icons: Have We Lost Our Minds?
Here's my latest article for Models and Moguls. I chose not to show many photos of the kids as they aren't old enough to consent and I find it creepy that there are so many available to browse in the first place. I don't think fashion is an excuse to ogle other people's children.
Suri Cruise is one of the most photographed celebrities at the moment and is considered a fashion icon. She is three years old. The toddler daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes even boasts a signature style – she loves to wear kitten heels, which have become a point of controversy considering a child who is barely out of diapers should probably not have to worry about getting a podiatrist on Mommy’s speed dial. Holmes defends her decision to allow her daughter to wear the shoes, telling US Weekly, "They are actually ballroom dancing shoes for kids. I found them and she loves them." Alright, then. If it’s for ballroom dancing the heels make perfect sense. How else would she execute a respectable progressive sidestep while performing the tango?
Baby Cruise is reported to have a designer wardrobe worth $3 million, although, while her fancy clobber is surely worth its weight in gold binkies, one might suspect that figure has been slightly exaggerated. And boy, do we hope so. Almost exclusively appearing in adorable dresses in her relentlessly documented outings - why her parents allow this is a bit of a mind bender, though I suspect in father Tom’s eyes it’s the greatest distraction/PR tactic a volatile celebrity desperately clinging to relevance could dream of - Suri style has become a fascination for mothers around the world who want their daughters to create the same kind of frenzied raucous when they walk down the street picking their noses. So don’t be surprised if when your neighbourhood daycare lets out you're presented with a parade of slightly elevated kiddy fashionistas prancing to their Land Rovers. Logical thinking would tell us, however, that if you’re small enough to need a car seat, you’re not old enough to hip-wiggle when you walk.
And there are lists. Because we, the public, loves lists. Who’s the “most”, the “best”, who’s on top, who didn’t make it on. And celeb children under the age of eight are no exception. In fact, they are hot these days. So much so that they are being ranked according to who has the better style, by adults who should have better things to do. And so far, Suri is the undisputed princess of the fashionable tots and that’s how her parents seem to like it. There are also blogs galore dedicated to celeb baby bumps and kids. Come on guys, get a life. It's not cute, it's creepy. And so are you.
Once up, the only place to go is down, and the angel-faced brunette has competition. It seems Jessica Alba, who is notorious for Medusa-facing the paparazzi’s cameras when she is snapped getting a coffee or walking to her car, has just recently curbed the venom-spewing in favour of playing with her daughter in full view of the lenses. Two year-old Honor (look out Suri, she’s got the youth advantage) is getting double-page spreads in glossy weeklies detailing where the pieces in her outfit are from. But are we fascinated? Someone wants us to be.
Then we have Shiloh Pitt-Jolie. Many say the three year-old is the most generously DNA-endowed celebrity child we’ve seen yet. But mom takes the tomboy approach and kits out her girls mostly in loose pants in dark colours, usually black. Aside from matching white leather Valentino handbags – one for mom, one for older adopted daughter Zahara, as papped two years ago – Jolie hasn’t given the public what it wants as far as her children are concerned – gorgeous faces matched by equally gorgeous clothes and plenty of photo ops. And therefore Shiloh barely makes the Most Stylish Child lists but has to be there because, well, she’s Shiloh Pitt-Jolie.
Let’s not forget the boys. The Beckham clan – Cruz, Brooklyn and Romeo – are dressed by their mother Victoria Beckham, now a successful fashion designer, who wears tight pencil skirts and five inch stilettos for a transatlantic flight and loves for you to know it. Naturally she is concerned with showing the same commitment in how her boys are presented – have you seen some of the getups she’s convinced husband David to wear? Imagine if Posh had even one girl? One could easily predict the fierce rivalry that would emerge with her friends, the Cruises. Tom and Victoria battling it out like two divas for who’s precious angel gets the most column inches. Now that I’d love to see, but it’s children we’re talking about here – and I don’t mean the parents.
And then we have Kingston Rossdale, another lucky kid in the gorgeous parents club. Gwen Stefani is one of the most stylish celebrities, period. And little Kingston with his big brown eyes and mischievous smile looks just like his dad, Bush front man Gavin (though what he’s up to these days beyond cheering on Roger Federer at Grand Slam events is a mystery to me). His wardrobe, like the Beckham boys’, is impeccable yet still suggests he’s not afraid to get into things as only a boy would. It seems Gwen calmed down with the over-the-top designer flaunting she was known for when Kingston was an infant –she was regularly seen toting him around in a Gucci logo-print Baby Bjorn-like carrier. I’d feel better knowing Daddy took issue with that; there was just something not quite right about a baby who poops his pants while clad in Italian designer accessories.
So what’s this all about? Surely parents with the means and the profile are going to want their enchanted offspring to represent in a way that’s befitting of their pedigree. And any stylish parent, including us civilians, knows that it’s fun to dress your kid up all smart and indulge in the fabulous fashion available for tots these days, both bank-breaking and cheap. But the regular parading of them in front of the paparazzi’s cameras – the paps go where they are wanted, more so than most realize – and the arranging of covers and features in the weekly glossies, reflects more on the attention mongering and ego-feeding tendencies of these parents than their taste in ruffle dresses and mini handbags. If that assertion seems harsh, take Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis. The very few photos of their son Jack and daughter Lily Rose – who are, as you can imagine, sublimely gorgeous with the cheekbones of their parents, the most finely chiselled couple around – are privacy-invading ambush snaps. Depp and Paradis are extremely careful in guarding access to their children and have never offered up a photo op.
Imagine, gorgeous celeb kids who are allowed to be kids, with parents who not only resist the urge to flaunt them but are fiercely opposed to the idea. Novel concept, eh?