Home / Celebrity Style / Celebrity daughters: fashion’s go-to replacements for their decrepit mothers | Hadley Freeman

Celebrity daughters: fashion’s go-to replacements for their decrepit mothers | Hadley Freeman

I’ve started seeing a lot of references in fashion magazines to someone called Lily-Rose Depp. Who is she and why is the fashion industry so obsessed with her?

IF, Bolton

The first part of your question is easy, IF. Lily-Rose Depp is the 16-year-old daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis. Happy to be of Googling service to you! The second part, however, is going to make me work a little harder for my pay cheque.

I’ve written before in this column about Mail Online’s icky fondness for featuring photos of young girls on their website and describing them as looking “older than their years”; one time it even went so far as to claim a 14-year-old child was “flaunting her womanly curves”, which was nice. Quite how this squares with the Mail’s notorious paranoia about paedophiles lurking around every corner is not something we need to waste too much time pondering.

The fashion industry indulges a little in this kind of thing, too, but without the corresponding anxiety about paedophilia. No, fashion can’t waste time worrying about that, not when it’s too busy cooing over models so thin they look like underfed pubescents, and sacking once-successful models because they’re now older than 26. For all the occasional lip service some fashion brands pay to older women, such as hiring Joan Didion, say, to help them flog sunglasses, the fact is that the fashion industry still labours under the notion that any young woman of 16 is fair game to ogle and judge, and that it is the firm dream of everyone over the age of – ugh! – 30 to look 21 at most, untouched by such repulsive things as experience and childbearing. This attitude was encapsulated in one online newspaper’s frankly creepy story (and I use that word loosely) that ran last week with the headline Celebrity Mothers and Daughters Who Could Pass for Sisters. I’m not sure which part of this stupid story I found more nauseating: the insinuation that the newspaper was paying a compliment to the mothers by saying they resemble their daughters’ sisters, or the suggestion that the rest of us should aspire to this Jeremy Kyle Show-level of familial confusion. Anyway, number one on this list was one Lily-Rose Depp and her mother, Vanessa Paradis.

Depp was always going to be a subject of interest for the fashion press, simply because she has very attractive parents and a pretty name. Now that she is 16 it is officially open season on her: she made her debut as a model for Chanel this month and, as one fashion magazine put it, , she “is all grown up – well, grown up at least to impress the fashion pack at Chanel’s show”.

It’s easy to see what’s going on here. Even though Lily-Rose bears a remarkable resemblance to her mother, she is a mere 16 to her mother’s 42, and ergo inherently superior, even though she has yet to release a song on a par with Be My Baby, never mind Joe le Taxi. A similar sort of thing is currently going on with Cindy Crawford’s daughter Kaia Gerber, who at 13 – 13! – already has a modelling contract.

Fashion, by its very nature, is always obsessed with the new – the new dress length, the new jacket style, the new £2,000 handbag. This is how it maintains its engine, which is a fancy way of saying it’s how it makes money. It’s also a way of trying to stay “relevant”, one of the fashion industry’s ultimate buzzwords. The cover of Vogue this month illustrates the hilarity of this endeavour with its instruction to readers to “Buzzfeed your look”. Upon being contacted by London’s Evening Standard, Buzzfeed admitted to being as baffled as readers about the meaning of this command, although presumably not as confused as Vogue journalists. But as this column always prides itself on being a step ahead, I’d like to command all my readers to Twitter their make-up and Whatsapp their shoes.

There is a touch of that going on with celebrity daughters: their mothers have been around for donkeys’ years and even if they are still mind-bogglingly beautiful, as Cindy Crawford and Vanessa Paradis undoubtedly are – BORING! Bring on some new versions! But what it really encapsulates is fashion’s two biggest weaknesses: an obsession with youth and thinness, and a lack of imagination. Why bother seeking out a new, younger, thinner Vanessa Paradis when you can just hire her teenage daughter, right?

I personally have a deeply entrenched allergy to anybody assuming I should be interested in a person simply because they have a famous surname. This attitude has never worked out well for anyone, the public or the famous offspring alike. I have all the faith in the world that Lily-Rose Depp is made of sterner stuff than her predecessors, but does that mean anyone should be ogling photos of her? I think we all know the answer to that one.

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