MOST WANTED: Kaia Gerber
Text by Kee | Photos courtesy of Omega
Kaia Gerber at the Trésor launch event in Berlin
(From left): Kaia Gerber, Rande Gerber, Cindy Crawford, and Presley Gerber
Kaia Gerber at the Trésor launch event in Berlin

Kaia Gerber comes from a pretty good gene pool – her parents are former models Rande Gerber and Cindy Crawford. This 16-turning-17-year-old American has already walked on major catwalks and scored epic fashion campaigns that her peers can only hope for – all in her first full year in the job. Call it what you want but this new Omega ambassador is possibly the luckiest teenager in the world.

Outside the meeting room of a boutique hotel in Berlin, press from all over the globe have gathered for a meet and greet with Kaia Gerber on the occasion of her first official solo outing as an Omega ambassador. And right at this moment, it dawns on you how quickly things have changed for this precocious teen, whose uncanny resemblance to mom Cindy Crawford and her insider knowledge of the modelling industry have helped to open doors quicker than most. One needs to only recall the memories of being a 16-year-old to understand how life-changing it is to score a Marc Jacobs fragrance ad aged 15, make a runway debut for Calvin Klein’s Raf Simons a few days after one’s Sweet Sixteen, open the Chanel runway show a month later in Paris, and follow up with a slew of campaigns for some of the biggest fashion houses on the planet. And many her age might just be happy hanging around malls, planning for school proms, and sleeping in all day (not that she isn’t doing so on what little time she has left after homeschool). It is thanks to Gerber’s tightknit model family – her older brother Presley is also a fashion model – that has helped ground her, evidenced by the presence of her mom quietly supporting her on the sidelines (and front rows) when she mastered her first few fashion weeks. It is this same familial bond that has led her to partner with Omega, her first wristwatch brand endorsement. Her mom has been an Omega endorser for nearly 25 years, which is quite a feat on its own, alongside longtime family friend George Clooney. With Gerber on board, Omega – like the major fashion brands – are relying on her to make an instant connection with a generation earmarked to be the next big spenders. One thing’s for sure, those her age know more about Omega now than they did a year ago, even if they don’t have the means at this moment to purchase the Trésor wristwatch she has been tasked to hawk. It’s all about looking at the bigger picture; and Gerber is very much part of the main frame.


MANIFESTO: We met a few years ago at the Orbis event in Hong Kong. And we remember that you were quite shy then. What has changed about you now that you are one of the most popular models in the world?

KAIA GERBER: That was a while ago and especially as a young woman it takes some time to come into your own and the more I travelled the more I started experiencing things, it has helped me grow up.

M: In what ways do you consider yourself a normal 16-year-old?

KG: In how I live my everyday life. I’ve always had an old soul, but I don’t do anything out of the ordinary, like when I’m back home I just spend time with my family. We’ll cook dinner together, I still do school. I’ll come back from Paris and do precalculus the next day.

M: You were thrust into the limelight pretty quickly. How do you cope with the sudden fame?

KG: I try not to let it affect my everyday life and I try not to view myself as anything out of the ordinary. I think people should do what they want to do, especially when you’re young and only 16, so I don’t let it affect my life.

M: When did you realise you were famous?

KG: I still get surprised. If someone knows my name and I’m like, “Wait are you talking to me?” Because I don’t expect it – ever – and it still surprises me. I don’t think there was one moment when I understood it. I think I was about 13 when one person started following me on Instagram and I thought, “How did they find me?” From there, it became how it is now.

M: Do you think you have the dream job?

KG: It’s a dream job for me. I think it’s really cool because you get to travel and to meet people from all around the world that you wouldn’t normally get to meet. That part of it makes it really fun and exciting for me.

M: What makes you feel confident about yourself?

KG: For me, it’s about finding that inner beauty and for me it never mattered what I looked like, it was just about making someone happy, somebody else smile and that’s the biggest thing for confidence. It’s just being happy with who you are inside.

M: How would you describe your personal style?

KG: I’m definitely a bit more of a tomboy than my mom was, but I would say, it’s classic but with a bit of edge and kind of like less is more.

M: Is being the daughter of a supermodel an advantage?

KG: People tell me I look like my mom, which I take as a compliment. It’s about having a good role model. I wouldn’t care if she was a model or not a model. The values she taught me have stuck. I really appreciate her. Seeing how she lives her life. Everyone I meet who knows her or who has worked with her only has great things to say about her. She is my biggest role model.

M: Your brother Presley is a model too. How important is he to you?

KG: Presley is my entire world and what I always say is, he’s my only sibling, so he’s the one person I know who’s always going to be there for me and always going to have my back, and I have eternal love for him. He actually got my name and my lucky number tattooed which was super sweet and I kind of suggested it as a joke. I said, “Oh, you should get my name tattooed and he was like, ‘Okay!’” And he did it. I think that’s one he probably won’t regret.

M: What does time mean to you?

KG: You shouldn’t let time pass without experiencing it to the fullest. That was the main thing my parents taught me – to live life in the moment and don’t take anything for granted. I am a Virgo, so I’m very on time! And I got that from my mom because for her if she says be there at a certain time, you be there five minutes early. She’s always early, so I took that from her. Making sure I am always prompt, to everything.

M: What was one of your earliest memories of your mom as an ambassador of Omega?

KG: When I was about six years old we went to the Beijing Olympics, as a family, with Omega and it was one of my favourite trips I’ve ever been on in all of my life. I remember experiencing how they were as a family and I think that’s what made me want to work with them. I always love Beijing and am always trying to find excuses to go back there.

M: What’s the best and worst advice you have been given?

KG: The best advice I’ve been given is to live life in the moment, which I think is hard to do now when there’s social media. You spend so much time looking at other people’s lives, so just to take that moment in your life and be grateful for it. The worst advice? I think it just went over my head because… I don’t think anyone has given me any bad advice – no one in my family anyway.

M: Donatella Versace said you have this “I can’t believe this is happening to me” attitude. Do you feel that way?

KG: Yeah, I never take anything for granted. It’s so incredible to me and I think it’s easy to let things pass you by, but I really do try to take things in and experience everything to the fullest.

M: Many young people look up to you. Do you feel the responsibility to be a good role model?

KG: I definitely do and you know, having people look up to you is definitely a lot of pressure, but you know if I can influence even one young girl, that means the world to me.

M: What does feminism mean to you?

KG: I think feminism is being confident in who you are and standing up for yourself.

M: You speak about your mom’s influence a lot. But how has your dad influenced you?

KG: He’s shown me how to live life in the moment and to not take anything for granted. He also has a youthful spirit and he’s passed that on to me, we don’t take anything too seriously.

M: You are only 16 but you have an unenviable schedule. What’s your relationship with time?

KG: Well, I’ve learnt to appreciate my downtime. Growing up I used to get super bored and not having anything to do, but once I started travelling and working, I now really appreciate the time I get to spend it at home with my family.

M: How do you take care of yourself with such a demanding schedule?

KG: Taking time for yourself once in a while is really important, especially when you do something where you are constantly around other people, you know and getting your hair and make-up done, things like that. To take, even just an hour out of your day to reflect on yourself and take care of yourself, is really is important. It can be overwhelming for sure but just taking moments here and there to collect yourself and I always think that I’m so grateful for everything that I’ve been given. And how could I complain when it’s something that I really want to do.

M: Have you given a thought to what comes after modelling?

KG: I don’t know. I mean, I think most 16 year olds don’t know what they’re going to do with their life, but as long as I’m enjoying what I’m doing at this moment then I just continue to roll with it and see where it takes me.

M: You’re an Omega ambassador at such an early age, possibly the youngest in the wristwatch industry. Can you share with us your most memorable part of the experience?

KG: I remember the trip my mom and I did with Omega and Orbis, when we went to Peru and where we got to see the Flying Eye Hospital. I think I was about 13. It was just such an incredible experience, seeing how Omega showed us around Peru and we got to do something for other people and that really changed my life and made me realise what I wanted to do and that was a really important Omega moment for me.

M: It is also the first time that you’re an ambassador together with your mom.

KG: This is the first time we’ve worked together for Omega officially. Growing up, she would always bring us with her to Omega events so I got really comfortable with the Omega family, but to be able to do a shoot together and to experience something like this together means the world to me.

M: What are the great issues of your time, of your generation, that you hope with your status you can change or address?

KG: I learnt from my parents that they truly are the happiest when they’re helping other people and they’ve passed that on to me and I don’t think I can get that kind of happiness from anywhere else. The way that it makes you feel knowing you’re making a difference, so where I can make a difference I love to. I’ve worked a lot with the American Family Children’s Hospital with my mom and I think now with social media there’s so much reach to all of these issues, everything is in the light, so just doing what you can when you can is the most important thing.

M: What is it about the Trésor wristwatch that resonates with you?

KG: People of my generation and people now don’t really need a watch to tell you the time, so the thing about the Trésor is it’s something you wear every day, not necessarily for telling time, but because of how it makes you feel – and the style of it. It was cool to give a younger insight into what my generation wants from Omega, so to mix their classic watch with something a bit more edgy and new, which we did with the Trésor, it was cool to translate that to the younger audience.

M: If you were to travel forward in time, let’s say 20 years from now, where do you see yourself?

KG: I don’t even know what I’m going to be doing tomorrow, so I hope I’m in a happy place and doing something that I love.

M: How do you spend the first minutes when you wake up and the last minutes before you go to bed?

KG: It really depends where I am in the world, but when I can I try to take my mornings super easy. If my family is there we try to all have breakfast together and before I go to bed, the same thing. I’ll sit there and enjoy the quietness.

M: Are you into online shopping?

KG: I’ve never been super into shopping. I think because my job involves so many clothes, in my everyday life that I don’t really focus too much on that. My mom has never been a crazy shopper too, so we just like to keep it low-key.

M: Instagram has become such an important tool for celebrities and models. How do you navigate it?

KG: I think on Instagram it’s the closest I can get to being who I really am. And it’s how you choose to depict yourself. I never wanted to try and do it a certain way, or do anything I wouldn’t normally do. I try to keep it super real and I think that’s what people respond the best to.

M: Of all the places you’ve been, which ones are your favourites?

KG: My all-time favourite place is where I grew up in California (Malibu), just because it’s home to me and I don’t get to go back there all that often, so when I do it’s really nice to have that downtime there.

M: Your father is Jewish. How do you feel about the Jewish part of your family and do you celebrate Jewish holidays?

KG: Yeah, my dad is Jewish and my mom is Christian so we grew up doing both; we call it Christmas Chrismukah. I love learning about both of those sides of my life. We’d do Passover, Passover dinner and Yom Kippur. I love learning all of that – and learning the cooking.

M: Do you have a secret talent?

KG: I actually played the flute growing up so if anyone’s looking for a flautist then I’ve got you.


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