Let me begin by saying that I am not the first person to speak about nepotism for sseditorial. No-no. Last month, I had some spare time and I read the nepotism in fashion article. It was a fun read, but mostly because it confirmed a few of my beliefs. Earlier this year, I gave my thoughts on what I felt like a model had to do in order to achieve supermodel status. In short, the answer is to work hard. But that definition and roadmap may have changed. The original supermodels have had babies and now those babies are running rampant in the fashion industry.
One of the reasons I tend to hang back and watch the nepotism attempt to thrive in fashion is because of how well it has done in the film and tv industry. The film and tv industry is overrun with nepotism. From being the son of an actor to the daughter of a director, there is no short of nepotism babies (“NBs”). However, I think one of the key differences in modelling and film and tv, is that the film and tv NBs tend to be great.
Let’s take a quick rain check. Jennifer Aniston – great. Angelina Jolie – great. Kate Hudson – great. Scott Eastwood – great. John Washington – great. Dakota Johnson – great. The list goes on and on. But can I say the same in modelling? I’m not so sure. That’s shaky ground if I’m honest.
I keep hoping that Naomi Campbell or Gisele’s daughters will one day save the industry, but let kids be kids!
This month, top model Vittoria Ceretti shared her views on nepotism in fashion. In short, she explained that she is not a big fan of the way children of stars get treated over those in the industry who have had to go to great lengths to prove themselves.
In every social scene there is favouritism. That favouritism gets you places without needing to prove your identity. For example, a while back Anna Wintour turned up to an event and didn’t bring any identification. She was stopped at the door because (I am assuming) the lady didn’t know who Anna was. Anna looked puzzled at the entire situation. Eventually someone else came and let Anna into the building because she recognised Anna. In some cases, the girl faced ridicule because “How can you not know who Anna is?” But no – not quite.
Models need to go on go-sees. Go-sees are effectively auditions to book runway jobs. Go-sees can take hours and often, they will have multiple go-sees in one day. The most successful models plan their days early so they can get in-and-out of jobs quickly, in order to see as many casting directors as possible. Once they begin to make a name for yourself in the fashion industry, the waiting time decreases. People know who they are and begin to book them without auditions. The main benefit of this is that models have less go-sees in one day which increases their chances of booking more jobs for fashion week. More jobs means more money. Models typically have to work for four years before receiving this type of treatment.
Four years is a very long time. Imagine if an actress books a runway show because of who her parents are. No queueing at go-sees and doesn’t view it as a privilege? I guess that would be frustrating. Especially because nepotism’s benefits are unfair at its root. No matter how many parents set high bars for their children, no loving parent would see their child through hardship. The bank of mummy and daddy is real. That’s not to take away from anyone’s talent because as exemplified earlier, there are plenty of creatives who have famous/successful parents that are brilliant. But modelling is not acting.
Modelling may be a harsher environment to break into compared to drama because it is all face value. Models are there to be a muse; the object of someone else’s fantasies. They’re not there to give opinions, but to be a vessel for creativity. If they do not fit the look, they don’t get booked. That’s why it is so competitive and often takes years to reach the top – even for supermodels.
Too short. Too tall. Have a scar on your face. Hair texture too coily. Eyebrows too thin. Too dark (colourism). An extra inch on your waist. All of these impossibly ridiculous reasons are reasons enough to not get casting callbacks. It’s why I look for inclusion and diversity on runway shows, because it presents the idea of progression. 5-10 years ago, it was brutal!
Nepotism in fashion is underwhelming. There are no true stars. Well there is one. And I truly mean one. Miss Bella Hadid.
I think I will breakdown the reasons why Bella is a contender for the supermodel status, but not today. Today is about understanding why top fashion models find controversial comments about nepotism annoying. We all benefit from our talents in one way or another. Being pretty, funny, rich, popular and intelligent opens doors. Understanding that privilege and using it to provide equity is the social status of today. Failure to recognise that is socially provoking.
I don’t blame Vittoria for speaking out about her beliefs because it’s the second time that something like this has happened. A few years ago, another model who benefits from nepotism said that even though she was the highest paid model, she cherry picks her jobs and could never do 30 shows in one season. Deep sigh.
The future is for those who help others, and not those that hide behind privilege and pretend it doesn’t exist. Moreover, the horror of pretending one doesn’t truly benefit from it.