Death to Nepotism

January 17, 2022

Graphic by Lianne Sung

Kendall Jenner. Lily Rose Depp. Lisa Rinna’s daughters. I’m sick of seeing them.

Within the past decade, the fashion industry has become oversaturated with nepotism. Every reputable publication, designer, and campaign as of late has included the same big-name models who are the offspring of other supermodels. These nepotism babies have access to the biggest names in the industry, so there’s virtually no excuse for them not to stand out on the runway. I mean, Cindy Crawford is Kaia Gerber’s mom for God’s sake! Naomi Campbell was her mentor! While Kaia’s training reflects in her amazing runway presence, the same cannot be said for all nepotism babies.

Let’s take Kendall Jenner for example. Her walk does not stand out at all. She lets the clothes wear her when instead she should be wearing the clothes. Her face fades into the background and lacks the qualities that make a model instantly recognizable. Her walk lacks the personality and charisma I long to see on the runway. Sometimes Kendall can end up looking like a lifeless corpse dragging down the runway. When I watch a runway show, I want to see the personality of 90s supermodels like Yasmeen Ghauri. She, and other original supermodels, had to fight for their spots, and it was obvious. They were full of energy as they practically danced down runways with dramatic walks that were full of charisma.

I know this next one will be controversial, but let’s talk about Chanel’s IT-girl, Miss Lily-Rose Depp. I must admit she is stunning, and photographs well, but when it comes to the runway, my attention is not instantly drawn to her. In 2016, Depp walked for Chanel’s Metiers d'Arts show in Paris. Though the public praised her, I found this big runway debut to be underwhelming, to say the least. Her status as the daughter of one of the most famous actors in the world is what landed her the role in the first place. What other models that stand at the height of 5’3'' are granted opportunities to walk on runways? I cannot think of a single one. Past that, her walk lacked the sharpness that a model should have. The excessive movement of her shoulders and the flailing motion of her arms were distracting.

When it comes to some of these nepotism models, it seems that much of the hype revolves around the fact that a famous person’s child is walking the runway. Instead, the praise should be based on the walk itself.

This is not me critiquing the nepotism babies themselves, but rather the people who continuously hire them. Listen, if my mom was an übermodel and I had access to training from some of the top names in the industry, I would take advantage of that too. HOWEVER, on the industry side, someone has to tell these girls that they don’t all have the IT-factor. A person can be taught the correct modeling technique, but if they’re lacking originality, it’s simply not going to work out. And a lot of these nepotism babies are lacking in the originality department.

It’s time to shake things up.

The start line is placed directly in front of nepotism babies, while their counterparts’ start lines are placed miles ahead. This same concept especially applies to models of color. During the 90s and early 2000s, models in marginalized groups were excluded from shows, so in theory, models of color today do not even have the opportunity to be nepotism babies. Nepotism robs them of opportunities as well. Instead of handing out free opportunities on the basis of status, modeling directors should be awarding roles to stand out models.

Image via Vogue
Personally, I want to see more of Anok Yai on the runway.

My first time seeing her was when she graced the cover of British Vogue in February 2022. I read the cover story where she shared her experiences as a Black model. My curiosity peaked when the article mentioned her being the second Black model to open for a Prada show. After that, I went down an endless rabbit hole of videos of her runway moments. I was mesmerized. She looks like a deity as the light bounces off her skin, creating an effervescent glow. Her spellbinding strut makes it clear that she had to work hard for her job. I saw her stardom grow after she wore a beautiful sequined Michael Kors gown at the 2022 Met Gala, but I want her to become a household name because her talent is so prominent.

I also want to see more of Sun Mizrahi.

First of all, her face card??? I’m convinced it has never declined. The first time I saw Sun was when she opened for Jacquemus’ Fall 2022 Ready to Wear show, “Le Papier”. Jacquemus’ reason for choosing her as the opener was instantly clear to me as she floated effortlessly down the salt marshes where the show was held. She could have easily been overlooked as the show’s surreal setting atop mounds of salt could have stolen viewers’ attention. Instead, her vivacious appearance shined through as she became the star of the show.

Though she’s walked for some major companies, like Hermès and Mônot, she is not talked about in the mainstream media. She should be getting the same attention that Kendall gets. She is eating the girlies up on the runway, but she is overshadowed by the nepotism babies that are put on a pedestal.

Image via Jacquemus

Although some models have skyrocketed into stardom with the help of their parents, the public should recognize models who are defined by talent instead of legacy. Models like Anok Yai and Sun Mizrahi are trail blazers for models of color in that they are paving a way for them to have a place in this industry that has historically excluded them.

I say let’s go out with nepotism. And go in with talent. ■

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