It was on Donna Karan’s 1991 runway that Cindy Crawford’s star was officially born. From that moment, the lithe brunette has been a firm fixture on fashion’s notoriously cut-throat circuit. There are only ever a few moments that come to define an industry, and even fewer that involve the same person – Crawford, however, has been at the heart of several, most recently bookending her incredible history with Versace with a titanic closing walk alongside four other Queens of the Catwalk: Carla Bruni, Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen and Claudia Schiffer.
When the five fabulous females appeared at the end of the spring/summer 2018 show, dimly lit in sensational gold gowns, it’s fair to say there was a collective intake of breath from the world’s gathered press. Not merely a clever stroke of marketing, this was also an opportunity for Creative Director Donatella to mirror the moment 26 years earlier when brother Gianni presented Crawford and Campbell, as well as Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista, to the beat of George Michael’s “Freedom”.
Ask Crawford how it felt, then and now, to walk Versace with the faces that defined an era and she’s thoughtful, before answering: “A lot of time when you’re modelling, you’re on set with seven people. It’s not like being a singer with 100,000 fans. Maybe you have fans, but you don’t interact with them, so you don’t feel that something special is happening. But that day at the Versace show 25 years ago, that was special, I felt it in the moment. So then to do that again, even though some of the women were different, and they had a different version of the George Michael song, it was reliving that moment in a weird way. There was no time and then there was a lifetime in between.”
While the faces may not have all been the same, the resounding applause for celebrating women in their late forties and beyond gave a unanimous vote: we want more. But don’t mistake this as a grasping for more on the part of the ladies themselves.
“I’m not trying to recreate my catwalk career. I loved doing it when I did it, but my life has moved on. I’m not holding on to trying to be on the runway,” says Crawford, though she admits, “It was fun to revisit that and reconnect with so many people. And it was especially exciting because my daughter was also in the show. I don’t think that’s very normal, for mother and daughter to be in the same show.” I’d say not.
Crawford admits that being a parent to daughter Kaia and son Presley – also a model – has been the highest point of her life. Does she offer her own tips when it comes to her children fronting brands? “Of course – I give my kids advice about everything!” she says, laughing. “In terms of modelling, because it’s their job, my main advice is just to treat it like a job. To be on time, to be professional, to not be on your phone but to really engage with the hairdresser and the make-up artist and the photographer, otherwise you miss so much if you’re just head down. In terms of how you are as a model, I don’t think you can teach that really, they need to find that for themselves.”
This sage advice will stand the two young Gerbers in good stead, as they join their mother and father in Swiss watchmaker Omega’s first-ever family campaign. It’s alongside Omega that Crawford has grown, professionally and personally, over two and a half decades, acting as an ambassador for the brand and supporting its charitable causes, while giving back to her own. And Omega CEO Raynald Aeschlimann is effusive about the reason for Crawford’s longevity: “I see her still as an incredible beauty, a perfect woman, a great mother. This is more than just being a model, it’s values.”
So, what does Crawford value? Aside from giving back to charity endeavours (she commits much of her time now in lending her name and voice to those in need, from eye charity Orbis to the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital), Crawford says that it’s the smaller things that mean the most. “All of those times, with my husband, daughter and my son, [and] our dog … real life. Those are the most important. I’m also very grateful, because when Omega signed me I was a 26-year-old model on the cover of Vogue, and they’ve let me grow up. They don’t expect me still to be that, they’ve let me evolve as a woman.” The passage of time is rapid, even for supermodels and their families.
“Time does go fast, way too fast,” Cindy Crawford concedes.