The fashion rumor mill is once again, well, milling. Karl Lagerfeld is said to be in talks to feature fifteen-year old Frances Bean Cobain, offspring of Kurt and Courtney, as the face of the next round of ads for Chanel. I have two antithetical thoughts on this, and they are at absolute odds.
On the one hand, it’s simple; Karl Lagerfeld is a genius. Arguably the highest in demand and most influential designer of the late 20th Century, the Kaiser is currently designing for Chanel, Fendi and his eponymous label, at a rate of about four lines per year per brand.
At seventy-four years old he has a vision that is absolutely modern and somehow equally ahead of its time. Amy Winehouse played at his most recent show, he was the first designer collaborator at H&M, Lindsay Lohan was next to him at a fashion show staged in LA, next to a plane, wearing fingerless leather gloves, at the peak of her fame.
Where else would Karl be than on the pulse of the “Grunge Renaissance,” a modernized reincarnation of a 90s sensibility? As refined a label as Chanel is and always has been, there is an edge to it that befits the rock-star persona the man behind it all shares with the girl most likely to don a boucle jacket ironically.
What better way to rep this mood than with the version 2.0 of the quintessential 90’s alt rock superstars, the frontman for Nirvana and the perpetually newsworthy, slightly off-kilter Courtney Love, she of askew tiara and ripped baby doll dress fame. The idea is inspired, and yet something about it clashes more than a buffalo plaid flannel paired with a floral mini and Doc Martens.
My opposition can be summed up neatly: the offspring of a celebrity are not in and of themselves a celebrity. It should be one of Newton’s laws.
The degree of tragedy Francis Bean has endured has been widely publicized. Losing her father at a shockingly young age to a drug overdose, and having her mother in and out of her life more times than she’s been in and out of rehab are wounds that do not heal easily. I do not minimize any of that, but in the spirit of Rumor Willis, I have to ask, what other than the fact that the young Cobain was born to two famous parents, even one thought of as the voice of an entire generation, makes her notable?
I disdain the idea that simply owning shared DNA sanctions anyone with recognition. It is a symptom of the disease of our national obsession with celebrity: that everyone wants to be one, and nobody has to do much of anything to become one. Two year olds grace the cover of magazines, reality shows are given out like gift bags at Fashion Week, and now the spawn of celebrities may very well front the ads of International Fashion brand.
Needless to say, I’m torn. I suppose only time and the Fall 2008 front of book ads for Vogue will tell.