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They are rich, beautiful and may seem a tad familiar. Richard Woods reports on how so many children of the 'celebocracy' are moving into modelling

By unknown | Jan 10, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Remember this when you're feeling envious of rich kids and children of the famous - for them life is not a cakewalk. It's often a catwalk.

Remember this when you're feeling envious of rich kids and children of the famous - for them life is not a cakewalk. It's often a catwalk.

So many children of the celebocracy are now being primped and preened for modelling shoots that they are being dubbed the "Heirdos".

Last week Burberry unveiled its latest advertising campaign with a series of shots starring Kate Moss. As usual she seduces the camera with irresistible allure - but what caught the eye of fashionistas was the lineup of faces alongside her. In one shot there are Bryan Ferry's sons Otis and Isaac, and Richard Branson's son Sam.

In another shot for Burberry's women's range, Moss is pictured with Theodora Richards, who is the daughter of Rolling Stone Keith, Alexandra Richards, who is also one of Keith's daughters, and Branson again.

Handsome and pretty they all are. They have fine heads of hair and underneath, industry insiders say, brains coiffured by expensive education.

What the entire world is wondering now is how David Banda, Madonna's adopted Malawian child, would handle the pressure as the son of the queen of kitsch when he grows up. Would the face be so interesting without the name?

The industry is divided. On one side are the losers, who tend to be beautiful but relatively anonymous.

On the other side are fashion gurus who still perceive the styling more than the house of origin.

"I don't care about celebrity models," said Andy Capper, editor of Vice, an independently minded fashion magazine.

"In fact, I'm all for it, if it means some slightly more normal body shapes are represented. Ideally they should use fat celebrity kids."

Among the present crop of Heirdos are Kimberley Stewart, daughter of Rod; Fenton Bailey, son of David; Leah Wood, daughter of Ronnie; India Waters, daughter of guitarist Roger; and Alexandra Aitken, daughter of disgraced former Tory cabinet minister Jonathan.

You might not be intimately aware of their precocious talents, but to the brandmeisters of fashion, that is no serious drawback. These kids are designer label, they have history. Some say they even have breeding.

"We've gone from having an insatiable and indiscriminate appetite for celebrity to being quite snobbish about pedigree," says Dan Halliday, creative director of TheFishCanSing, a London marketing consultancy.

"So what if a Heirdo's career doesn't take off? He or she is still so-and-so's son or daughter. This is what makes them a safer bet for brands."

The Ferry name oozes style, while Branson encapsulates open-necked billionairedom. As a way of communicating Burberry's aspirations, that's hard to beat when allied to the iconic looks of Moss.

Quite apart from the crooner-cool of his dad, Otis Ferry is establishing his own reputation that fits the brand. He's shown himself to be both a traditionalist as a fox hunter and a rebel as a protester who stormed parliament.

"The use of celebrities generally happens with a lot of older and more established brands," says Paula Karaiskos of Storm Models.

"They tend to want the heritage that comes with it, the whole package.

"And if you book someone who has a famous parent, you get all the free publicity that goes with it.

"Sam Branson is amazing. He's very handsome and intelligent and has an interesting future in many directions. I think his dad is giving him quite a long leash to figure out where he wants to go."

No dumb blond, young Branson showed his self-awareness in a recent interview when describing why he liked the laidback life of the Caribbean, where his father owns Necker Island.

"It's the mentality: you've only got one life, so why rush through it. I love the positive attitude and that it is unmaterialistic," he said. "Of course, this mentality is easier to acquire if you do not have to worry about money."

Ah yes, the money. What are these children of the super-rich really worth as clothes hangers? According to Kirsty Reilly of the ICM agency, they can command high rates, perhaps even R350000 for a day's work.

But another industry insider revealed that a famous name can sometimes be a lot cheaper than a top professional model.

"There was one instance where a big Italian fashion house had one of our very famous models on option for a campaign. One of the world's top actresses was second in line for the job. They went with the actress and she cost a 10th of what we quoted for the model. The actress wanted the publicity because she had a new film coming out."

Others are even blunter about the Heirdos.

"The reason the industry uses the children of celebrities is that it gives us PR currency," says Rana Reeves, creative director of Shine Communications.

The Jaggers are a prime example.

"They aren't really a 'look' themselves; these are just the children of a 'look'," says the fashionista insider.

"The son of David Bailey? He's a bit podgy. He wouldn't be hired naturally.

"There's a whole generation of them coming up and they are mostly talentless.

"As far as I know, creativity isn't by bloodline." - Sunday Times, London


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