Frances Bean Cobain popped back up into the public’s consciousness after a series of gorgeous and very tasteful photos of her were snapped by photographer and former Dior Homme designer Hedi Slimane. The portraits are haunting, and although the images evoke her parents’ highly publicized relationship of drugs and rock and roll, the soon to be 19-year-old appears to be straying far from the life they lead.
One of the reasons these photos have garnered such attention, aside from their quality, is that this is the most we have seen of Ms. Cobain since she was a little girl. Photographed at the MTV Music Video Awards in 1992, and occasionally photographed at her mother’s side at events, Frances Bean has only two other professional photoshoots to date — and as a child of a rock legend — that’s worth noting. Her 2008 photoshoot for Harper Bizarre was also arresting, but much more calculated as she posed clearly at the request of somebody — depicted as more artificially wholesome than anything else. The photographs, although intriguing, didn’t seem to tell us anything about the young girl of whom so many were curious. She stared back at the camera under who knows how many layers of airbrushing and make-up, more or less as a receptacle for whatever the viewer wanted her to be. She appeared as we wanted her to look — like somebody’s daughter.
But these Slimane photographs assert the young lady in a way that demands a viewership, not asks them nicely to take notice. And when considering how little Frances Bean throws around her own name — both in the press and in her artistic endeavors — the images stand a part. Whatever turmoil or troubles or potential drug-induced parties the teenager might be having, we certainly have been reading about them. In comparison to her parents, particularly the infamous Courtney Love, Frances seems to shun the spotlight. Frances has only done five interviews in her young life.
Meanwhile, she has interned at Rollingstone and has sung back up vocals on a single song for a musical group entitled Evelyn Evelyn. She also displayed a showing of her artwork last summer in Los Angeles but under a pseudonym. The New York Times reports that when her name actually leaked in connection with the showing, she was not pleased:
Matt Kennedy, the gallery’s director, noted that her collection received favorable reviews and was mostly sold before anyone knew the artist’s identity. Since then, its value has skyrocketed. He said Ms. Cobain was legitimately “surprised and unhappy” when her identity was leaked. “She’s a bit mature beyond her years,” he added.
Frances Bean even turned down the opportunity to speak to the Times regarding their profile of her. A representative for photographer Slimane said that the photographs, although commissioned by Frances, will not be published in print.
Silently, Frances Bean has so far distinguished herself from the many other daughters and sons of the famous — choosing her privacy over the exploitation of her name. By keeping her identity to herself and her name always out of the public’s grasp, she has distanced herself more from her legendary parents than is most often deemed possible for modern children born into fame. She stares back at us in these images as not only a beautiful subject, but also a young woman who — despite her parents celebrity — we hardly know.