Something interesting I bumped into while Google-ing for something else:
The Beckhams' baby is born to be cool
With the name Harper Seven, the Beckhams' daughter has begun life with a sharp style statement – and she's already in line with the trend away from all things girly and pink.
Harper Seven is more than the name of the world's most famous newborn. It is a measure of how far the Beckham brand has come in the 12 years since they named their first son Brooklyn to a chorus of hilarity and barely concealed snobbery. When Brooklyn was born, the media reaction could be summed up as: how typical that such a ridiculous couple should pick such an eye-roller of a name.
With Harper, it couldn't be more different. The eye-rollers haven't got far this time, because the consensus seems to be that it is a really nice name. Subtle, with literary connotations rather than name-in-lights razzle-dazzle. What's more, this time the Beckhams have shown they are one step ahead of the pack. Ever since it was announced that their fourth child was to be a girl, gossip magazines and tabloids have been in such a frenzy of thrilled excitement, you'd think the other Beckham babies had been lizards rather than a trio of gorgeous, mop-haired boys. The common assumption was that the name would be a frothy celebration of femininity. Mea culpa: last week on the Guardian fashion desk we discussed our predictions. My colleague Imogen was backing Audrey; I thought it might be a Grace. Both a bit Hollywood, a bit European, very chic, very fashion.
The Beckhams were way ahead of us. They have resisted the syrupy appeal of the noughties crop of little-girl names – the formula seemed to be, take one Flower Fairy name and one Vegas showgirl stage name, and stick a hyphen in the middle – and chosen a girl's name that sounds a bit like a boy's name. What's more, they haven't paired it with a cutesy middle name to girlify it.
The rise of the statement-making middle name is proof of how much the naming process has become a family branding exercise. Once upon a time, the point of middle names was to keep family names in circulation, to placate grandparents who probably hated the first name you'd picked, and to provide a practical plan B in case of the first name going toxic by association with serial killers or similar. These days, such sensible considerations are forgotten. The middle name can add spice after a sensible first name, or leaven the mix after an outlandish first name (Rose as a middle name is a particular favourite for this). Or – as with Seven – it can be a sort of lucky charm, never intended to be used as an actual name.
Fashionable parenting has always been about showing yourself to be above the pack – whether by dressing your children in designer babygrows, or feeding them sushi instead of fishfingers. For most of the past decade the stylish thing was to demonstrate one's superiority to the garish, commercialised, precociously teenage mass-market childrenswear offering – leggings and ra-ra skirts for girls, slogan T-shirts for boys – by adhering to the Bonpoint aesthetic (if not the price tag). This meant dressing one's kids as if they were junior members of a minor European royal family, circa 1960: broderie anglaise dresses, blouses with Peter Pan collars, woollen kilts and cord pinafores.
The Bonpoint look still holds cachet – Kate Moss dressed her swarm of little bridesmaids in the label – but as it was adopted by the mass market, the cutting-edge moved on. I realised something was up last year when, at a Chanel haute couture show in Paris, I noticed a little girl of about five sitting at the feet of her front-row maman. There are not many children at fashion shows – especially not at couture – and those who are there have been washed and brushed and ribboned to within an inch of their lives. Not this one: she was wearing skinny jeans, scuffed shoes and a T-shirt, had a messy ponytail tied with a Hello Kitty bobble and was playing with a plastic dinosaur. Her mum is Emanuelle Alt, who is now the editor of French Vogue.
Angelina Jolie's five-year-old daughter Shiloh has short hair, and prefers boys' clothes. Jolie is adamant that this is her daughter's choice, but it does seem interesting that Jolie – probably the world's most visible celebrity mother – does not show any inclination to dress her little girl up, mini-me style.
You can't put newborns in proper clothes, because you really can't work a look before you have a neck. So a name is the first style statement a child has – and at that point it belongs to the parents. But it is the child who has to deal with the playground fallout. A name like Harper, which doesn't conform to playground norms, has its risks. My one-time fashion-desk comrade Hadley Freeman wasn't comfortable with her name as a teenager. "American teenage boys seemed to be particularly swayed by the femininity of a girl's name, judging by the amount of teasing I would get as a teenager. I hated my name being so unfeminine. But as a grownup I've come round to my name. I like that my name is mine and mine alone, or almost."
For Sam Baker, editor of Red magazine, an androgynous name was a liberation. She was born Samantha but "ditched the 'antha' around the time I started O-levels. I associate it in my mind with becoming more comfortable in my skin. It was more than just an abbreviation, it was an identity change. I never felt like a Samantha – a floaty, girly name – and being Sam made me feel more outwardly able to be 'me'. It was like there'd been a disconnect before."
"Harper is a great name," says Baker. "I'm jealous." "Weirdly," says Hadley, "I used to wish my name was Harper. To me, that name sounded utterly feminine because I associated it with Harper Lee. That, I thought, was a cool H name. Just goes to show, I guess, that one person's weird boyish name is another's feminine ideal."
Article Taken From: guardian.co.uk