AT FIRST THE LEGGY NYMPHET showing off the microminis in April’s Elle looks like just another corn-fed innocent with dreams of limos and lunches at high-priced society hangouts like Le Cirque. But wait: Aren’t those Donald Trump’s plumpish cheeks? Isn’t that Ivana’s long-limbed swagger? And doesn’t this child look curiously comfortable against the backdrop of Concha Marina, Ivana’s posh residence in Palm Beach?
Well, yes. Ivanka Marie Trump, 14, is one modeling tyro who won’t have to wait for fame and riches. Although her résumé is modest—catwalk duty in March for designers Ev & El and Enrico Coveri, an appearance at last December’s VH1 Fashion and Music Awards, a charity show for Versace, plus two Elle spreads—Ivanka already is used to the sort of perks familiar to, say, Tori Spelling.
Since the Trumps’ 1991 divorce, Ivanka and brothers Eric, 12, a private-school student, and Donny, 18, who enters the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, have commuted between Concha Marina; Ivana’s Manhattan town house; Donald’s Trump Tower triplex; Ivana’s mansion in Greenwich, Conn.; and Donald’s Bedford, N.Y., house and Palm Beach country club. Ivanka spends vacations from the Chapin School, the prep school where she is finishing eighth grade, in Gstaad or the Bahamas. And, of course, there are father-daughter outings to Le Cirque. Her favorite dessert: chocolate soufflé.
Surely, then, some sacrifice will be required if modeling is to become more than a fling. But for now, the 5’9″ Ivanka is too dazzled by fashion to fret. She has always been excited, she says, by photo layouts of supermodels in magazines like Vogue: “I’d be like, ‘That’s Cindy, that’s Claudia,’ and I guess I always wanted people to say that about me,” she confesses. Although the Fashion and Music Awards show (her first) was “very nerve-racking,” she says, she forgot her fear as soon as she hit the runway in a leather Thierry Mugler bodysuit. “It was fabulous,” she says.
The worldly Trumps (Donald, 49, oversees a multizillion real estate empire; Ivana, 47, markets a thriving jewelry and clothing line) have encouraged Ivanka’s interest in fashion. When she told them at 13 that she “really wanted to be a model,” she says, they “supported me completely.” Says Donald: “To a certain extent I thought it was inevitable. When she walks into a room, everybody turns around.” Adds Ivana: “I’ve always kept her au courant…[and] it’s important that she knows how to be poised.”
Still, there are limits—no modeling on weekdays or without a chaperone. And while Ivana admits, “I want to have a girl who is intelligent, but I don’t have to have a rocket scientist,” she says college is a must.
In the meantime modeling mavens, including Joel Wilkenfeld, president of NEXT Model Management, assert that Ivanka “has what it takes. She has all the features, and she has the [spirit] to be a very good model.” Others aren’t so sure. “I don’t think Ivanka would have started a career based solely on her looks,” says Natasha Esch, president of Wilhelmina Models. “People are turned on by her name.”
Other fashion insiders, such as Nikki Suero-O’Brien, model editor at Mademoiselle, believe it’s too early to tell. “I think Ivanka is adorable,” she says. “But she’s a little young for us. We’ll wait for her to get an older look.”
Maturity, it seems, has never been a problem for Ivanka. Sweet, funny and “extremely loyal,” according to friends like Julia Nasser, 14, a fellow member of the Funny Pink Bunnies Club, a close-knit clique at Chapin, she never faltered publicly during the Trumps’ divorce. As Ivana reported in her 1995 memoir, The Best Is Yet to Come, “she kept her head high.”
“My parents are both really down-to-earth—they made it clear that they would be there no matter what,” Ivanka says now. Despite Donald’s wedding to Marla Maples in 1993 and Ivana’s 1995 marriage to Riccardo Mazzucchelli, Ivanka is still close to both parents, cordial to both stepparents and welcomed half sister Tiffany in 1993. “She can look up to me for trends and hand-me-downs,” she says. Reports family friend Vivian Serota: “Ivanka and Ivana are girlfriends. And Ivanka adores Donald. He’s very attentive.”
When she isn’t modeling, Ivanka spends time as her schoolmates do—waking up at “a horrible hour, 7 o’clock,” she says, jumping into her uniform (pleated skirt, white shirt) and cabbing to Chapin. Back at 5, she does homework in her bedroom (with its canopied bed adorned with a pillow that says, “When a Woman Is Tired of the Plaza, She Is Tired of Life”), phones friends and watches Beverly Hills, 90210. She snaps up CDs by Phish and pigs out with pals at McDonald’s. “I’m a big eater,” she says. “After all, I am 14.”
For all of that, Ivanka isn’t precisely like her peers—privileged though they may be. Who else, for example, would face a rite of passage like the one she experienced last December, when her father handed her his credit card and sent her off in a limo to buy Christmas gifts for the family? Serota reports that Donald and Ivana’s daughter “was really thrilled—she was bubbling. It was a kick to see someone so excited.” And, it seems, so eager to pitch herself into adulthood—that strange land where fabulous creatures like Cindy and Claudia have lived forever.
ANNE LONGLEY and JENNIFER FREY in New York City