In just 12 weeks, this 12-year-old has become the biggest child star on the planet — and the world’s fashion elite are queuing up to dress her
Yet to binge on the sci-fi series Stranger Things? You must have been living under a rock. The most popular original Netflix series ever — bigger than Orange Is the New Black and, yes, even House of Cards — since its debut 12 weeks ago, it stars Hollywood’s newest “most wanted”. And I don’t mean the marvellous Winona Ryder. She’s called Millie Bobby Brown and she’s just 12 years old.
Born in Malaga to British parents, Brown has enjoyed a staggering ascent. In one short summer, her role as the mysterious Eleven has catapulted her from an unknown, with a clutch of bit parts to her name (including Grey’s Anatomy and Modern Family), to a global phenomenon, acquiring 1.3m Instagram followers in less than four months. Not since Drew Barrymore in ET has a child actress shot to stardom so quickly.
Despite her age, the fashion industry has been quick to take an interest. A beaming Brown sat front row at the Coach show in New York last month, sandwiched between Emma Roberts and Ryder. She and Ryder are so close that she is often seen wearing a ring that Ryder gave her: an Irish wedding band, signifying loyalty, love and friendship. Nicolas Ghesquière, the creative director of Louis Vuitton, recently posted a selfie with Brown and her Stranger Things co-stars captioned: “Such a fun day and exciting project coming up thanks to all of you guys.” And the designer JW Anderson debuted an Eleven-inspired look at his SS17 show in London when he sent a skinhead German model, Lina Hoss, down the catwalk in a smock.
“Every brand, bar none, reacted with an almost disarming level of excitement about the possibility of lending clothes to Millie,” reveals James Wright, creative director of the arts and culture magazine So It Goes — the first to publish a cover interview with Brown when it lands this Thursday. Wright sees this as “an early signpost of how much designers are drawn to Millie”. And, in turn, she is drawn to them. “She told me Burberry and Valentino are her favourite brands,” he laughs. Brown has been seen in everything from Shrimps to Topshop, and recently Instagrammed a picture of her new loafers: “My first pair of Jimmy Choos! #Awesome.”
Eleven’s costume is also proving popular as Halloween wear. The fashion ecommerce platform Lyst revealed that a “pink Peter Pan collar dress” was viewed once every three minutes on the site in the last week of September, with 80% of those who looked for the dress also searching for “tube socks”. Meanwhile, an Asos navy bomber, not dissimilar to Eleven’s, has become the website’s most-wanted item.
Carmen Cuba, the casting director on Stranger Things, says: “Millie’s ability to access emotion, coupled with her size — she’s so little! — were things no other person auditioning for that role possessed. We immediately sensed her potential for star power.” Thank goodness — Brown recently revealed that her family sold everything to move to Hollywood so she could get her lucky break. Ironically, she secured Stranger Things when, broke, they came back to the UK to live with her aunt. They remain a critical part of the MBB (as she has become known) machine and will, we hope, protect her from the fates that have befallen other child stars. Brown’s mother dresses her, keeping her “age appropriate”; her father accompanies her on every trip; her brother runs her Twitter account, and her sister, her Instagram.
So, what next? Stranger Things has been confirmed for a second series — but perhaps more thrilling is that she’s off to the White House to meet the president. “So excited to go!” she said on Instagram. From unknown to hanging with Obama in less than three months? Not bad going, MBB.
Three months from zero to hero by Marie-Claire Chappet
July 15 Stranger Things premieres on Netflix. The world goes mad for demogorgons, 1980s nostalgia and supercool new buzzcut kid on the block Millie Bobby Brown
August 21 She posts video on Instagram of her having her head shaved (above) for Stranger Things. It goes viral
August 29 Gets mobbed by fans in Manila, Philippines
August 31 Posts a teaser video of #season2 with co-star Noah Schnapp (Will Byers), but coyly avoids confirming that she will be back. It accrues 1m views
September 1 Appears on Jimmy Fallon (above) with her co-stars and raps Nicki Minaj’s Monster verse
September 10 Goes to Universal Studios with fellow child star and dancer Maddie Ziegler. The worlds of tween superstars collide
September 13 Sits front row at the Coach show in New York, between Emma Roberts and Winona Ryder (above)
September 14 Interviewed on Stephen Colbert wearing Burberry. She confesses her fear of bungalows — bungalows?
September 18 Wears Red Valentino on the red carpet at the Emmys (above). Performs Uptown Funk with her Stranger Things co-stars live on stage
September 22 Has her first ever UK television appearance. On Lorraine
September 23 What’s this? A casual selfie with Nicolas Ghesquière of Louis Vuitton (above)?