Really, where *are* my priorities?
Since I’ve spent the week writing about celebrity baby names, it seems like the perfect year to reflect on my favorite high profile baby names.
Before we dive in, let’s address two inevitable questions:
First: why does it matter? Some of the birth announcements come from public figures who aren’t exactly household names. For every Halle Berry, there’s a Harold Perrineau. Sure, I’ve seen him on the screen tons of times. (And he was an amazing Mercutio!) But he isn’t someone I can place immediately.
Celebrity birth announcements interest me for the same reason I’m fascinated by the names of fictional characters and celebrities themselves. Anything that raises the profile of a name makes it more likely that parents will consider it for their own children. Not because we’re a bunch of mindless followers, but because we can’t consider a name unless we’re aware it exists as a possibility.
High profile parents choose names every bit as diverse as ordinary parents. For every headline declaring that Hollywood returns to the classics, or that wacky names rule the day, there’s not really a trendline.
Second, what criteria did I use to choose my thirteen best?
It’s more than a little bit random. Some strike me as likely to be influential. Others are just too stylish or downright interesting to ignore. If I’d been writing this back in 2004, Apple would absolutely have made the list. Because sometimes ‘best’ means best at sparking interesting blog chatter.
Without further ado, here are my picks for the Thirteen Best Celebrity Baby Names of 2013.
13. Scout Margery - She’s the third child and first daughter for Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh and her fellow volleyball player husband, Casey Jennings. Names from To Kill a Mockingbird are a big deal. Harper is in the girls’ Top 25 and rising, and Atticus is climbing fast for boys. Now Scout is getting some attention. That alone would be enough to put her on this list.
But my real motivation to make Scout #13? Can you think of any other sibling name that would bridge the buttoned-down Joseph Michael and the out-there Sundance Thomas as gracefully as Scout Margery? Me neither. Nicely done, Kerri and Casey.
12. Dashiell Max Robert - A second child and first son for model-turned-designer Georgina Chapman and her film producer husband Harvey Weinstein. I’m a fan of two middles, but sometimes they can sound excessive. Dashiell Max Robert has just the right amount of spark. He’s nicely matched with his sister’s name, India Pearl.
It’s the kind of choice I’d expect from the perpetually best-dressed Georgina. Neither name is ground-breaking – Cate Blanchett welcomed her Dashiell in 2001, and Sarah MacLachlan’s India arrived in 2002. But they’re stylish, rising choices – distinctive, without being eye-poppingly unusual. They’re also not at odds with the names Harvey and his former wife gave to their three daughters: Lily, Emma, and Ruth.
11. Thatcher Bray - When your first two children are known as Yates and Yardley, is there pressure to choose another Y name? There must be some, so I wondered what Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly and her husband, Douglas Brunt, would do. Yvette felt too frou-frou. Maybe York?
The family broke the pattern with Thatcher, and I think it is a great choice on its own merits. Celeb chef Cat Cora has a Thatcher, too. It’s a name perfectly on-trend with ends-with-r surname names for boys, but is so much less expected than Hunter or Carter. It might read as a nod to the Iron Lady, former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher (and given Kelly’s affiliation with Fox, that seems possible), but it also makes a great-sounding name for 2013 – preppy, but with a creative edge.
10. Theodore Ignatius – Who says classic has to be dull? Fitz and the Tantrums frontman Michael Fitzpatrick and his actress girlfriend Kaylee DeFer went with the enduring Theodore Ignatius for their firstborn. It’s a name that manages to be traditional and quirky at once. For an edgy couple, you might have guessed they’d go with Pilot or Axl, which makes their choice even more interesting.
It also reminds me that you cannot possibly guess the kind of names a parent will choose by looking at the parent.
9. Liv Elena - It’s a daughter for actress Alana de la Garza and her writer husband Michael Roberts. The couple also has a son called Kieran. Liv makes this list for her sheer on-trend style. With names like Mia and Ava, Luke and Jack so popular, short names are big. Add in Top Ten Olivia and rising star Olive and Liv is a no-brainer. Alana and Michael aren’t the first to use the name. Julianne Moore welcomed daughter Liv back in 2002.
Liv ranks #9 because she also points to parents’ willingness to put a short form on the birth certificate.
8. Carmen Gabriela - Carmen is a restrained, tailored name, chosen by Alec and Hilaria Baldwin for their new daughter. Alec is also dad to now-grown Ireland Eliesse with ex-wife Kim Basinger. Despite nearly two decades separation and different mothers, Alec’s daughters names have a lot in common. Their middle names are conventionally feminine, and their first names are surprising, frills-free choices. And yet, Carmen has a long and steady history of use, a name associated with the Virgin Mary and the tragic heroine from Bizet’s opera.
The newest Baldwin’s name is also notable for achieving what most parents claim to seek: an uncommon name that isn’t outlandish.
7. Holiday Grace - Actor Harold Perrineau, of Lost and The Matrix fame, has welcomed daughter #3 with wife Brittany. I’ve had my eye on Holiday for a while, but she makes the list for another reason: she and her two sisters share a trio of great names: Aurora Robinson, Wynter Aria, and now baby Holiday.
Aurora and Wynter were both on-trend, rising names when the Perrineaus chose them for their daughters. Could this signal that Holiday is next?
6. Margaret Laura “Mila” - New mom Jenna Bush Hager has a family name. She and her twin sister, Barbara, were named after their grandmothers. The newest member of the political dynasty continues the family tradition. Her middle honors Laura Bush, Jenna’s mom, while that first name comes from husband Henry’s side, and honors his mom. Combining the M and the La to get Mila is just plain brilliant.
Some might quibble that Margaret called Mila is a dodge – a weak and noncommittal way to honor a loved one. Nonsense. Re-inventing family names is nothing new. Gianni‘s grandson is John, and Bill‘s boy answers to Liam, even though they’re both William on their birth certificates. Jenna and Henry demonstrated that parents don’t have to choose between sticking with family names and finding something new to love. With a little bit of creative thinking, you can have both. With smaller families being the norm nowadays, there’s good reason to use up all of your honor names at once – a desire that has pushed more of us to consider approaches like the one chosen by the Hagers.
5. Valor - Emile Hirsch’s son with a former girlfriend has a lot to live up to. Yes, part of it is that bold virtue name. But when your dad is a successful, handsome actor, having a name like Valor might be the least of the pressure. After all, we don’t bat an eyelash at girls called Truly and Grace. And Valor is more subtle than naming a child Brave, or even Honor. It’s a word name, no mistake, but it isn’t in heavy rotation in our vocabularies, a quality that can help make an unusual noun name more wearable.
Plus, everything about Valor is on trend: his vibrant V, his ends-with-r sound, his rich meaning. It makes Valor a stand-out name that fits right in, and could inspire other parents to use the name. Best of all? He’s proof that boys’ names don’t have to be boring.
4. North – Yes, I hear you. North is not the best name in the most conventional sense. And yet, imagine that baby’s last name wasn’t West. Imagine Kimye had welcomed a son, not a daughter. I’ve long thought that North had the makings of a great, rugged virtue-nature name for a boy, and so I’m pleased to see it used.
The downside? I suspect that parents who might have shortlisted North a few months ago will now hesitate, and that’s too bad.
3. George Alexander Louis - Someday little George will be king, but for 2013, he’s in third place. Speculation about the heir’s name was a blast, but in the end, Will and Kate kept it traditional. We kind of knew they would. Some are claiming that the days of naming children after royals is over, but I’ve noticed more George-names than usual in this year’s birth announcements.
Now, what will Will’s cousin Zara name her baby-on-the-way? That’s one to watch for 2014.
2. Maceo Robert - Closely tied with Winnie is Halle Berry’s new son Maceo, her first with Olivier Martinez, a baby brother for Nahla. Like Valor, he’s an exciting, fresh choice for a son. Maceo is most likely a whispered-down-the-alley version of Matthew. With Matteo - one t or two – all the rage amongst fashionable parents these days, Maceo isn’t a stretch.
He’s also a hero name extraordinaire, borrowed from the Harlem Renaissance and a nineteenth century Cuban revolutionary. Toss in a few more creative Maceos, and this name feels just right for an Oscar-winning actress.
1. Winnie Rose - My top pick for 2013 makes the list for so many reasons! Winnie fits with retro nickname-names like Sadie and Hattie, and there are plenty of formal name options if that’s more your style.
The story is just downright delightful. Late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon proposed to his wife, film producer Nancy Juvonen, at a favorite vacation spot: New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee. This one just might make my favorites list no matter what the name was – I’m a sucker for a name with a great backstory, and being named after the place your parents got engaged is all kinds of fabulous.
Better still? While most parents hurry to insist a television character had no influence on their choice, Fallon agreed that Winnie Cooper was a worthy inspiration for a daughter.
What were your favorite celebrity baby names of the year? Would you rank Winnie #1, or do you think another name deserves the top spot?