Power Punk: Chelsea Clinton

First Daughter at McKinsey; Versace; straight hair; Chappaqua? Where’s that?

The lot of the modern Presidential offspring is a hard one. What with the constant media scrutiny and the oppressive parental shadow, it’s no surprise that the current crop is heavy on the shrill family feuding, boozing and Playboy pictorials. So it’s all the more impressive that 23-year-old Chelsea Clinton, now a resident of-where else?-Chelsea, appears to be not just a functional citizen but someone with a potential for accomplishment that equals both her super-achieving parents.’ But she has explored one area in which neither of them has succeeded: the private sector. At this very moment, odds are Ms. Clinton is toiling away in the East 52nd Street office of McKinsey and Co., where she has been working 80-hour weeks as a consultant since she moved to New York after finishing her master’s in international relations at Oxford (like her father, of course, who was there as a Rhodes scholar). While most entry-level consultants are encouraged to wait a few years to pick a focus-the firm consults on every topic from consumer goods to corporate finance-Ms. Clinton has reportedly already chosen her field. She has staked her claim on-mamma mia!-health care.

Refined and no-nonsense and straight-haired these days (thanks, reportedly, to Frédéric Fekkai), Chelsea’s taking home a $120,000 salary from the top-tier, London-based McKinsey and Co. And although with her health-care focus she may now appear to be headed down a path on which her mother famously blew a gasket in Washington in 1993, at the outset, the young Ms. Clinton appeared to be following more in her father’s footsteps. Her senior honors thesis at Stanford-a 167-page tome about the 1998 Northern Ireland peace agreement, complete with an interview with President Clinton-was a precursor to her graduate work in international relations. As her father’s official escort on Presidential trips to Africa and India and her mother’s confidante on the 2000 campaign trail, she got world-class training for advising others or, perhaps, for her own foray into political office.

But since her father left office and her mother settled into her own, the young Ms. Clinton has carved out a life that is looking increasingly like something of her own making. She spent the summer of 2002 in Geneva, interning at the World Health Organization, and accompanied her father to the World Economic Forum discussion on global health issues the following January.

In England, she shed her gawky, adolescent look, dolled herself up in designer styles and became something of a regular in the British tabloids: famously photographed at a Versace couture show in Paris, flanked by Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow, appearing at an Elton John fête, frolicking at Oscar de la Renta’s Dominican villa, Punto Cara. She embarked on a rather prosaic romance with a Rhodes Scholar and entertainment-equipment heir, Ian Klaus, who looks like a naughty cherub and (it has not gone unnoticed) bears some resemblance to her dad. Ms. Clinton and Mr. Klaus, 21 and 22, respectively, at the time, were the scandal of London for-congratulations!-drinking and dancing and smooching in public. Her schedule became so harried that she hired a personal assistant to arrange her appearances.

Since she arrived in New York last spring, the tabloids have been hot on her trail, but they haven’t had much to work with. There was one October Daily News report of a heated lover’s quarrel outside PM Lounge between Ms. Clinton and Mr. Klaus, but that’s about as racy as things get where the former First Daughter is concerned. The next week, she was spotted taking her grandmother out to lunch in Little Rock, with Mr. Klaus in tow. Ms. Clinton picked up the check.