Tavi: No Longer a Rookie



Tavi‘s team has called to say she’ll be late,” said the harried, headphoned organizer of the Alice & Olivia show. Tavi’s team, of course, is just her tired-looking father; “late” ended up meaning that Tavi arrived at the after her scheduled time of 6:30, but before the 8 PM doors opened. By Fashion Week standards–especially the ones applied to someone who spent hours autographing tote bags to a packed crowd days earlier at Barneys–it was early. When she did enter, the assembled photographers went mad.

For those who don’t keep a close eye on fashion media, Tavi is a Chicago-based author of the blog The Style Rookie. Over the last year or so, the website has earned her columns at Style.com and POP, invitations to Antwerp and Paris Couture Week, and a two-way collaboration with her friends, Rodarte’s Mullevey sisters, for Target. And, this fall, she is finally starting the ninth grade.

When I caught her ducking off of the red carpet and making a bee-line for the back, I apologized that we don’t have more time. She looked conspiratorial. “Do you want to sit down for a bit?” she asked, clearly exhausted. We headed to the back, where she happily flopped down on the couch and talked to me about the Mulleavys, her readiness for fall, and what it’s like being both a suburban (barely) teenager and a Fashion Week veteran.

LEILA BRILLSON: So, first off, what do the kids at school think? Do they like the way you dress?

TAVI GEVINSON: Well, I think they are more accepting of it now. A lot of them just respond to it because Teen Vogue has told them its cool and not because they actually think I’m cool, but that’s beginning to change.

BRILLSON:  How’s high school?

GEVINSON: Actually, I really like it. My school is really flexible with time off and everything as long as I’m a good student, and I like my teachers. It’s funny, I’ve been spending a lot of time at the hotel doing homework, so its like, going to shows, doing homework. I don’t think its an experience many other people have.

BRILLSON: Tavi, why do you think people have responded to your blog and the things you have to say the way that they have? In other words, why you?

GEVINSON: [Smiles] Well, what do you think?

BRILLSON: Well, I think that you have nothing to prove, really. You have an enthusiasm and passion for fashion, not commerce, not getting your picture on blogs, not getting scoops or making connections. There is something pure about your approach. Oh, and you are funny.

GEVINSON: One of the things that I’ve been thinking a lot about is that there are all these people sitting in the front row who are absolutely straight-faced and look totally unimpressed by this beautiful display they’ve just seen. And I’m like, “Are you kidding me? Did we just watch the same thing?” Then they go back and write about it so wonderfully, but in the moment, everyone is so concerned with looking jaded. My friend works at the Art Institute of Chicago and we were looking through old archives of fashion shows from the ’80s, and it was so different. People looked so excited and enthusiastic.

BRILLSON: Do you feel enthusiastic, or overwhelmed?

GEVINSON: Fashion week used to be new and exciting for me. Not to sound like I’m ungrateful, because I’m not, but now its really about a marathon of “Hi-how-are-yous.” I got to bring a friend with me a few days ago, and that was really fun because I had someone to chat with. But it’s not about fashion anymore for me, its about pictures and meeting all sorts of people and everybody kind of wanting something. Once again, not to sound ungrateful, but I wasn’t exactly wowed this season. It just seemed lacking. I went to Kate and Laura [Mulleavy’s] studio yesterday and I tried to avert my eyes, but all of the models were there and they were doing fittings, and I got a glimpse of what we saw today. I really wish I would had tried harder, because at least I would have experience that “wow” moment.

BRILLSON: This is your third New York Fashion Week, right? Consensus is that Spring/Summer isn’t as much fun as Fall/Winter.

GEVINSON: Yeah! That was why it was hard for me to really get into Marc last night. I am so ready for fall and it was so blatantly summer. I think that’s part of the problem with the way the cycle works. You want to wear coats, and you get so cold watching a girl in a bikini top, wearing bright colors and mini-shorts. I mean, um…I don’t mean to seem harsh on it now. I’m sorry if I’m unclear, but it’s why I’m so much better in writing. It takes me a while to put together my thoughts on a collection. I have to sit down with it, lay out pictures, and think about what really stuck with me.

BRILLSON: Well, that, I think, is the power of the Internet. There is still this assumption that paper and ink are the apex of fashion, but being online allows you to draw so many more connections, by Googling or linking. What do you think of people who say, “Oh, you are just a little blogger”?

GEVINSON: When people first said, “Oh, it’s clearly not her writing these reviews,” I really wanted to be like, “Guys. It’s called the Internet. It’s all there. We all have access to it.” And that’s true for almost everyone. Sure, there are the Cathy Horyns of the world, who have this great grasp of history, but the Internet is so accessible. I mean, I’m still having a hard time believing that someone would buy something they see on my blog, but the fact I can put it out there is amazing. The Internet is now officially threaded into the way society works, and is not just important because it’s a lot of people.

BRILLSON: I know you just started high school, so don’t let this stress you out, but do you have any idea what you want to do? Design? Be a critic?

GEVINSON: Oh dear. I know what I don’t want to do. You know how they say you might not know what you like, but you know what you hate? I don’t want to design, I know that. I don’t really know what I want to do, but I’m pretty sure I know what I don’t want to do.

BRILLSON: Well, whatever it is, Tavi, stay enthusiastic.

GEVINSON: I will. When it comes down to it, it’s the clothes I love, and the things that you can create with them.