Chances are, if you have even a passing interest in industry fashion, Tavi needs no introduction. Since starting her articulate fashion blog Style Rookie in April 2008, the now fourteen year old has become something of a celebrity both online and off. Case in point: when she wrote about her visit to the WORN Offices last month, I got no less than five e-mails from people I hadn’t spoken to in years saying some variation of “OH MY GOD CONGRATS FOR GETTING MENTIONED ON THE STYLE ROOKIE!” (for the record, friends of mine from middle school, we wrote about it here first).
Tavi was in town for Toronto’s Idea City, at which she spoke about the need for a Sassy-esque teen magazine for the new generation. We had a chance to talk to her about about the state of fashion today.
Is there a difference between fashion and style? If so, what is it?
There definitely is, but I’m not sure how to pinpoint it. I think style has a much clearer definition than fashion, which is such a broad term… I think the difference that is the most clear to me is that style gives more opportunities to be subversive while fashion usually entails rules. If you’re stylish, you’re creative and original, and if you’re fashionable, you know how to look attractive and uncontroversial.
When evaluating a fashion collection, do you think the aesthetics or the context of the clothes are more important?
I think about this a lot. I’m really not sure. I think it’s very difficult to project ideas through clothing, and I like that designers are creative with their sets and music and hair and makeup. It makes it more fun, plus fashion is very much about presentation. And, even if a designer chose not to use these elements at all, they would still be making a statement, I think? So I guess that when I look at a collection, I use the theatrical elements to help me interpret the designer’s message, but I interpret the strength of the actual collection by looking at how well the clothes can stand on their own without being dependent on the set and music and all that.
Has your opinion on any fashion labels changed after meeting the designers and learning more about the ideas that go into their lines?
Yes. Seeing Kate Mulleavy talk about her dresses (which I was seeing in real life for the first time, which is quite an experience) and about all the work and inspiration that goes into them put Rodarte even higher up on my favorite designers list.
I love Prada and Comme des Garcons forever, but learning that there was more of a team and less Miuccia Prada and Rei Kawakubo doing the designing was a bit disheartening. I suppose it was ignorant of me to imagine them sketching in a dark room with a single lightbulb alone at night, but still.
What level (if any) of responsibility and accountability do you think the fashion industry should have in presenting a diverse image of beauty? Do you think it’s important? Why? Where do you see opportunities for change (if you think change is needed)?
Oh man, hefty issue. It all goes back to the Charles Barkley quotation about being a role model… on one hand, I don’t think artistic vision should be compromised, but on the other, these images have influence whether those behind them want them to or not. Change is certainly needed but I’m not sure how to go about that. Something is definitely to be said for the way blogs and the Internet could help this movement.
What role do you think magazines have in fashion?
They have become more sacred now in the age of the Internet. Now you know that what you’re getting in the magazine you’re buying is really good, because it made print and didn’t go on their website. They’re part of the conversation in a way they weren’t before… I think magazines now play the role of inspiring as opposed to acting like guides, since it’s more convenient for everyone if trend reports and all that remain online. There is a need in magazines for timelessness, now that fashion moves even quicker than usual because of the Internet. The role they play is to give the readers the best of the best of the best; what is special enough to print. I think there’s also something to be said for the way print is becoming an increasingly more intimate thing… I know that my favorite magazines that I buy in print and cherish deserve tangibility either because they’re so beautiful and inspiring and high-quality or because I relate to them and that’s more special to hold in your hands. Olivier Zahm just complained about how bloggers don’t allow editors to have points of view, and this isn’t true — editors just need to strengthen theirs (I am certainly not saying all editors in general, I mean the ones who are getting nervous). When it comes to bloggers vs. editors, it’s the best content that will be the most successful. But really, I don’t think there needs to be any winners. Different people like different things and have different taste, and I think there can be something for everyone. Let’s all just coexist together. Man, I’m such a hippie!
interview by Anna Fitzpatrick
photography courtesy of thestylerookie.com