Charles Baudelaire, the 19th century French poet, wrote that “anybody, providing he knows how to be amusing, has the right to talk about himself.” If he were alive today he would be a blogger. Or so thinks Mabi, a character on the popular Brazilian soap opera TiTiTi. According to her, Baudlaire would be all about multimedia self-advertising, would likely be a model and “emo.” Mabi, played by teenaged actress Clara Tiezzi, should certainly know about such things. According to the show’s official website, she “maintains a polemic blog where she criticizes, with wit and class, everything and everyone in the fashion industry.” She dresses in a manner quite different to most young Brazilian women, combining large lens glasses, bow-ties worn over tee-shirts and bows or feathery fascinators placed atop her short blonde hair.
Does she remind anyone else of another teenage fashion blogger, famous for her distinctive style and witty bon mots? Her name is two letters off and her manner of dress, her age and her blogging about fashion all point directly to Tavi Gevinson. I knew that Tavi’s blog, The Style Rookie, was widely read in North America, but I had no idea she was so famous back home.
I should explain that soap operas are a big deal in Brazil. They air at prime time and entire families are transfixed by their dramas. My 95-year old Nana, who never learned to read or write, watches them daily and discusses them endlessly with her neighbours. Viewed by millions, Brazilian soaps both reflect what’s going on in the culture and influence it, starting trends in fashion and music and even affecting the way people speak, inserting slang into our beloved Portuguese. To a certain extent, they are pop culture.
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.
A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with WORN’s Editor-in-Pants, Serah-Marie (whose living room doubles as the WORN offices), that went something like this:*
Me: I am coming to Toronto for a week.
Her: Sounds good!
Me: I might need to crash on your couch while I’m in town.
Her: Can’t wait!
Me: I’ll also probably raid your fridge and watch all your Gilmore Girls DVDs.
Her: We’re ready for you!
Me: Also, my blogger friends Tavi and Isabel are in town, and I might bring them around for a tour.
Her: …Dang, now I’ll need to tidy the place up.
As general fans of anybody with intelligent things to say about fashion, it was a delight and a half to have these ladies come around. Being a typical work day, the office was filled with Wornettes.
Left to right: Deua, yours truly, Stephanie, Tavi, Isabel and Hillary
Our guests spend a minute or two examining our fashion library, followed by two hours (give or take) of ogling a Star Wars Pez collection.