Fashion gives one the ability to feel like someone else or to internalize all the things one really loves so that they can feel exactly themselves, Tavi says. Unfortunately, to be so unapologetically original and unconcerned with being beautiful, in the hyper-sexualized world of junior high school, is typically met with fearful disdain by one’s peers. This marginalization was at least the case for Tavi, at age 13, when she first found her voice and a large following of those also disenfranchised by conformity, looking to Tavi for her bold freedom and self expression on her blog, Stylerookie. While being taunted for wearing a curtain to school, Tavi found dressing to be magical, as she layered patterns and bows, with an acute sense of color, texture, and a passion for the sophisticated, artful designs of Rei Kawakubo. But after having the guts, imagination and intelligence to rise above the riff raff of mediocrity on the internet, Tavi faced a similar magnitude of exclusion by fashion’s reigning Queen Bee, Anna Wintour, when she earned the invitation to sit front row at fashion week. Dissappointed by the pretension that burst her fashion fantasy bubble, but not disheartened, Tavi now looks to mentors like performance artist Miranda July, who are interested in listening to and learning from every individual and who do not write anyone off based on superficial judgements.
Today, Tavi is 15 years old, and is as disinterested as ever in competing with fashion’s “popular kids.” Instead, she has found her own ranks as the editor and founder of Rookie Magazine, a media platform for teenage girls. While the lingering model of fashion magazines emphasizes chic as “sexy,” as in Disney’s manufacturing of pop stars like Miley Cyrus, Tavi is all about enlightening her viewers to those like comedian and author, David Sedaris, who admires Japanese designers for removing sex from clothing. While “oddball” is in and everyone is now dressing in cute, granny, vintage dresses, Tavi is not afraid to admit that she wants to be pretty at this age, but does so in the most original and unconventional sense. Her LA “tacky outfit,” as she calls it, reminds her of the psychics and pastels in the City of Angels, and is comprised of an off white cotton skirt from her childhood dress-up box, a vintage bright colored 60′s printed top, gold D & G platforms, and a crown that is made out of little houses that she got from a joke store. Tavi’s notoriety for pushing the boundaries, no matter the norm, has made her “that girl” to many, but she is all too knowing and grounded to think that “that girl” really exists. Whoever your “that girl” is for you, “she” has another girl that she looks up to too, Tavi points out.
Passionate about connecting to the world through her possessions, Tavi says that for everything that she wears, there are a million different associations and cultural influences. Her “perfect” black, Wednesday Addams vintage dress is worn with cobweb wool tights by her favorite designer, Rodarte, and a headband of pink flowers that makes Tavi think of Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Her most coveted witch-hearted Meadham Kerchhoff sweater is taken from her favorite Hole album art and is worn with a thrifted cheerleading skirt that reminds her of the 50′s references in John Waters’ movies and is accentuated by her black lipstick, which Tavi wears to explore a different side of her attractiveness. Tavi’s acute perceptions can be seen in how she aesthetically catalogues her things, including everything in her packed-full room, which alludes to ideas like the creepiness of Disney, the fantasy of Lux Lisbon in The Virgin Suicides, and her nostalgia for when fashion was still magical to her, as represented in the Lula magazines on her shelves.
Seeing the world through Tavi’s unusually attuned vision is refreshing and illuminating, whether she is pointing out her shock after confronting the sullen faces in the front row at NYFW or her honesty about sitting at home on a friday night eating a box of Triscuits and watching a movie. The way in which Tavi has organized her vision of the world through her blog, outfits, enviornment and diaries might best be presented as a movie, she claims. Stay tuned, today’s black sheep of the fashion establishment will be the next generation’s Woody Allen. Power to the people (and the internet).