I knew that Athena was part of the Stylelikeu tribe when her mom, Sonia, told me that her five-year-old would have to go home and change if her outfit wasn’t exactly right. So bent on personal expression, often Sonia has to sweat it out, because Athena insists on the white shirt with pink scalloping under her strict school uniform, instead of the plain one that is required. Hopefully no one from the school will read this, because so far she hasn’t been caught. Sonia has watched her daughter’s passion for the design of dressing over the years and it wasn’t easy at first to understand the intensity, but she can see her fervor reflects a talent in the making and has learned to cultivate it.
When I was interviewing her, Athena pulled a little from here and a little from there, and with deep concentration, laid out on the floor plaids over florals over crocheted zig-zags into a rich tapestry that is already her signature and clearly brilliant in composition and design. At 4, Athena won a public school art contest among 50 other kids up through high school, of a collage she had done of a puppet, Baba, that was a character from a book (there is a picture in her post). It is noticable the amount of care and attention to detail that she takes in dressing Baba, much like the attention she takes in putting her own outfits together. I kept thinking of the collage-type garments of the iconic designer Koos van den Akker, who is featured on this site and who’s studio walls are covered in Japanese street fashion. I could definitely see any of Athena’s medleys on a Tokyo teen or 20-something, and she would be the toast of the blogs. A possible craze in the making could be what Athena’s mom calls “Trashion” or the kindergartener’s use of things that have been thrown out for affect, like a french fry container as a hat or metallic wrapping paper as a skirt.
Uninhibited and unfiltered, pajama pants are under-skirts, polka dot flouncy skirts are layered over plaid school uniforms, and boas and ribbons pile on with multicolored bangles to glamourize a Ralph Lauren polo dress, although she can also be demure in black. Paraphrasing Athena’s very articulate use of words for her age, it’s all very “clever.”