Tavi Gevinson, the 13-year-old fashion blogger/cultural phenomenon, has racked up an impressive list of accomplishments, despite being too young to drive or vote. She's covered various magazines, perched in front-row New York Fashion Week seats, earned the affection of Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy, and been named the guest of honour at Rei Kawakubo's holiday soiree. Now, the bookish teenager has penned a column for the January issue of Harper's Bazaar, which has earned her both praise for her unusually astute writing style and contempt for, well, being a youngster in a position of power.
First, a sample of Tavi's column, a wrap-up of the spring collections. She writes: "The idea of looking 'effortless' is always in style, but designers re-invent the idea each season. So now they're having fun mixing prints, textures, and accessories (at Louis Vuitton especially), going all out and not thinking twice about it. The breezy coolness simply comes with having the confidence to slip into a shirt-and-skirt combo with naked ladies printed all over it (see Miu Miu) or a dress with holes carved out (Viktor & Rolf's literal take on 'cutting back')."
Kristina O'Neill, Harper's Bazaar executive editor, told WWD she knew Tavi had made positive posts about the magazine's September issue, so she e-mailed the blogger to see if she would be interested in working together. It should come as no surprise that Tavi is the mag's youngest contributor to date.
But naturally, in an industry as competitive as fashion - or, well, any industry that lets a 13-year-old call some of the shots - the critics are bound to come out. Lesley M. M. Blume, the contributing style editor for the Huffington Post who, ironically, writes children's books for girls Tavi's age, points out that the story will be a good publicity stunt, much like Bazaar's December 'Twilight' cover story. Says Blume: "I think she’s very dear, but I think it’s crazy. I think it was insulting enough when we were expected as adult women to take our fashion cues from Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. All of a sudden women in the fashion world were starting to look like bag ladies. I mean, that’s very silly." Ouch.
But Blume wasn't done: "Are the creative directors of Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman going to tailor their purchases according to [her tastes]? Probably not. But is Harper’s Bazaar going to sell a bunch of issues because of the novelty? Yes. Will she end up on morning shows? Yes she will...I don’t think she’s a fashion sage, I think she’s a novelty and I think she’s going to be used as a marketing device as a novelty."
Anne Slowey of Elle believes the Tavi project "feels a bit gimmicky", and she has less than favourable comments about the blogger's recent Rodarte for Target video. "You look at her video, and the writing doesn’t sync up with the way she talks about fashion," says Slowey. "When I watched that video it smacked of this ethereal vagueness - this vacantlike quality where it was like everyone was on Vicodin. Like everyone was uncomfortably dumb except for me." That said, Slowey points out that she's fascinated by "anyone who's willing to, like, rock personal style".
Blume and Slowey both pointed out that so much attention, come upon so quickly, could have negative effects on someone so young. "She will be a story for awhile and it will either die out, and she’ll fade away, or she’ll become a fashion editor," said Blume. "She might not be so sweet and precocious in a few years after being inundated with this kind of press. Worst-case scenario she ends up overwhelmed and messed up, but no one can predict that."
Tell us: Are you on Team Tavi?