The thing about Tavi Gevinson is: She's only 13 but she is already a famous and controversial fashion blogger. Last night, Tavi swooped into a Fashion Week party and we were able to talk to her for 1.5 minutes.
Tavi started her blog, Style Rookie, back in March of 2008. People took notice because, woah, here is a very young girl from Chicago blogging about something young girls normally don't blog about and doing it pretty well! There were many articles written about her. She became a muse for designers Rodarte ("Tavi Gevinson defines Rodarte for Target"), a columnist for Harpers Bazaar and a Pop Magazine cover girl. She annoyed fashion elite by wearing an enormous pink bow to a Dior show and was subjected to an inevitable backlash at the hands of industry heavies. People whispered that a "team" wrote her posts, that she was fashion's JT Leroy. Some people whispered this to New York magazine.
Now, Tavi is synonymous with "fashion blogger" and everything wonderful or terrible one might choose to see in the species. It's all about access: If you're bullish on bloggers, Tavi's weird dress and untrammeled prose prove that only the roaming satellite, the lone enthusiast, can rescue an industry whose identically uncomfortable shoes are always sitting atop egg shells for fear of getting cut off from the goods. But detractors argue that Tavi's own access derives from her uncritical fawning over certain designers. They see young fashion bloggers like Tavi and Bryanboy as basically copy writers who work for free samples, eagerly shilling the products fed to them by older, savvier industry folk. Are Tavi and her ilk tools of the establishment or true iconoclasts? Short-lived gimmicks or a revolutionary vanguard? All the anxieties of an access-obsessed industry are reflected, then magnified in Tavi's tiny, spectacularly swathed frame. After all, if Tavi is the next big thing, you better make nice ASAP.
Though this might be totally over-thinking it. To the crowd at China One in the East Village, where last night Brooklyn design duo I Love Factory held a Fashion Week party for a new line of fancy hats, Tavi was a real gut-level, "holy shit!" superstar. Tavi's entrance—mom and entourage in tow—was heralded by a tectonic shift as partygoers scrambled out of Tavi's way. Tavi passed through the parted crowd, back to where models showed off the hats. The two syllables of her name filled the room. A semi-circle of fans snapped pictures with their iPhones. The bolder ones approached her, then the party photographer Bronques waved them away so he could get a clear shot. Positively knee-high, with dyed gray hair and chunky, clear-framed glasses, Tavi looked like a fortune-teller with a malfunctioning pituitary gland. But in a good way! She looked over the product, spoke with some well-wishers then headed for the door.
Tavi had just been at the Alexander Wang show, where New York spotted her. She said she felt "kind of mixed" about it when I cornered her at the door; she would sort out her thoughts about the collection while writing her post. I asked what she thought was driving Tavimania and her answer can only be described as precocious: "A lot of people tell me I remind them of a younger version of themselves. Other people have their own reasons, I don't know." I asked her about the politics of fashion, which she's complained about on her blog. She said she takes fashion industry machinations with a grain of salt: "I wish the fashion industry could laugh at itself more." Also, haters, Tavi doesn't read your stuff. "I spend all day with myself—I don't need to read about myself too."
Then Bronques brought over party promoter Alexis Mincolla to have his picture taken with Tavi. Mincolla said he hadn't heard of Tavi before tonight, but Bronques had explained who she was and what she does; Mincolla was into it. Tavi gamely posed with him. Then, maybe seven minutes after she arrived, Tavi left.
Alexis Mincolla and Tavi. Photo by Lastnightsparty.com