Thursday, January 28, 2010

Style Rookie No More

Can you imagine being thirteen years old and scoring a front-row seat at the Paris couture shows? And not because you have famous parents, or because you’re a tremendously rich trust-fund brat with an unpronounceable last name, but because you’re the precocious, whip-smart, fashion-obsessed suburbanite author of a style blog? Tavi Gevinson , a pint-sized self-proclaimed rookie, has transformed into the ne plus ultra of fashion insiders, with designers, photographers and journalists all clamouring to get a piece of her. The pictures of Tavi currently making the internet rounds — blocking a Grazia reporter’s view of the Dior runway with her whimsical Stephen Jones feather bow hat; rocking red lipstick and pouting at the paparazzi; posing like a pro at Chanel — sort of blow my mind. The girl is thirteen years old. Thirteen! When I was thirteen, I was reading Sassy and experimenting with pierced ears and coloured jeans, whereas Tavi is traipsing around Paris in Rodarte and Margiela, hobnobbing with the fashion elite. When Flare magazine editor-in-chief Lisa Tant tweeted about Tavi a few days ago, she caused a minor Twitter uproar:

Sobbing to think that a 13 year old gets a front row seat to cover couture. No justice in this world.

While I don’t necessarily begrudge Tavi her spot at couture week, Tant does bring up an interesting point. For every upstart blogger suddenly thrust into the spotlight and granted unprecedented access to runway shows, there’s a seasoned editor who gets unceremoniously bumped from her front-row seat despite years of experience and hard work. It’s frustrating to think that busting your butt at journalism school, interning for free at fashion magazines and paying your dues as a poorly paid, get-no-respect fashion assistant may never get you as far as the kid with a Macbook who decides to start a style blog one day between homework and bedtime. Good for Tavi for accomplishing everything she has, especially at such a young age and all on her own steam, but what about the people who pursue fashion doggedly for years, who study it and devote their careers to it and do their best to climb the fashion ladder rung by rung? Where are their front-row seats?

If there’s one thing we should all remember about this industry, it’s that fashion is fickle. It gobbles people up one day and then spits them out the next, so what will happen when Tavi is no longer the flavour of the month? Or when style bloggers in general start to lose their sheen? Tavi seems preternaturally poised, so hopefully she’ll be able to handle it gracefully when she makes the inevitable transition from fashion darling to fashion footnote. I’m not sure I would have been able to cope with such a thing at that age, but then again, I grew up in a pre-internet, pre-blog, pre-reality TV fame era. I was brought up to believe that people achieved success based on hard work and merit. Sounds quaint now, I know — but I’m holding out hope that someday soon the sands of public opinion will shift again and we can start rewarding people for talent and effort, not gimmicks. Because frankly, I’m far too old to work the precocious angle. 
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