Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tavi in Wonderland

Tavi sounds like any ordinary 15-year-old. She likes fashion, movies, guys "who look like they are dying", Twin Peaks, indie music and taking pictures. Except she is hardly your average Midwestern teen. No common girls get to write for Harper´s Bazaar, sit in front rows for fashion shows in Paris and New York, mingle with the hipsters and co-design fashion for Rodarte. Oh, and she has that mega-popular blog, Style Rookie, which in all its precociousness has earned her the title "fashion wunderkind". She began writing her clever insights on trends and clothes at the tender age of 11. Feeling slightly underachieving, are we readers?

In person she is shy, pint-sized, fragile and dressed in quirky outfits, which undoubtedly have been sent to her by some brand-name fashion house. Her parents rarely leave her side, which, considering the sometimes eccentric world of fashion, is probably a good thing. Her dad is managing her endeavors, which can be admittedly called a career by now. But she is growing. Her once trademark-glasses are replaced with contacts and the granny-meets-fairy godmother look is morphing into something more mature. She herself has expressed disinterest in continuing her road to fashion- although many anticipated her to take over Anna  Wintour´s empire one day at the antediluvian "Vogue". Fashion does not impress her anymore, per se. Instead, she has found the 1990s, alternative music, Twin Peaks, "Sassy"-magazine and a growing sense of feminism. When she announced in May 2010 to be devising a magazine with the legendary Jane Pratt (of now-defunct Jane and Sassy magazines), blogosphere got excited. Why would she work for Vogue, when she can do it herself -and probably in her own zesty, unique style.

The webzine was launched last week. So how is it? Overall it looks very clean and airy, sort of reflecting poetic and delicate mindset of its target reader. Rookiemag is geared towards the new American teengirl, although undoubtedly it will gain followers around the globe. Tavi, whether she likes it or not, is well-known by now, and her actions are observed.

Nostalgia over the 1990s youth culture and indie ethos can be sensed all throughout the blogsite, which hardly comes as surprise from the young editor, who has spoken widely of her admiration for the period. Before youth magazines became the commercial vessels they are today, there was "Sassy", which critiqued politicians and celebrities, tackled real teen issues without the photoshop and marketing gimmicks, and featured Kurt Cobain and John Waters on its pages. Can you imagine present-day "Seventeen" -magazine having an editorial on Nirvana or Bikini Kill? Tavi´s longing is understandable when set against today´s youth climate: instead of Riot Grrrl -movement there is endless consumerism and "Gossip Girl".  Whereas being a teenager was once ok, now it seems one must look, and act, like a fashionable adult at a very young age.

For reasons unknown, Jane Pratt is no longer involved with the Rookiemag. Undoubtedly Tavi and her aides had to work hard to remain independent from what is wrong with so many magazines and webzines of today: constant aim for more clicks and advertising/sponsorship deals. Of course there are ads involved with the new venture, as well, they are aiming for profits after all- but the idea seems to be to steer away from lukewarm content dictated solely by the wishes of the commercial forces. That is not the idea of this effort, after all.
The blog is updated three times daily, after school, dinnertime and before bed. This is a clever move, since it thus conveniently ties itself to the everyday rhythm of the American teen girl. From the first issue, I recommend "Characters to Channel for confidence", which can be a good reminder for us all ladies, not just teens. Oh, and her surname? Does it matter? It is Gevinson. Here is her parody on a bubblegum pop song. Love the black lipstick. Mine in her age was blue.


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