Oh! You pretty things

By Allison MacKenzie

Tavi Gevinson has just turned 14 years old. She’s getting old. Congratulations, Tavi. The most precocious blogger (and rapper) in the world will be remembered as the pioneering star at the genesis of a global and irreversible phenomenon - fashion blogs - that forced the female orientated press to rethink a lot of issues, despite of its consolidated status. All of them ended up capitulating to the crude reality, the end of unilateral dictation in fashion. The end of the luxury brands monologue wrapped in satin paper. Tavi’s birthday, by the way, was shadowed by the polemic upload of a nude picture of the model Maggie Rizer to her blog. The photo belongs to Yohji Yamamoto’s 1998 spring-summer collection. Blogspot censored the blog and the picture was deleted. So we take this opportunity to congratulate Google for their continuous efforts on the crusade towards freedom of expression.

Critics against Tavi always seem a bit unfair, misdirected at least, and geared in the wrong direction. One can worry, naturally, about the mental health and media overexposure of a 14-year-old girl who is being followed by 4 million people, especially taking into account the thousands of daily comments that she is object of and the amplified repercussion received by her written opinions. Let’s not forget, at her return from school. (At her desk, I suppose, with a vacant look, obsessed with Consuelo Castiglioni while the maths teacher tries to explain to her the logic of the equation). In the end, Tavi is just another celebrity, regardless. It remains to be seen whether the commotion is caused by her opinions on fashion and style, or curiosity (and gossip) that everything tween generates.

In spite of the pressure, some of her posts are still delicious. Not that long ago she blogged in a surreal act of false nostalgia about the defunct magazine “Sassy”. According to our calculations, Tavi was born the year the magazine closed, but this discrepancy is part of the attraction to “The Style Rookie”, so to dispose to temporal paradoxes. To the point: “Sassy” was to many Australian and American teenagers what “ Super Pop” or “Ragazza” was to Spanish adolescents, only with a little bit more of panache. Covers featured handsome actors (Johnny Deep), not as hot but friendly actresses (Mayim Bialik, from “Blossom”), rebellious charming duos (Kurt and Courtney) and staples of the mag dedicated to sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. Pure sentimental education.

The magazine discovered one Chloë Sevigny, who was there as an intern, and in 1992 there was even a male spin-off magazine, “Dirt: Son Of Sassy”, managed by the triumvirate of Andy Jenkins, Mark Lewman and Spike Jonze. Though the real jewel of the “Sassy” crown, I learned from Tavi, was the glorious part of the magazine dedicated to advise the lovelorn. Yes, a space to confess your insecurities and share your fears, fronted by two characters of an undoubtedly moral fibre, to adolescents that is, who themselves seemed a bit lost and running empty on self-believe: Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth, and Mike D of the Beastie Boys. Honestly, has anyone ever come up with better spiritual guidance counsellors for such an age range? Here's an excerpt from “ Dear Thurston”. Dear Thurston,

There's this guy that I really like. He tells everyone that he doesn't even like me as a friend, but when we're alone together we do things that are reserved for people who think of each other as more than friends. What do I do?

A friend, more, or less? Huntley, IL

Here’s Moore advice (better visualised, nostalgic as we are, blasting “Kool Thing” in the background):

The guy's a jerk. I know that won't discourage you from liking him, but he's got a major personality flaw: disrespecting you. Be careful of this kind of butthead, because his sleaze behavior may rub off on you, and then your life will become more and more hellish. Next time you're alone with him and he tries to get "friendly," tell him your friend Thurston Moore wants to kick his ass. And then tell him why.

Cool, huh?

By the way, Tavi is one of thousands of girls that has succumbed to one of the most obvious and teen screaming trends of the day: cats. Indeed. We can blame Miuccia Prada for it. The prints and gigantic brooches of her latest Miu Miu collection have produced a wave of adoration without a precedent for everything cat-related, and its imitators are already amongst us. Fashion label United Bamboo have produced a catalogue featuring the whimsical creatures dressed up with the season collection, reduced to a feline scale for the occasion. Furthermore, on the “Miss At La Playa” blog you can find a handy tutorial to reproduce the Miu Miu brooch at home with cardboard, scissors and a some skill. Bona fide DIY.

More .... : “The Catorialist” has been running since 2008, but now it's being quoted. Maxwell Krivitzky’s blog is identical in shape, approach and tone to “The Sartorialist”. Instead of images of slender cats tough there are fashion victims ones. The same ones that would sell their “momma” to be featured at Scott Schuman’s blog. Those among you familiar with Schuman’s prose, however exclusive, will rejoice in perusing Kitty Uomo’s portraits and Krivitzy’s comments about style (that collar, that bell or any other hidden subtext in the accessories). And “The Catorialist” is not the only homage to “The Sartorialist”. The holy and untouchable blog about street style with a strong 250,000 daily visits has recently been the butt of the refined joke by Refinery 29, where Christene Barberich, Piera Gelardi and Joshua Covarrubias makes Schuman‘s obsession with public school uniforms, old rich European men and vintage bicycles patently clear. Everybody has a standard.

Schuman, by the way, brags in his blog to be “ one of the 100 most influential people in the fashion world according to Time magazine". The achievement would be probably repeated this year, had Marc Jacobs not surprisingly gatecrashes the recent published first list of 2010. Though after abandoning the blue hair dye, drugs and the kilt featuring at the end of his catwalk shows, he's since lost some of the previous media coverage. He’s not the only designer on the most influential 100 people roll, and of course it's a ranking we could object to as with any other list. Nothing to object to Lady Ga Ga ruling the top one, indisputable. Nor that after the embarrassing and polemic schedule change of the “Tonight Show”, Conan O’Brien is the next in line for the top position (put that on your pipe and smoke it, Jay Leno). But, really, is Elton John a bigger influence than Ricky Gervais? Oh, cammon’. There's Ben Stiller too. We all love him, but to the point of considering him a hero? Dear me. Lists. Let’s wrap it up, then. Here are some brief recommendations in telegram format to complete the post.Until next month.1. A blog: “ Fashematics” : Fashion, wide of the mark arithmetic and loutish humour. The Australian blogger Jonathan Zawada is the perfect antidote to all the fashion victims out there. The guy is the bomb: he produces ads for Coca-Cola, he designs T-shirts and still he has time to publish a fanzine, “Petit Mal”, satirising the fashion world via the super-hero character, villains and all. Standing ovation please.2. The vanity moment: MGMT, The Drums, The Walkmen and The National. All of them have posed for GQ magazine for the Rock the Suit” (original, huh?) feature. All booted and suited. So much uniformity scares me.3. The “I want it all” collection: Madras, A.P.C. second line. Reasonable prized, plenty of basics and tons of fashion common sense for the summer. If you have a pair of shorts, a bikini, a couple of dresses and a jersey in case it gets “nippy”, what else do you need? Furthermore, navy stripes and vichy checks never fail. A classic staple.4. The cover: Kylie, enigmatic and ethereal at the June edition of British “Elle”, though pretty much unrecognisable due to the blurry effect. Suggestive Kylie. We always appreciate a bit of subtlety and distance in pop and fashion, where the explicit rules and mystery seems to have left the building for good.

5. The new talent: Mercedes Capitán. This 17 years old photographer has already shown her work in her home town Cádiz at a solo exhibition “ China by Coco”, inspired by a journey though the Asian country. As comfortable in the classroom as backstage, she practises a delicate mix of apparent naturalism and over exposure that reminds one, sometimes, of Juergen Teller. More at

6. The hype: American Apparel started it. Topshop, Zara, Urban Outfiters and H&M followed: we have a new trend. Lace kind of popped a few seasons ago but now it features heavily. At Coachella, where you can catch all the future summer festival musts, we saw it in jump suits, dresses, skirts and jackets (underwear doesn’t count, it must be seen).

7. The hype we never get tired of: Phoebe Philo. It's not very often the fashion universe reaches a unanimous opinion. Her return has multiplied Céline’s turnover, and at the same time, nude and camel. “Gentlewoman” now has the difficult task of topping this cover:

8. Every- bleeding-where: “The Selby”. That’s what we call monitezation. From the release of a book of his portraits to the Louis Vuitton signing, there’s barely been a breeze. A little bit less artificial and more relaxed are the interiors at Apartamento, already in the shelves.

9. The dismay: the “Sex in the city 2” poster. New heights for the lethal combination of Photoshop, botox and cosmopolitans. !Uh-ha!

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