In about a year’s time, the name “Tavi” has become synonymous with fashion and style, but doesn’t it seem like only yesterday that we all bookmarked thestylerookie.com in our toolbars? In no time, this pint-sized fashion phenomenon has been featured in the New York Times, POP Magazine, Teen Vogue, French Vogue and so many other fashion bibles. Then there’s her work as muse for avant-garde designers all over the world (Rodarte, much?) and, to top it all off, she’s got her very own Wikipedia page. Whew! That’s a lot to accomplish before the age of 14, wouldn’t ya say?
We first met Tavi at our brunch for Weardrobe last September and, luckily, we’ve managed to stay in touch. Tavi is a total sweetheart and was nice enough to let us pick her brain (a lot) and she even sent us these amazing shots that she took with one of our mini LOMO Diana cameras. Click here to view all the photos. or sit back and enjoy this super amazing interview! THANKS TAVI! We heart you!
Everyone seems to have Tavi-fever, why do you think people find you so fascinating? (I encourage bragging!)
I think it’s my dashing looks and charming personality, of course! But really, I like to write and I like to take pictures and I like to get dressed and I love fashion… Now it seems like so many people start blogs hoping it’ll get them in a magazine or to fashion week or something? And it’s easy to tell when that is the purpose of a blog… For me it’s always just been about clothes and being a part of the fashion blogging community and having fun… which is good because once people are sick of me I can still enjoy blogging! But that doesn’t really answer the question, huh? I guess you would have to ask the people that read me.
Everyone is so curious about your family! What started your fascination with fashion? A fancy granny? A mom with a killer shoe collection? A dad with major specs appeal?
No, but we are all a glasses family! My dad dresses like any regular English teacher with too many Jerry Garcia ties. My oldest sister bought a bit of vintage as a teenager but I only appreciated it as costume. My mom has been taking me to Goodwill ever since I was little but I always hated it. I wanted clothes from the Gap or Old Navy.
But I have always loved theater…I think the first VHS I saw was a taping of the broadway production of Into the Woods. The different characters, the different visual themes of each play fascinated me when I was younger and still does. I loved Halloween and whenever I could be in a play as an opportunity to be someone else. But what made me realize I could have this much fun every day was when my best friend’s sister let us play dressup in her closet when I was in 6th grade. Seeing someone I knew that was a regular teenager have the confidence to wear the coolest, craziest stuff every day was inspiring and the idea still fuels my want to get dressed every morning.
Your dad has Jerry Garcia ties… He sounds AMAZING! So your parent’s might not be the MOST fashionably inspiring, but are they the bragging type? I know my mom has a cut out of every post I’ve ever written, are your parents showing their friends your mag articles?!
Before we go to any type of family thing I tell them not to talk about it! It’s embarrassing! They are a bit goofy and proud though. They’re also terribly unorganized (like me!) so they’ve tried compiling a folder but it fell apart. Last time we were at the airport we bought a Teen Vogue and my dad showed it to the patrons of Hudson News. Yep, not awkward.
So your parents seemed pumped and I must say, your dad sounds pretty hilarious, but how has your new popularity in the fashion world, effected your everyday life, like at school?
Quite a bit of people know about it by now but it’s not Hannah Montana level or anything. I think it’s an enigma to most people that I’m even interested in fashion. Upon learning I went to Fashion Week, my gym teacher said, “I would’ve never guessed you were interested in fashion!” But isn’t the idea of fashion to people who haven’t read about it a sort of Project Runway / The Devil Wears Prada world? So I’m glad that, to people with that in their heads, it’s astonishing I would like fashion.
(I love your gym teachers reaction!) You seem so put together and have such poise and confidence, it’s easy to forget your age; how do your peers react to your style?
I get emails and comments from people my age that are really kind and supportive, and my friends are like that too. Of course on the Internet and in school there is some nasty talk but what can you do about that kind of thing but not pay attention to it? I think it amuses most people at school in a what-is-she-going-to-wear-today kind of way and can-i-associate-it-with-another-inanimate-object-questionmark? But, by now people are somewhat used to it. I enjoy being a weird character that is always staring ahead looking like she’s about to behead a peasant though, so I don’t quite notice. And I like to glide through the hallways like Bjork did when she walked for Jean Paul Gaultier.
I just had a vision of you “runwaying” through the halls… And you looked fierce! Are there more “Tavis” in your group of friends?
Group of friends at school..no. Group of friends I know through fashion and blogging, of course.
Is it hard for you to take risks in what you wear? You’re always dressed to the nines but do you ever second guess your choices?
I think I rarely second guess wearing something because it might be too out-there…only if I don’t think it’s right with the outfit.
Okay, now for the question on everyone’s mind… Where do you shop the most? What’s your fave secret store?
If I tell you it’s not secret! But it’s not a clothing store anyway. Frankly, I buy most of my clothes from the Salvation Army. It’s cheap and you can always find what you’re looking for and be surprised by stuff you didn’t know you totally needed. On lots of online stores – FredFlare included – I have months-old shopping carts full of stuff I chickened out of buying. Buying basics and almost everything else at the SA leaves me money left for a special designer piece every now and then, and then I shop online.
Who are your all time fave designers?
In no specific order: Rei Kawakubo, Alexander McQueen, Yohji Yamamoto, Miuccia Prada, Vivienne Westwood, Martin Margiela, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, Hussein Chalayan, Marc Jacobs…ugh, that’s long!
If you could swap closets with anyone, who would it be?
I like my closet! Mostly. Can I just take someone else’s and add it to mine? Because then I would take Katie Grand, Bjork, Isabella Blow, Anna Piaggi, Lynn Yaeger…
If you had a time machine, which style era would you visit first?
The 60′s. Everything 60′s. I am waiting for everyone to get sick of their computers (irony!) and rebirth my homeland…er, time.
What inspires you?
Certain movies, books, and people inspire me to just be creative… I’m Not There, The Royal Tenenbaums, Totoro… books-wise all of my huge coffeetable books… the history of Prada, illustrations of Ayumi Osashi… and zines my friends have made or I’ve gotten from stores like Golden Age or Two Bridges Trading make me just want to create… photographers like Eleanor Hardwick and Tim Walker do the same. And then there are my favorite designers and magazines that inspire me more in terms of seeing looks or ideas I want to try to rework with my own clothes. A more literal idea, such as a color scheme or print.
Right now I love the idea of everything being slightly off, sort of Juergen Teller-y…and the idea of having a character I slip into every week…don’t you wish you could be one of those people like Margot Tenenbaum who has a sort of uniform but it’s totally HER? However, she is the only person who actually looks non-annoying in pounds of eyeliner and Lacoste.
And I’m way too ADD for that. Right now though I really like 90′s stuff… I am scouring the Internet for pictures from early issues of The Face and i-D. The Buffalo movement of Ray Petri and Jamie Morgan… early Kate Moss… the X-Girl line by Kim Gordon and, um, Less Famous Friend I Am Too Lazy To Google..
These old books my art teacher lets me look at all day… one about Paris from the 70′s has all these amazing photographs with captions so hilariously ‘poetic’… one is called Wonders of the Past and it’s copyrighted 1924… one is an old book full of pictures from Life. And tons of old National Geographics.
Today I passed a house that had just piles of weird furniture in the yard and lots of lights strung through the trees. It was amazing.
Around this time last year I was so into looking creepy and I’d like to get back into that. Steven Meisel just shot a story called Organized Robots about some weird nun white lace otaku sex cult? It’s so great! Edward Gorey and Aubrey Beardsley help here, too.
I was just in Japan. The street style of younger people in places like Harajuku is really amazing but in the hidden alleyways there are all these small houses and small gardens and the elderly women that keep them look great without even knowing it. I think that’s the most stylish type of person, don’t you? I don’t mean that trendy “effortless” thing (which doesn’t work because I KNOW YOU TOTALLY SPEND HOURS ON STYLE.COM DON’T LIE TO ME) but I mean when an old lady or dude at the library is just all “What? this is just what I wear…” and also most likely hates fashion.
I guess it’s usually more an idea that is inspiring..sometimes it’s the color scheme two book spines happen to create by accident but it’s usually a concept of some type of character or person or story.
Who is your hero?
You. And Charlie the cat. And some of my friends and family, and some people I don’t even know. This could change, though. I go in between the To Kill a Mockingbird “most people are nice once you get to know them” state of mind, and the Ghost World “Some people are okay, but mostly I just really want to poison everybody” state of mind. Maybe if you asked me in a few days I would say my dog!
What’s been your favorite project?
I once built a fairy house in 4th grade…that was fun…I liked working with Pop last summer in London, and Tokyo was great…
Are you collaborating on any upcoming projects that we should know about?
You should but I can’t sayyyyy!
How did you design your tee shirt thats for sale on your blog?
T: I made a painting inspired by the Yves Saint Laurent Fall 08 makeup and posted it, and people kept commenting saying “If you don’t make it a tshirt, I will!” So I was all HALE NO and contacted the people that do Fake Karl’s shirts.
What do you want people to remember most about you?
I’d like to think I’m doing something incredibly revolutionary and changing a lot but this isn’t really the case. Eventually I’ll be able to answer this question but right now I can’t.
Is your name short for something? What does it mean?
It is just Tavi. It comes from David which means king, I think? So that’s me. King.
SPEED ROUND… When did you start blogging on the regular?
I think I started to try doing it every day last September? But I have been blogging since Spring 2008. Whats your fave blog?
Here’s a link to some of my favorites… How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
I would not know how to answer this question. If you were a character in a book, who would you be?
Pippi Longstocking…Blanche DuBois…Scout Finch…Violet Baudelaire…Enid Coleslaw…
Tavi also picked ONE question from a customer… Henny asked: “Do you think models are still relevant to selling fashion? Fashion mags and ad campaigns usually feature celebs. Will models ever be super again?”
T: I love this question because magazines will never talk about it and I think it’s an interesting topic.I think models will always be relevant to selling fashion, because whether they need to act like just a walking coathanger or bring personality to a photo, there is always one willing to do it. I think designers run a greater risk in using celebrities than they do in using models because with actresses there are always people that don’t like them and then the ad may not appeal to these people and they’re less willing to buy the clothes. The use of such thin models is also controversial, however, so maybe that’s as great as a risk, commercially…I’m not sure. I’m honestly just thinking aloud here!I don’t think models will be super again the way they were in the 90′s, because then they were allowed to have personality on the runway and it was a very sudden surge of very special ones…and they were all pals. But I do think that models will always be used to sell clothes in ads, editorials, and ALWAYS runway. By now, models ARE celebrities. It’s not like Natalia Vodianova on the cover of Vogue is like WOW, THAT IS A RANDOM GIRL SELLING US THESE CLOTHES USING HER LOOKS! like it is in catalogues. It’s more, oh look, famous model, etc. Does that make sense? Once again, thinking aloud.