Tavi Gevinson fascinates us. We read everything we possibly can about the teenage blogger, which is why we we were excited for the 8-page (!) layout in this week’s New Yorker. And now, let’s analyze! (FYI, you have to pick up the hard copy or get an online subscription to read the PDF.)
The article starts out with this amazing (and potentially hyperbolic?) observation by writer Lizzie Widdicombe:
Seeing her moving through the scrum backstage at a fashion show, elaborately costumed and surrounded by paparazzi, brings to mind a religious procession involving a Buddhist child deity.
And it only gets more fun from there. While at first people questioned whether or not her blog was a hoax, they now question her relevance. Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology thinks Tavi’s blog “would be unremarkable if she were not thirteen years old. If she were twenty-three, we’d say ‘Yeah, who cares?'” We have to respectfully disagree with Steele. And this is why: Tavi gets it. She just does. As Miuccia Prada told the New Yorker: “I’m impressed by the comprehension that Tavi has of fashion.”
Her knowledge is encyclopedic, and that’s what makes her a true prodigy. It’s not about the fact that she had a fashion blog when she was 11. It’s about the fact that her references are far-ranging, from lowbrow to highbrow, mass to obscure. She knows more than people who have been following the industry for decades do. Elle‘s Joe Zee had some thoughts on this:
Let’s say Tavi’s fourteen, versus someone like Cathy Horyn who’s done this for x amount of years and can say, ‘When I was at the Galliano show ten years ago, this is how it was.’ Tavi can’t say that, because she was four ten years ago.
But doesn’t that make Tavi even more remarkable? She was the ultimate outsider fangirl, a tween obsessed with capital-F Fashion who educated herself on the industry from her bedroom in suburban Chicago. Some pretty impressive characters understand why she’s so captivating. A caption reads: “John Galliano, Rei Kawakubo, and the Mulleavy sisters all follow her blog.” She has a box filled with keepsakes, including a note from Miuccia: “Dear Tavi, I’m sorry we couldn’t talk more.”
Other interesting tidbits sprinkle the piece — Tavi’s turned down Oprah and Good Morning America (“It’s so cheesy. “The ‘Good Morning America’ audience — I guess that’s just not a crowd whose eyes I want on me.”), was chosen as one of “Barbie’s Ten Women To Watch” in conjunction with the White House Project, dyes her hair because it’s a good people filter (“Based on people’s reactions, you kind of know who’s worth talking to.”) and has normal 14-year-old friends (“They just like Justin Bieber and sports.”)
Most importantly, she understands what she is and what she has become. Says Tavi’s dad:
“We were at Fashion Week. Tavi’d gotten a lot of attention , and we were having breakfast, and she said, ‘You know, I’m always going to be an outsider in this world.’ I said, ‘That’s great, but you never know. People go from being outsiders to insiders and don’t even realize it.'”
“People go from being outsiders to being desired,” Tavi said.