exclusive: tavi gevinson talks teen solidarity and attending fashion week at 13

Shot by documentary filmmaker Marian Lacombe, this video portrait of the Rookie founder, actress, and all-round inspiration, screens on i-D for International Women’s Day.

by Alice Newell-Hanson
08 March 2017, 7:10pm

"I don't even know what I was looking for when I started. I was in sixth grade and my friend's older sister had a blog and I just thought she was really cool and confident," says the equally cool and confident Tavi Gevinson about starting her blog Style Rookie in 2008, at age 11. "And I think I was bored!"

As part of the non-profit initiative The Female Lead, founded by entrepreneur Edwina Dunn, filmmaker Marian Lacombe captured Gevinson talking about her early years as a middle school fashion blogger, teen loneliness, and connecting with women on the internet. The film is part of a wider portrait project that aims to make women's stories more visible and offer up positive role models for young women. The full list of 60 subjects includes Meryl Streep, Ava DuVernay, Samantha Power, Karlie Kloss, and Mickalene Thomas, all photographed by Brigitte Lacombe and filmed by her sister Marian.

Soon after launching Style Rookie, Tavi began attending shows during New York Fashion Week at the age of 13. In Lacombe's mini documentary, Tavi describes how her fashion obsession burgeoned during deep dives through Style.com and how she found community through the internet. "I found other people who were interested in the same stuff I was," she says. "Because I couldn't really sit down at the family dinner table and be like, 'Did you guys see the new Rodarte collection?' My parents would be like, 'No. We did not.'"

Now, at age 20, Tavi has not only grown her blog into a full-fledged online publication, Rookie, she's also given a TED talk, relentlessly advocated on behalf of young people everywhere, and starred in three major theater productions in three years, including, most recently, Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. "Now that I'm older," she says, looking back at her time as a teen fashion fan, "I'm like, 'Wow, what was it like to be at the Alexander Wang after-party at Milk Studios and see a 13-year-old walk by with her dad?' I understand why people were confused. But because it's my life it's not that weird to me."

In creating Rookie, she says she wanted to "create a space where our readers could find each other and publish their work and have a voice." When better than International Women's Day to celebrate a woman who has done just that — empowering a generation of young women through her honesty, enthusiasm, and advocacy?

A selection of ten films from The Female Lead project (including Tavi's, Ava DuVernay's, and Meryl Streep's) are available to stream on Le Cinéma Club this week.


Text Alice Newell-Hanson

tavi gevinson
international women's day
marian lacombe
iwd 2017
the female lead