Tavi Gevinson is only 16 years old, and she's already a household name in the fashion world: when she was 11, she created a blog, "Style Rookie," that captured the attention of designers, editors and industry insiders in addition to a cult audience of young readers who obsessively followed the Chicago-area native's sophisticated commentary and quirky-cool wardrobe updates.
Gevinson soon received invitations to New York Fashion Week, appeared on artsy magazine covers (Pop, L'Officiel) and struck up a friendship with Kate and Laura Mulleavy, aka the Rodarte sisters. (She helped promote and inspire their 2009 collection for Target. In an interview with Style.com, the avante-garde duo described Gevinson, then 13, as "a mix between J.D. Salinger, Dorothy Parker and Cindy Sherman.")
Gevinson attended the Mulleavys' Spring 2013 runway show earlier this month and also attended a downtown bash for the hipster clothing emporium Opening Ceremony. She appeared on Jimmy Fallon's late-night show, where she effortlessly engaged in banter with the host (even showing him her patented "bitchface").
The main reason she in New York, however, was to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Rookie Magazine, her irreverent website geared toward young women that spans the subjects of fashion, pop culture and true-life confessionals. Gevinson is Rookie's founder-editor, and her imprint is everywhere, from a DIY tutorial on "How to Turn Your Tights Into Knee Socks" to an ode to the Bard called "Literally the Best Thing Ever: Shakespeare." Her celebrity no doubt helped lure the likes of Jon Hamm and Paul Rudd to participate in the popular video feature "Ask a Grown Man." (Her next target: President Obama, the subject of a Twitter campaign to recruit the commander-in-chief as the next famous male to answer readers' questions.)
At a school dance-themed party at the Ace Hotel on Sept. 12, Gevinson also feted the release of her first book, Rookie Yearbook One, a collection of photos and essays written by Rookie writers and celeb scribes including Miranda July. Gevinson included her amusing article on "How to Bitchface," or recreate her stone-faced expression (it could also be dubbed, "Fashionface").
"It's kind of just a face I make a lot," she said in an interview with THR, laughing while explaining that the site's editorial director came up with the idea because of "my, like, constantly looking irritated when I'm like talking about my day or whatever."
Before Rookie's launch in September 2011, Gevinson stipulated that writers would post stories during three key times of the day (including after dinner, prime Facebook-stalking time) and would avoid talking down or preaching to readers.
"Probably my favorite thing ever was my friend's little brother recently went to his first school dance, had his first kiss, and his family later told me that he was telling them about the girl and he said, 'She looks like she reads Rookie.' And that was like a good thing," she said. "And his other guy friends, they're like, 12, were like, 'Yeah, yeah, she had like shiny red shoes!' And It just made me happy that being a girl who reads Rookie was like an attractive quality to these young men."
Despite her high profile, the levelheaded, unfailingly articulate Gevinson seems to make an easy transition between her double lives as student (she lives at home with her parents in Oak Park, Illinois) and media darling (who was also just cast in her first feature film role in writer-director Nicole Holofcener's untitled new film at Fox Searchlight).
She did admit to being nervous before her Fallon sitdown, and when we put her on the spot to give her most memorable celebrity encounter, she conceded to geeking out somewhat during an encounter with James Franco.
"I did meet James Franco once and I said I was a big fan of Freaks and Geeks and he was like, 'So are you a freak or a geek?' And I was like, 'I'm kind of both' and probably went into my life story, which he probably didn't care about, and he was like, 'Yeah I feel like I'm both too sometimes.'"