Thirteen

Originally posted March 2, 2010

Remember that great movie by Catherine Hardwicke starring Evan Rachel Wood before Marilyn Manson turned her all goth? It was called Thirteen, and every parent I knew who saw it back in 2003 was afraid that their daughter would turn out to be that kind of horrible druggie.

Well, parents, I have a new horror film for you. It’s about a girl who also happens to be 13 and has become the unofficial mascot of the fashion world. But before I say any more, I need to mention that much like the movie, this situation is all the parents’ fault. And to you parents, you should examine the choices you’re making in your lives that would let your child take such a turn.

And now please indulge me whilst I scold the fashion world…

What is the matter with you people that you would treat a 13-year-old as a grown-up—allowing her to believe her opinions matter—when you know you get sick of things very, very quickly and you’ll get rid of her faster than you can say “last season’s Louboutins”?

Do none of you see that embracing her abilities denigrates your own? If a small child with questionable aesthetic choices can make what passes for meaningful commentary on runway shows, why should anyone pay you an adult salary for doing the same thing?

Tavi Gevison writes a blog called Style Rookie. She sits in the front row at high-profile fashion shows. She dyed her hair gray. She wore an enormous bow on her head at the Dior Couture show, blocking the view of  editors from some mainstream journalistic ventures who were there doing their jobs for which they are paid handsomely.

Tavi Gevison served as the muse for the Rodarte for Target collection. And Tavi Gevison is 13 years old. She is a child…irrelevant…being made a mockery of. She breaks my heart and repulses me at the same time. I’m sure her parents are unaware (or are they?) of the perils of a life in fashion—how you can end up jaded, bitter and miserable with a closet full of black clothing (or worse).

I would like to offer up Gary Coleman as evidence of the bad things that can happen to children who are told they are without reproach when they are at an age too young to believe they are anything but the center of the universe. Then I would like to follow Coleman with a healthy dose of Dana Plato and a side order of Todd Bridges.

Of course, I understand Coleman and his Diff’rent Strokes pals are a product of the epicenter of evil— Hollywood—but there are a few ex models who started out in the business when they were underage who would, I’m sure, back up my blustering here. (Gia Carangi most certainly has my back on this one from the grave.)

Yeah, yeah, yeah…can of worms. Blah, blah, blah…only a child. No doubt I’m going to be hated upon by those who are secretly thinking what I’m thinking but will not say it because they are afraid of picking on a kid. But when a kid starts playing in the big sandbox (Miley Cyrus, anyone?), I say all bets are off. Besides, I am a grown-up—I can take it.

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Happy Hunting, Haute Couture-style

Originally posted January 27, 2010

When I was in the eighth grade at the illustrious Congdon Campus School in the very tony Potsdam, New York, we performed a musical. I had been waiting breathlessly all year long to see what our music teacher, Mrs. Factor, would select for us—a bunch of hapless musical-theater nerds—to perform. Would it be something I deemed cool like Bye Bye Birdie or something I already knew and loved like Damn Yankees? (You can see by my choices how naive I was and what kind of standards I had for determining cool at age 13.) Anyway, fat chance. When Mrs. Factor told us we would be performing a little known Ethel Merman vehicle (and I’m sure Broadway flop) called Happy Hunting, let’s just say even I knew we were going to make the audience squirm.

As I clicked through all of the photos of John Galliano’s couture collection presented earlier in the day today (or probably yesterday—I can’t be expected to do complicated time-zone math, can I?), I realized that if only Monsieur Galliano could have done the costumes for my eighth-grade play, then I would have been in heaven, and my parents would have one less humiliation arrow in their quiver of shame.

Dior’s red riding jacket over a long windowpane-checked skirt avec bustle paired with a netted top hat and a riding crop would have been perfect for my character. The Bride of Frankenstein white streaks in the model’s FLDS-esque pompadour braids and the hot pink satin riding jacket over the white skirt would have been even better, as I played a snooty mainline matron. (Not so easy to pull off in the eighth grade if you don’t have boobs yet, I might add.)

I should pause for a second to say I am not mocking here. I am in love with every single thing that trotted down that runway. Those riding boots with the granny buttons on the side? I would cut a bitch if she tried to pry those out of my fingers. That Stephen Jones leather snood? Dang, I wish I had one of those to wear in front of the computer tomorrow. I couldn’t click through the photos fast enough. Then just when I was almost at the limit of my horsey fantasy, Galliano switched gears ever so slightly with the most confectionery lace dresses—almost Mae West, only with perfect style and a little Grace Kelly thrown in for good measure. It knocked me right off my Aeron chair.

Haute couture to me is like clothing porn, and I am apparently going to have to seek counseling for my online addiction to it.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering what Galliano wore to take his bow at the end of the show? Black riding jacket, white riding pants, knee-high riding boots, top hat and riding crop. The dandy knows how to drive the point home, you’ve got to give him that.