Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tallulah rising - on COACD


Another day, another Australian model enjoys a little Big Apple buzz. Nice to see that this one has her clothes on. Overnight top model industry blog Confessions of a Casting Director (COACD) featured 16 year-old Tallulah Morton.

It’s a simple post. Four Polaroids, the headline “Tallulah at Marilyn” (her agency) and one succinct line:
“All grown up and looking fabulous”.

There were seven comments the last time I checked, several of which also clocked the Karlie Kloss resemblance which has previously struck me. Top US newcomer Kloss was not on the scene when Morton first emerged in 2005-2006.

Modelling is about having the right “look” at the right time, and it seems that Morton's time is rapidly approaching.

Gemma Ward, many will recall, was swiftly followed by lookalike Russian Sasha Pivovarova.

Another key issue of course is the fact that at 16, Morton is now of a more manageable age vis-a-vis international work, given the under-16 age restrictions in several markets.

One place where Morton won’t be able to get any work however is the David Jones runway show – due to DJs 'decision last week to ban all models aged under 18 from the show.

Hilarious really. And their loss - not Morton's.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The topless international debut of Ellie Ross


In January 2006 Chic Management’s Kathy Ward told me that 16 year-old Sydney schoolgirl Ellie Ross had “a huge international career ahead of her”. After an auspicious 2006 debut however – her first gig was for Australian Vogue, followed by Australian Nylon and campaigns for Third Millennium and Sportsgirl – Ross has since been pretty much under the radar. Fast forward to July 29th 2008 and there she is, topless, on high profile international modelling website - tapped as MDC’s latest hot “Of The Minute” girl.

Described by MDC as “a poised 18 year old Australian getting ready for her SS09 moments”, Ross poses in what looks to be not much more than a pair of knickers and scarf, her body entwined around a shirtless 20 year-old black American model called Sonny who is also with Chic’s New York affiliate Next.


With Catherine McNeil, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Stephanie Carter, Alexandra Agoston and latterly Myf Shepherd and Sarah Stephens, all shooting out of Chic’s doors, one would have assumed that Ross would have had more than an even chance of getting the industry’s attention.

chic management

Given the recent V magazine photospread of the stars of “powerhouse” agency IMG however – in which IMG models were all photographed nude and baring their breasts, buttocks and more (including one 16 year-old) - it seems agencies are trying to out-sex each other at the moment.

But look, at least Ross is 18.

Josh Goot to show at London Fashion Week - according to organisers

Goot and Tallulah Morton, after his Sep 06 NY Fashion Week debut/sonny vandevelde via smh

For the past week I have been trying to get an answer out of the Josh Goot camp on Goot’s recently stated intentions to jump international Fashion Week ship from New York to London. But while Goot and his local PR team have been mum on the subject, word overnight from London Fashion Week PR head Anna Orsini is that “Yes, he is showing in London”.

With the Spring/Summer 2009 event running from September 14-19, LFW organisers must have a pretty good idea what’s shaping up for their schedule. That said, Orsini did not clarify if Goot is showing on- or off-shedule. One assumes she’s talking about her own schedule.

Plans can also change at the last minute – not to mention the vital ingredient of sponsorship, which is what usually swings an emerging designer’s decision to show at any Fashion Week.

In February, the London-born and now –based designer, Richard Nicoll, who grew up in Australia, announced that he would be showing at Australian Fashion Week’s Spring/Summer 0809 showcase.

Nicoll made the announcement in an interview on the LFW website in fact (which has since moved on the LFW site). At the time Nicoll was also in negotiations with local representatives, and, according to AFW organiser IMG, IMG itself.

Just as I went to press with the story however, Nicoll’s Westfield sponsorship fell through and the Sydney show was placed on the backburner.

London will be a good fit for Goot, who debuted his signature line at Australian Fashion Week in May 2005 – after staging a big buzz off-schedule show the previous year with his now defunct streetwear label Platform.

Goot made his international runway debut off-schedule at New York Fashion Week in September 2006 and he showed off-schedule in New York for the next two consecutive seasons.

Although as this bog revealed last week, Alice McCall is doing the reverse by heading from an off-schedule LFW show to off-schedule in New York, where she recently picked up a dozen new stockists, at least two other Australian brands have described the current US retail climate as “a disaster”.

In London, Goot is sold at a number of influential boutiques, including Browns and the high profile boutique Start, which is operated by Brix Smith-Start, a former guitarist with 80s post-punk outfit The Fall and her husband, Philip Start, the founder of the Woodhouse menswear chain. Goot is also now repped by London's Rainbow Wave agency.

On April 27th The Independent newspaper dedicated a standalone story to Goot, headlined, “Wizard of Oz” - comparing him to minimalist masters Calvin Klein, Helmut Lang and Raf Simons in the opening paragraph.

Then on Sunday, The Times singled Goot out as the key Australian fashion “name to know” – in its story headlined “Australian fashion gets hip”.

Goot did manage to garner quite a lot of press buzz in New York. With nearly 300 shows on in years past however, New York Fashion Week is a monster event.

In May, Goot told he that he felt a little lost in NYC.

“I felt like we were getting lost in the crowd or that people weren’t connecting with what we were doing properly” said Goot, who has since also returned to live in Sydney after an 18-month NY stint.

Of London, he noted: “I think also we’re still a young label and we are still finding out feet and figuring it all out. And I think London is a better incubator for that really than New York is. But you know, we’re not from England, in the same way that we weren’t from America”.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Abbey Lee gets on her high horse


Obviously Abbey Lee Kershaw never got the WC Fields memo - that you should never work with children or animals. Following hot on the heels of Vogue Nippon’s April 2008 ‘Daughter of the jungle’ editorial spread, for which Kershaw was shot in the amorous embrace of a clutch of behemoth plush animals (see below), comes a new shoot for Britain’s Dazed & Confused magazine.

Overnight on Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio blog a series of almost one dozen posts popped up with behind-the-scenes reportage on the shoot.

The posts include a number of videos which feature Kershaw (^).

In the clips, Kershaw attempts to negotiate not only the precarious operatic ensembles of Brit enfant terrible Gareth Pugh – one tabard fashioned entirely from safety pins and reportedly weighing as much as the designer – but also a 16.3 hand Friesian stallion.

Shot inside a west London studio, with the assistance of stylist KT Shillingford, makeup artist Alex Box and hair stylist Martin Curren, both Kershaw and the horse – whose name is Castiano – get kitted out in Pugh.

Prior to the addition of a unicorn's horn, here is Castiano being covered in Pugh's black geodesic 'armour':


Kershaw appears in one video practicing “her spinning” on the ground – balletic moves which she is then seen deploying astride Castiano in another video called “A final flourish”.

The “Charge” video sounds like it’s straight out of an episode of Absolutely Fabulous.

In the clip, Kershaw is mounted on Castiano. As the horse moves, a small voice in what sounds like an Australian accent can just be heard saying:

“Where are you going??”

Meanwhile two women, apparently horse wranglers, can be heard talking directly to the horse:

“Casti - Go back darling, back darling, back. All the way. Good boy”

No words of encouragement for Kershaw – but then she's probably not in it for a biscuit of lucerne hay.

Frockwriter would like to say well done anyway.

We would also like to suggest that if Kathy Ward - a director of Kershaw's Oz mother agency Chic Management and an avid dressage rider - has not already considered conducting some wannabe-supermods-meet-the-nay-nays workshops, it’s probably not a bad idea.

vogue nippon via tfs

"If it doesn't fit, it can never be fashion" - Peter Morrissey

What can I tell you about the fourth episode of Project Runway Australia? That Bryanboy's love child with Suzy Menkes (Mark Antonio) hangs in there, as do the Frocker (Helen Manuell) and the gormless Kiwi (Brent Zaicek). Henry Roth's head doesn't get any smaller. And Peter Morrissey doesn't wear any socks.

At least that's what it looked like on last night's episode.

Meanwhile, several questions remain unanswered.

Were PR contestant Juli Grbac (below) and and Alice McCall separated at birth?

Does Mark Antonio's Pompadour become more Baroque with every passing episode?

And finally, what are the chances of Morrissey, Leona Edmiston and Jayson Brunsdon reforming for a one-off season as Morrissey Edmiston?

Buckley's, presumably.

In the interim, we'll have to placate ourselves with last night's episode on which former collaborators (and erstwhile bfs) Morrissey and Brundson, teamed up to deliver the following fashion platitudes to the PR contestants.

Peter Morrissey:

"If it doesn't fit, it can never be fashion"

Jayson Brunsdon:

"It's elegant, modern, deconstructed glamour. To me it's quite brave"

Peter Morrissey:

"To me it isn't groundbreaking"

Jayson Brunsdon:

"The bust area is a nightmare"

Peter Morrissey:

"If you're going to attempt that, you'd better pull it off. If you're going to wear that, then stay at home"

morrissey edmiston catalogue autumn/winter 1993

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Iekeliene Stange on skinny models, babymodels - and breaking through

sonny vandevelde

Over on his blog, Belgian Australian supersnapper Sonny Vandevelde has just logged a great behind-the-scenes reportage on a recent shoot he did with Dutch supermod Iekeliene Stange. It was a cover shoot for RUSSH Japan and the styling taps Stange's eclectic personal fashion sense - I gather she posed in mostly her own gear, with a little assistance from a professional stylist.

It's not by any means the first time this duo (below) has worked together. They are in fact great mates, who flat together in Paris during the shows and hang out at other times.

I'm not quite sure how unique their working relationship is. But in spite of the fact that they're definitely not romantic partners, just friends (each has a separate partner), I think they need their own hybrid name.

Let's call them Sonneliene.

Sonneliene in action in scotland/sonny vandevelde

The shoot reminded me that in my archive of little-published and indeed also completely unpublished material, I had this great Q&A with Stange which has never made it live.

It was done in October 2006, at the end of her "breakthrough" show season - during which she walked in pretty much every major show and at the end of which Karl Lagerfeld dubbed her "the face of the season".

Whenever she decides to leave modelling, it will be interesting to see just where Stange's career takes her. Her parallel career as a photographer is blossoming, with work published in a number of titles.

And already her eclectic fashion style has been quite influential. Prior to her making geek glasses fashionable, for example, I don't recall seeing many other models in glasses.

I did not blog this immediately because it was done right at the end of the SS07 season and by the time I had returned to Sydney, the Fashion Season blog had pretty much gone on hiatus. The iv went on the backburner.

Now 23, about to turn 24, Stange is a much bigger name today. But it's interesting to see what she had to say at the time.

How long have you been modelling for?
Iekeliene Stange: I started when I was 18 but the last year I’ve been doing it properly.

Were you modelling last season?
Yes I was doing last season but this was kind of like my first season.

So you were at the RTW shows in Feb/March?
Yes, I was doing them as well. But this season is the first season that I'm doing it properly.

How many shows did you do?
I don’t know. Thirty-six in New York and another 20 in Milan, like about 20-something in Paris, about eight in London. I don’t know how much that adds up to.

How many shows did you open? I remember Marc Jacobs, Galliano...
I did a few in NY as well. I really don’t remember.

Fashion is so much about the new look or the new face… When did you realise, ‘Hang on, it’s me’ this season?
Well I guess after New York. I was just kind of going from show to show, like six shows a day. I mean I was going well but I had no idea how much the other girls were doing - like what’s normal in New York to do, you know? But my booker said at the end, ‘Yeah, you’ve done the most of the whole agency and like the most of maybe of all the girls in New York’. And then I was like, ‘Oh wow, like yeah…’.

They didn’t realise it at the time?
I realised it was going well but I didn’t know that I was doing, like, the most shows of the girls.

So what does that mean? There are lots and lots of models but it’s interesting when someone breaks through like that.
It was because it was my first season in New York. And everybody was like, ‘Oh you know, new girl, cool’. And then my agency, they didn’t really know what kind of shows I was going to do. If I was going to do the smaller ones or the bigger ones. So they represented me to all the different ones and then it turned out all of them wanted to book me so that’s why I was really busy. And then when I was doing Milan and Paris, they knew that I was doing the nice shows, so then they only represented me for the nicer shows.

So they turned shows down?
Yeah, I mean the smaller ones, they didn’t let me do those anymore.

But the thing is, you were doing shows last season, so if you were available last season, why didn’t they all book you then? This is what I mean about it being interesting vis-a-vis 'breaking through' all of a sudden…
Because I had all these editorials coming out after the summer. It was the first time I went to New York before the summer to do editorials, so I did all these magazines. I did something for W, for Italian Vogue, something for French Vogue and all these big editorials.

When you got to Milan and Paris, then it just kept going?
Then I did London as well, in between. Then I fell off the pavement and I couldn’t do three days. I twisted my ankle. After the second day of London I was supposed to do another, third, day and I go to Paris for two days for a shooting. But I had to cancel the third day. I had to cancel three shows. It was a bit too much. When I was doing New York, I was doing a shooting for ID, which was a night shooting and we were shooting until like five in the morning. And then I had to go straight to the airport. And I got to London in the evening and I would go straight to do like, four fittings, and come home at one - and six am in the morning, call time again for the first shows on Monday. By Tuesday I was kind of like, ‘Woah’. And then when I ran out of a show, I was looking for my motorbike, to go to the next show and I just fell off the pavement and twisted my ankle. My boyfriend was so shocked because I looked like I was fainting or something. But then I just hopped on the motorcycle and went on and did two more shows and two more fittings, but once I got to the fittings I couldn’t even walk anymore. I was still trying it but it was really too much for my foot. And the next day, I couldn’t even walk anymore so I had to go show all these people that I really couldn’t walk.

Just as well it happened in London and not Milan or Paris. So how long did you have off?
Three days.

That was enough?
It had to be. Milan was starting on Saturday.

So if you’ve been modelling for four years and suddenly now, all this success, what does it feel like?
The other years I didn’t really do modelling properly. I was with the wrong agency, they didn’t do anything for me. The last year, I didn’t really want to do anything with it anymore. Last year I was studying and everything. I was studying photography. I studied multimedia design before and then I was going to do photography. Then I got scouted in London by a different agency.

You started a degree?
I did about half of my multimedia design studies in Holland, in Rotterdam.

So you’re a photographer?
Yeah, I plan to kind of build up a portfolio now, because I want to do more reportage and documentary-style. But I’ve been documenting the backstage as well.

Some of those have been posted on Anina’s website?
Yes, because we’re working on the magazine 360F as well. So she’s going to use all of them. I took pictures with a Nokia phone for her as well, so she’s going to use those for her magazine and they’re going to be sponsored by Nokia.

Why not start your own blog?
I didn’t really want to. I didn’t want to have all this attention and stuff. It’s more about my photographs and not about anything else. But I made pictures with my actual cameras as well which are going to be in another magazine.

When you get to the level of being 'The face of the season’, is it competitive? How do other people in the industry react towards you – any differently? What about the other models?
Yeah I guess there are people who start acting differently to you. A lot of people are much nicer to you all of a sudden. People that you’ve seen before that have ignored you. Like suddenly, [enthusiastic] ‘Oh Iekeliene! How are you?’

Models or people in general?
Mostly casting directors and people from the industry. A lot of girls are actually really nice, they’re like ‘Oh I’m so happy you’re doing so well’. Because they know, they’ve seen me already doing it before and they know I’ve always been struggling and now it’s going so well, they’re like really happy for me.

Do you mean successful girls – or not-so-successful girls?
Yeah… I mean a lot of successful girls, they don’t know that I’ve been struggling. They just think, ‘Oh another new face in the big shows’. So when I tell them, they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, good for you’.

Do you think there’s a lot of jealousy in modelling?
I think most of the jealousy and bitching is in the lower….. The girls that are not doing so well, the girls that are more commercial. Those kind of girls that really want to be a model and they do some small commercial jobs. I think in the high fashion stuff there’s not that much. A lot of girls are just picked up from home and it just happens they came into this industry….

Just on really young girls, as young as say 14 years of age. Do you think that’s too young?
Yeah I think it’s too young. A lot of these girls haven’t developed any character yet. They come from highschool straight into this industry and it’s too much. I started when I was 18 and then I had some time when I was living on my own for one and a half years, and I was just kind of like, independent, and I developed my character. And then you feel much stronger in your own shoes. A lot of these girls get into these agencies and they’re there trying to influence them and telling them what to wear and what to do and how to act. And they feel like that’s how they have to be. But it’s really not true. There’s so much more than just fashion in this world.

It's interesting comparing what models wear backstage - ie their own clothes. There are those who look like they’re trying to really glam it up. Huge boots, miniskirts etc. Whereas you’re in your geek glasses and Tinkerbell dresses.
The agencies are telling them what to wear and they all feel like they have to be like this for jobs. I just feel like everybody should just be themselves. I’m not really into.... I couldn’t do it if I had to be like that everyday. I have to express myself and be creative and everything. Some girls, that’s what they like to wear. But a lot of them are just trying to be all designer… They’re all so influenced by what the other girls wear or what they feel like they have to wear to see clients.

And they all have the latest luxury bag. What do you carry?
I’ve got a Mulberry. It’s been given to me and it’s a practical bag. But I’m not really into that much designer. I wear it sometimes when people have given it to me and it’s cool, like I can wear it with some crazy tuutuus or something. But I’m not really, like, ’Check out my latest Prada’.

How would you describe your look? It’s fairly unique.
Well, I’m influenced by a lot of the Japanese street style - Harajuku. I used to be quite a punk rocker when I started. I was the girl with red dreadlocks in my hair and had like huge pants and a ring in my nose and rainbow braces everywhere, quite a crazy style. When I started I had to really tone it down. I felt really comfortable in the beginning because I was so not used to… I had to dress quite normal and everything. My other agency was also telling me what to do, what to wear.

Did they think it put clients off?
Yeah, It was too much. I definitely had to get rid of my dreadlocks.

So what do you wear to castings now?
Now because my agency [Marilyn] is so cool, I wear what I want to… I wouldn’t wear what I would wear in my free time, I would kind of tone it down a little bit. I have friends in London and we always run around with angel wings and crazy stuff.

What’s the story with the [glassless] glasses again?
Well my boyfriend was wearing … I lent him my sunglasses and he took out the…. We had a dressup party this summer and he dressed up like Napoleon Dynamite. So we took out the glass so he was wearing them to dress up. So I started wearing them. It makes me feel [tongue in cheek] more intelligent.

So you feel like you need to feel more intelligent in fashion biz?
It’s just kind of cool. Because all the girls are so trying to be fashionable and models and stuff... and I always just kind of like to be really dorky, just the opposite. I don’t really feel like I have to be this…

What do you think about the skinny models debate?
Some of the girls I was talking to wanted to go to Madrid and were having problems. I’ve heard so many stories, like girls drinking lots of water before [shows] so they would get into the weight limit. All this crazy stuff. Because they all had to be this certain weight. For me, it’s ridiculous, because I would love to gain some weight but I can’t really. I’ve been skinny my whole life and sometimes it’s a problem, I can feel really weak because Fashion Week is like tiny little food, little carrots and little pastries, there’s not much food backstage at Fashion Week. It’s no wonder that we got so skinny. A lot of girls, it’s their structure, it’s how they are. I mean I can’t say there are no girls having anorexia because there are.

Yeah of course. But not that extreme or anything. There’s maybe a few girls who are having anorexia. But most of the girls just eat normally. I’ve been doing some little movies for my friend as well, some interviews about girls, and they all think it’s crazy. And it’s always been like that in the industry so why all of a sudden make such a big drama about it? In America there are lots of people that are having lots of fat people.

Sure – obesity affects a very high percent of the population. By the same token there is pressure on models to stay thin.
I know that we influence people a lot. I actually have someone close to me who has anorexia. And I know that she’s in a clinic.

NY mag might have been "ragging" on Tavi - but it scooped the NY Times

the photo that launched tavi into orbit: fashion robot

Tavi update! In my nightly net trawls I spotted a comment on NY mag’s The Cut blog overnight from someone claiming not only to be Tavi’s sister, but that Tavi had recently been interviewed for the "New York Times Style" magazine. Coupla hours later comes this update.

According to a new post on The Cut:

“A source at the mag confirmed that Tavi will indeed be in the August 17 women's fashion issue, though they weren't entirely positive if the writer met her in person or talked via e-mail. (But since there are photos on Tavi's blog of her at the Times building, we're guessing in person.)”

Tavi’s blog Style Rookie does feature shots of her at the “NYTimes building” but I must admit, I was still coming to terms with the prospect of a 12 year-old style goddess when I first looked at Style Rookie, that I didn't pay much attention to the fine print.

Her July 19 post:

style rookie

The woman in the photo with Tavi is “Elizabeth” from the White Lightning blog who I quoted yesterday.

You know, the one who had noted:

“let me say this, nymag and all random haters take note: miss tavi, the style rookie, is real. and basically awesomer than most of us. we had lunch. she got to see what a magazine office is like. we discussed the cdg/lv bags. someone in the elevator thought she was MY DAUGHTER (yeah, that has neverrr happened to me before. especially since i still get carded at rated R movies. but i would adopt her in a sec so WHATEVS.). as soon she's old enough i'd welcome her to be the star intern in our office. and then she'll steal all of our jobs”.

This is one and the same Elizabeth Spiridakis who works for The New York Times it now emerges. Spiridakis writes a weekly blog on (to which she occasionally makes reference on White Lightning).

I can find no reference to Tavi or Style Rookie on Perhaps they thought the story would hold until August 17.

It must be especially frustrating for the NYT given that not only was it onto the Tavi story before the NY mag, a number of bloggers who have been railing against NY mag's so-called "ragging" on Tavi appear to have confused the two mastheads. A case in point this blog headline, "New York Times = Bully".

By "Style" magazine one assumes Tavi's sister meant "T" - whose August 17 issue does indeed, as the "source" mentioned, focus on women's fashion.

No idea what the magazine’s lead time is but now that Tavi has graduated to the status of “coolest kid ever” – a gong she will have to share with that Sartorialist kid until she can trump his Pierre Hardy sneakers – stand by to see if the original August 17 T cover subject gets dumped for Tavi.

Meanwhile The Cut wasn’t taking any chances with its tone yesterday.

In the event that anything was to be further misconstrued by "Team Tavi", the blog signed off its Tavi update with the following words:

“To which we say, Huzzah, Tavi! At 12 we were still watching Fashion Television on cable and dreaming of NYC. That's a compliment, by the way”.

Sarah Stephens: Attempts explanation of "dag" to NY reporter - shows safest way to channel Wino

screen grab/'the cut'

Moving away from Tavi-gate for a moment, New York magazine’s The Cut blog steered into what it undoubtedly hoped would be less hater-laden waters yesterday: model interviews. Up-and-coming Oz supermod – and Chic hatchling - Sarah Stephens was yesterday’s video subject.

Click here to see the video.

The most interesting part of the iv is when Stephens finds herself having to explain the meaning of the Australian slang term "dag" to reporter Kendall Herbst.

Herbst: “How were you discovered? What was your big break?”

Stephens: “I won the Girlfriend Model Search. I didn’t expect it. I was the dag at school”

Herbst: “What’s the dag?”

Stephens: “Oh sorry – not the loner….. [thinks] A bit of a nerd. I was a bit of a square in Melbourne.”

[UPDATE 26/7 @ 12.05pm: As one reader pointed out overnight, Stephens is from Sydney, not Melbourne and what sounds very much like "a square in Melbourne" in the iv might in fact be "a square Melvin". I'll try and clarify this].

Damned shame she didn't clarify the exact origins of the word dag.

For the benefit of any internationals reading, please be advised that the original meaning of the word “dag” - ie before it was adopted as slang - is in fact a piece of poo dangling off a sheep’s bum.

Stephens also mentions that she “played in a band” at school.

Unlike Michaela Gerhmann however, the instrument in question does not appear to have been the drums. I’m sure I heard Stephens say “bass clarinet”.

With Oz models channelling Amy Winehouse very much the flavour of the week moreover, interesting to see Stephens point to some editorial in her portfolio and then explain the shoot's styling inspiration.

“It’s sort of like Amy Winehouse” explains Stephens;

“Minus the crack of course”.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Beth Ditto on SHOWstudio

screen grab/'feminist'

Don’t know if you have been following SHOWstudio’s ‘Political Fashion’ series – or indeed if you follow SHOWstudio at all. That’s the website operated by British photographer Nick Knight, which is prone to all manner of creative colabs. Overnight Beth Ditto, The Gossip frontwoman - and size acceptance poster girl - appeared in a Nick Knight film titled simply, Feminist, vamping it up in Alexander McQueen and Christopher Kane.

screen grab/'feminist'

In my recent interview with Paris-based US actor Velvet d’Amour, Velvet nominated Ditto as one of the frontrunners of "the quiet, fat revolution”.

Click here
to see the film.

screen grab/'feminist'

Tavi the Style Rookie - she might not have legs, but the story sure does

style rookie

Judging by the traffic overnight (and notably from the US) there was a huge amount of interest in the story of fashion blogger extraordinaire Tavi - the author of Style Rookie - who describes herself as “a vertically challenged 12 year old that could fit inside your purse". The mainstream media appears to be asleep at the wheel, however the internet exploded overnight. And given the outpouring from those who say they either know Tavi, or have met her, it seems there's a chance that this story might not revolve around a clever marketing stunt after all, but rather, one clever kid.

style rookie

Much of the online reaction appears to have been in protest to New York mag journalist Jessica Coen who broke the Tavi story on the magazine's blog The Cut on Tuesday. That's in the mainstream news arena sense.

The Tavi story had been bubbling along in the blogosphere for three months - as it emerges, ever since a 16 year-old blogger by the name of Stephanie, aka Fashion Robot, first photographed her younger sister and bunch of her sister's friends - including a then unnamed Tavi - playing dressups.

Fashion Robot published a photospread of the session on March 22nd. Many commenters swooned over the style of "the little blonde girl".

On April 16th, Fashion Robot revealed that "the little blonde girl" had her own blog.

Subsequent blogs to pick the story up include Style Nova and Fashion Pirates.

On Tuesday NY mag's Jessica Coen simply asked a few questions as to Tavi's bona fides – as indeed any journalist should have done in these circumstances.

It was Coen’s snippy tone which seems to have been the problem.

Coen had written:
“So what sets Tavi apart from all those other bloggers no one cares about? If it weren't enough that she calls out Snoop "Doggy Dog" in the same paragraph that she drops "Margiela DIY," she's "wanting" a "fringed vest" and "listening" to Feist. Her blog is full of pictures of her in trendy duds, like high-waisted pants and mixed floral pieces. She writes about what she wore to her friend Claire's birthday party, thrifting, and Australian Vogue”.

I must admit I missed the Australian Vogue reference yesterday.

Here's a small sample of the many hostile comments posted on The Cut overnight.

Noted one commenter:
“So Tavi happens to be several times cooler than you where when you were her age(12!), get over it!”

And another:
“I'd rather see a thousand and ten Tavis out there than the Ho-llister and Abercrappy and Bitch clanned teens we are forced to see every day. I'm 13, and I have a blog, and mine doesn't deserve half the support that Tavi's does”.

Yet another:
“i am 12 and i have a fashion blog, big whoop. what is it to you? Tavi is my friend, and why doesn't it matter if she has good style. it not her fault that you don't. here, read my blog, i am real and i am real pissed. why can't a 12 year old have good style?”

style rookie

As for the blogosphere, well, it went into overdrive.

This is from a blog called White Lightning:

“let me say this, nymag and all random haters take note: miss tavi, the style rookie, is real. and basically awesomer than most of us. we had lunch. she got to see what a magazine office is like. we discussed the cdg/lv bags. someone in the elevator thought she was MY DAUGHTER (yeah, that has neverrr happened to me before. especially since i still get carded at rated R movies. but i would adopt her in a sec so WHATEVS.). as soon she's old enough i'd welcome her to be the star intern in our office. and then she'll steal all of our jobs”.

Catwalk Queen wrote:
“Why is the New York magazine ragging on Tavi? I think Tavi 'deserves' an 'apology'"!

Catwalk Queen has also created a special T-shirt in the Tavster's honour:

catwalk queen

Teen Vogue – which quite possibly had never heard of Tavi prior to Tuesday - nevertheless claimed the story as their own, and Tavi as “One of our absolute favorite fashion bloggers” and a “12-year-old prodigy”.

Together with the headline:

style rookie

As for Tavi well, there's still no sign of her on the blog.

Her signoff post however now has 62 comments – all of them telling her, words to the effect, "You go girl!".

And frockwriter has a feeling that, forming a queue behind Tavi's perplexed parents and the child welfare authorities, may well be a swag of literary agents, publishers and the Nickelodeon and Disney networks, all waving six figure contracts.

According to Tavi's mate Stephanie aka Fashion Robot, Tavi is doing fine.

Writes Stephanie today:

“...she's a bit freaked out by this whole thing.... Don't worry guys - I spoke to Tavi and she'll be back to the blog in a few days!“

Thursday, July 24, 2008

sass & bide's page one

Sass & Bide on the cover of today's WWD.

It might just be a beaded cotton camisole and not their signature jeans - they have to share page one billings with Earl Jean on that regard - but it's a cover nonetheless.

And it follows one week after Collette Dinnigan made WWD's page one with a white lace dress from her resort 2009 collection, styled up with yet another floppy hat:

Alice McCall heads to NY Fashion Week - one of just three Oz labels this season?

alice mccall resort 09/pierre toussaint

Overnight COACD scanned the latest draft of New York’s Fashion Calendar and Alice McCall and sass & bide were the only Australian names listed thus far. To this frockwriter can add Aurelio Costarella. Costarella is not only going back to NYFW but, after two seasons showing off-schedule, he has bitten the bullet and is showing for the first time on-schedule in Bryant Park on September 11 @ 9.00am.

aurelio costarella FW0809/jason kibbler/model: amy finlayson

McCall is no surprise really.

In April, she told me that she was planning to show in New York come September.

alice mccall resort 09/pierre toussaint

McCall has shown off-schedule in London on several occasions.

This will be her first US show: off-schedule at 6pm, September 5, in the Altman Building.

“We’re ready to do a show again, absolutely” McCall told me this morning.

The designer’s last show was in May 2007 at Australian Fashion Week. In the interim McCall had a baby.

alice mccall resort 09/pierre toussaint/model: megan hind

In spite of the tough US retail climate that has impacted on the business of some Australian designers, McCall told me that she picked up 12 new US retail accounts in February with her “High on Rebellion” collection.

“We want to manage those” said McCall.

“It’s also an untapped market for us. We’re doing fantastically with our TopShop range in the UK, it sold out very quickly. Considering the economic climate, we’re having positive results”.

Sass & Bide is a surprise, because I had heard on the grapevine that they were considering not showing this season.

And Willow?

Willow is, according to the designer's HQ, still a possibility - and apparently for an on-schedule, but off-site show on either the 11th or 12th September - however nothing is as yet confirmed.

As listed in the Fashion Calendar scan, New Zealand's Karen Walker is also planning to show once again.

For the SS07 season two years ago the following six Australian names either individually staged, or were involved in, shows at New York Fashion Week:

• Sass & Bide
• Willow
• Toni Maticevski
• Josh Goot
• Lincoln Mayne Hoskins (Manhattan-based - Gen Art show)
• Ksubi (colab collection as part of the Jeremy Scott show)

The following season Jayson Brunsdon and Aurelio Costarella also mounted solo NY shows.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Is Tavi the world's youngest fashion blogger?

style rookie

Moving on from models-who-blog and models-who-sing, comes fashion-obsessed-kids-who-blog. Today's NY magazine throws the spotlight on what could be the world’s youngest fashion blogger. Or a marketing stunt. Or something else entirely.

On her Style Rookie profile, Tavi describes herself as:

“a vertically challenged 12 year old that could fit inside your purse. I like to think I'm a mix of Little Lu Lu and Iggy Pop, with a bit of Snoop Doggy Dog. I spend my time wearing out crayons and watching Arthur, and taking a rest now and then to try out the latest Margiela DIY, which has most recently resulted in a tire around my neck. I take part in a rap group with a pirate, and we write about Japanese designers and furry vests. Pleasure to make your acquaintance”.

style rookie

If this is to be believed, Tavi has been blogging since April with, to date, 3,813 profile views.

I’ll wager they're not all fashionwatchers.

Now look I know David Jones is doing is darndest to head off at the pass any future underage model scandals – by banning runway models under the age of 18. Some have applauded the decision.

style rookie

But what is one to do when cashed-up, tech-savvy kids are getting onto the net posting pics of themselves in their latest outfits?

The writing style seems incredibly mature for a 12 year-old. The photographs also look pretty professional.

By the same token, 15 year-old Cory Kennedy was an internet celebrity and on the cover of Nylon magazine before her parents had a clue what was going on.

style rookie

Tavi photographs herself in her fave outfits, critiques runway collections and styles her own shoots. She’s on numerous blogrolls and seems to have generated quite a lot of comments.

On June 28th, she wrote:
“I punched out the lenses in my transparent way-farers for a good pair of geek glasses, I swear they're the coolest thing since sliced bread”.

And on June 27th:
“These past couple nights have been quite odd. I would turn off the light to go to sleep and close my eyes and every time I blinked I would see like a model on the runway wearing something I've never seen, I guess outfits I've thought of subconsciously. What the hell does this even mean? Some sort of epiphany? I used to think of fashion as more of a hobby, the idea of perhaps making a career of it is becoming more real every day....”

On April 16 she told readers:

“Also, something interesting happened today at school that I would just like to share. In gym, I'm in golf (one day I will come to class wearing an argyle sweater and pom-pom hat) and we practice outside on the field. There's an alley next to one side of the field. I was on the other side, but I got the inside scoop (sound more middle-school-gossip-ish please?). An old man, 70 or so, in a dark purple van pulled up in the alley and asked for a few girls to get in his car. They didn't of course, but creepy much??? Reminds me of Family Guy. Ha. And then a few minutes later, someone pulled the fire alarm. Can you say intense? But this day just keeps getting better and better......”

Sadly, with all the attention from New York magazine – and possibly also child welfare authorities – Tavi appears to have signed off.

She tells her readers today:
“I'm sorry, I have to take a break. Not quite sure if I'll be coming back...I'll try to keep updating my weardrobe but I can't exactly guaruntee anything. Hate to throw all this dumb adolescence stuff here where it really doesn't need to be”.

Nicole Trunfio: Anointed by Vogue, trashed by Murdoch


You’ve got to feel sorry for Oz comeback queen Nicole Trunfio. One minute, she’s on the August cover of Vogue Australia (^) and hooked up with prestige international campaigns such as Guess? The next, her picture is being plastered all over the net adjacent to the term “Junkie Chic”. With rather a lot of tabloid assistance from Rupert Murdoch. Who, funnily enough, owns the Australian license to Vogue.

According to this snippet headed “Junkie Chic” in The New York Post’s Page Six gossip column yesterday, adjacent to a photograph of Trunfio:

“AMY Winehouse is hardly a role model, but Guess? is inspired by the drugged-out singer. A rep for Nicole Trunfio, the new face of the line, told Page Six her look "mimics the singer's iconic thick black eyeliner and infamous beehive, adding a little rock and roll to their pinup image." The scorching 22-year-old catwalker is also in the new BCBG Max Azria campaign, shot by Patrick Demarchelier”.

Just do a Google web search with the terms "Junkie Chic" and "Nicole Trunfio" and you'll see how many outlets picked up the Page Six story.

These are the potential pitfalls, presumably, of being asked to channel a figure as notorious as Winehouse for a fashion job.

But it's funny how commentaries can vary.

Recently (although I can’t locate the original item, this comes via a cut-and-paste job in TFS) the Fashionista blog picked up the Trunfio/Guess story, with this scan of a Guess? ad as well as these kinds words to say about Trunfio:

“The new Guess? ads are out, and they're great, but a little bit sad.

After all, if Amy Winehouse were healthy, she'd look exactly like this picture of a sultry beehived babe, as embodied by Aussie model Nicole Trunfio”.


And perhaps I’m not looking in the right places, however I can’t seem to find the words “Junkie Chic” splashed all over the net next to Coco Rocha’s name.

That's in spite of the fact that Rocha, a top Canadian model, recently appeared in no less than a Chanel campaign styled up to look very much like Winehouse:

Was Winehouse the muse for Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld?

On yes indeedy - well at least, as it happens, according to yet another Murdoch-owned tabloid on the other side of the pond.

On December 10, on the occasion of Chanel’s Paris-Londres pre-Fall 2008 fashion presentation in London, The Sun newspaper headlined its Chanel coverage with:

And then quoted Lagerfeld on his muse for the show’s styling, which included heavy cat’s eye eyeliner and beehive dos à la Winehouse.

Lagerfeld told The Sun:
“She’s a style icon.

“She is a beautiful, gifted artist. And I very much like her hairdo. I took it as an inspiration. Because, in fact, it was also Brigitte Bardot’s hairdo in the late 50s and 60s. And now Amy has made it her own style.

“So, when I saw her, I knew it was the right moment. Amy . . . she is the new Brigitte.’”

Neryl Walker: Censored by Angostura, blessed by Coca Cola

nip slip - neryl walker

And you thought it was (erstwhile graphic designer) Natalie Bloom behind the Bloom illustrations all this time? As it emerges, the hand behind all those kawaii cartoons on Bloom's cosmetic packaging – and notably the brand’s iconic character, Miss Bloom - is another Melburnian. I chanced upon Neryl Walker whilst researching illustrators – and was interested to read about her latest work.

The Neryl Walker website has a portfolio of work and a client list which reads something like this:

Nippon Vogue
Korean Vogue
Glamour Germany
Travel and Leisure
New York magazine
New Woman (UK)
Ellegirl (UK)
Luci (Japan)
Chronicle Books
Walter Foster Publishing
Schurman Fine Papers
Harper Collins
Simon and Schuster
Allen and Unwin
The Ink Group

illustration for bloom cosmetics

Evidently however this is just a snapshot of Walker's clients.

On May 4th Walker launched her own blog, on which she discusses recent projects.

There is some artwork commissioned by Coca Cola for “tees and glasses” for the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

Walker nominates this illo as her favourite:

Then there is this recent gig for Angostura (pictured top ^) which Walker reports fell by the wayside due to a wardrobe malfunction – although one apparently initiated by Josephine Baker on this specific occasion, and not Janet Jackson.

Notes Walker on her blog:

“This was going to be used for an Angostura ad, but the nipple proved too much. The image was approved through the entire creative process without any hiccups and then deemed too racy after I completed the illustration. Good one. Censorship blows”.

There's no other store - for anyone over 18 - like David Jones

the david jones summmer 2008 show invitation

In what could be a first for Australian fashion, David Jones has banned under-18 models from its upcoming Summer 2008 showcase. That’s what model agents, and David Jones’ own fashion director Kelvin Harries told The Adelaide Advertiser yesterday, during Adelaide castings for DJs' big August 5 show which is coming up in Sydney.

Model agencies were obliged to provide written confirmation that models were over 18 and the models themselves asked to bring ID to the castings.

Harries is quoted as saying:
“Eighteen to 35 is the target audience and (we) need girls to reflect that”.

One unnamed industry source is quoted as saying that it’s the first time they can recall an under-18 ban.

It’s certainly the first occasion that I can think of. And it seems bizarre, given the big hoo-haa David Jones has made in recent years over the multimillion dollar upgrade of its youth-focussed first floor, not to mention the appointment of numerous “Youth Ambassadors” as young as 15, including Abbey Lee Kershaw and Samantha Harris.

The move follows hot on the heels of a spate of 2008 underage modelling controversies.

Firstly, the babymodel brouhaha at Australian Fashion Week which erupted after organiser IMG announced it would bring out Polish model Monika Jagaciak as the face of the event.

Initially there was no controversy at all, even after The Sunday Telegraph published a sexed-up image of Jagaciak: in full makeup, with lips parted and reclining on a spa bath, her white swimsuit moistened by shower jets. The shot was a PR handout from IMG.

On my Fully Chic blog, I subsequently pointed out that Jagaciak had been 13 at the time the image was taken. The blog erupted.

Vogue - which had used a 15 year-old girl on its cover in 2007 – then cancelled its cover shoot with Jagaciak. Two days later all under-16 models were banned from the event altogether.

In early May David Jones dropped legal action against the Australia Institute, over the latter’s 2006 paper Corporate Paedophilia: Sexualisation of Children in Australia. The Institute had accused several large local retailers, including David Jones, of exploiting children in marketing material.

Later that month, Australian photographer Bill Henson became embroiled in a child pornography scandal over images of naked teenagers in an exhibition at Sydney’s Rosyln Oxley 9.

The Henson obscenity investigation was dropped, however the child porn debate erupted again earlier this month when Art Australia used an image of a naked five year old girl on its cover in protest over the Henson debacle.

This week federal arts minister Peter Garrett proposed the establishment of a set of protocols for the artistic depiction of children.

Miranda Kerr features on David Jones' Summer 2008 show invitation (pictured above^) and she will of course be front and centre at the August 5 show.

The irony of a ban on under-18s will presumably not be lost on her.

In 1997, Kerr won the Dolly Magazine/Impulse Model Competition and was flown to Sydney to shoot for the magazine one week before her 14th birthday – prompting an outcry from the Australian media over the sexualisation of children.

Could the real issue here be that, in the challenging economic climate of 2008 – which has seen David Jones lose almost half its market value – cash-strapped young women have simply stopped buying David Jones’ clothes?

Irrespective of who is, or who is not, buying, frockwriter hears that David Jones may be dramatically cutting its show budget this season - by cancelling the regular touring fashion showcase.

Traditionally, once the big Sydney and Melbourne presentations have taken place, an entire month of dozens of smaller shows then roll out across the David Jones flagships in almost every state. Shows run several times a day, over several days, in each store.

This year, the Sydney show on August 5, followed by one in Melbourne the following week, are it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Simon Wood - global authority on kicks

sneaker freaker

My Australian content in the June/July issue of WWD FAST - a youth-nosed sportswear magazine - includes a profile on photographer Joan Cameron Smith, some cool fashion product from Andrea & Joen and Marnie Skillings - and a full-page feature on Melbourne-based Sneaker Freaker founder Simon "Woody" Wood (^).

Wood's magazine has emerged as the sneaker bible, with Wood himself sought out for several sneaker collaboration projects.

The cover of issue #11 (below) shows the new Puma x Sneaker Freaker Blaze of Glory colab shoe which was released in April.

Here are some bits and pieces from the original iv which did not go into FAST:

Wood on the magazine's 2002 launch:

“The sort of community aspect didn’t exist then. And I think that’s where the magazine’s strength is. It sort of unites people. You can be into Nike, you can be into Puma, you can be into Adidas...but the magazine is relatively even-handed. I noticed on the opening night, we just let people know. We didn’t even have an email list. And I think 300 or 400 people turned up. That’s when I realized there were a whole lot of other guys, just like me, who were really into their shoes. And they were all so amazed that someone had actually done something.

“We didn’t have anything to model ourselves on. Seven years later, there’s so much in the way of online content. But there was nothing out there. I think there were about three or four websites about sneakers. So we might have been in the first half dozen of those. There’s probably, I don’t know, 2000 sneaker sites now. It’s crazy”.

The magazine's mission statement:

“There’s this age gap between the younger kids who are coming into it and anyone who is in their 30s who remembers these shoes from when they were kids. A lot of our articles are about educating kids about why the shoes were created, what they were used for, the athlete endorsements, what was happening in fashion at the time…. That’s why the Andre Agassi shoe was white/fluoro/pink/black, because he used to wear crazy, acid-wash denim outfits and had a peroxided kind of mullet. We’re sort of creating a history for 30 years of shoe design. It’s a fascinating subject because it is about sport, about fashion, about the fact that kids in Japan were really going crazy for this one thing and then it then gets exported to Europe and then America… Japanese streetwear is a splinter of that. It’s the most dominant force in fashion today. I think every company has a designer going to Japan and just basically ripping off everything that they see right now”.

The sneaker boom:

“Certainly in the last two years, the number of product developments has just gone through the roof. So there’s probably another half a dozen to twelve fads that have been brought back form the dead from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Brands like Troop, SPX… people are getting the licenses again and joining in the boom. It’s a bit like when a gold rush happens or the mining industry goes off in western Australia. Everyone kind of flocks in there and has a go. We’ve just seen so much product. To a large extent I suppose that’s also to do with the affordability of manufacturing in south east Asia, that’s a lot cheaper. But shoes are getting more expensive to make so it’s an interesting time”.

Sneakers which should never have seen the light of day:
“Pretty much every Skecher. I think as I’ve matured into my role as an editor, I’m able to step outside my own feelings and look at something. There are shoes that I’ll never understand and wear. Anything that is very slimline for example”.

On the made-in-Australia factor:
“They [many industry players] are surprised that something of that quality can come from somewhere that’s not America or Europe. On some issues we say where we’re from and on some we don’t. Often all it says is, ‘Made in Melbourne’. It has our website on the front cover and that’s it. We don’t feel like we haven’t been accepted because of it. But it makes us kind of exotic as well”.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Is Micky the new Kylie?

ford models europe

Blink and there's a new Paris-based popette yapping at the veterans' Louboutins. This one's a model. Oh - and she's Australian.

Taking a moment's respite from our models-who-blog series, comes models-who-sing. And yes I know Irina Lazareanu is collaborating with Sean Lennon, Patti Smith and Pete Doherty on a folk album called Some Place Along The Way that is due out in September, but I want to talk about Micky Green.

Micky who?

I did a similar double take when I spotted her name, nationality and photo a few weeks ago in dispatches from the front row of Chanel's haute couture FW0809 show in Paris.

As it emerges, the 23 year-old artiste formerly known as Michaela Gehrmann was born and raised in Sydney but took off for Paris at the age of 18. At which point she began to model.

Repped at some stage by Viviens in Australia, Gehrmann is still listed on the Ford Models Europe website, with what looks like a recent portfolio of tear sheets and magazine covers (above and below) - most of them in French.

Having reportedly played the drums in a band in highschool, Gehrmann has been writing songs since she was a teenager and recorded her first demos on her computer.

After hooking up with French producer Renaud Letang (Feist, Peaches, Manu Chao, Jamie Lidell), she released her first album 'White T-Shirt' in August last year through Polydor/Universal Music France.

French newspaper Libération called it "la surprise de la rentrée".

Judging by the score of Micky Green YouTube and other videos that have been taken from various French tv shows and music festivals, the catchy singles 'Oh' and 'Shoulda' (which you can listen to on her MySpace page) seem to have become minor cult hits in France.

White T-Shirt will be released in Germany on August 1st, with the single 'Oh' due to bow in that market on Friday.

Stand by to see if Micky Green now takes flight around the rest of Europe - as did Kylie Minogue.

A sophomore album is in the pipeline.

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