Fashionista, 16, Strives for 'Honest' Portrayal of Teen Psyche

PHOTO: Fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson is seen outside the Rodarte show, Feb. 14, 2012, in New York City.
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Tavi Gevinson is the pint-sized style guru who, at the age of 11, created the wildly popular blog for teenage girls, "Style Rookie."

By age 14, she was hanging out with Chanel's Karl Lagerfield and sitting front row next to Vogue's editor-in-chief Anne Wintour at New York City's Fashion Week.

Gevinson has graced magazine covers, has been the muse for the edgy Rodarte sisters' clothing line for Target, and now, at the ripe old age of 16, she has established herself as a sort of oracle for the inner workings of the teenage psyche. She even gave a talk at a TEDx conference on it.

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But at 7:30 a.m. on a Friday morning, she is just your average high school junior getting ready for school.

"I've gone to school with jeans and a sweatshirt on," she said. "I have weirder outfits that I want to wear but I save them for outside of school."

But Gevinson does lead a double life: She is a normal teenager by day and a burgeoning media mogul by night. When she launched "Rookie," her online magazine, it received 1 million views in its first week.

"It's weird to sit in school and be, like, I have a deadline, I have all of those emails I have to get back to, and only one person will see my homework, my teacher, but all of these other people will see my article," she said. "That's a weird balance to figure out."

It all started in her slightly cluttered bedroom in suburban Oak Park, Ill., which is filled with vintage accessories and pop culture paraphernalia. Gevinson gets her Bohemian looks from her mother, who is a Swedish-born artist. Her father is a retired high-school English school teacher.

Five years ago, the then-11-year-old Gevinson borrowed her dad's laptop and started posting photos of herself in eclectic, avant garde outfits in a signature funny, precocious voice. Those posts became "Style Rookie."

"I was in sixth grade," she said. "I just thought it would be fun to chronicle my interest in fashion as it was developing and changing."

Tens of thousands of clicks later, Gevinson was the toast of Fashion Week, Teen Vogue dubbed her "the luckiest 13-year-old on the planet," but she also drew snarky criticism by showing up to shows wearing eccentric pieces, like an enormous Stephen Jones bow that she wore to a Christian Dior fashion show.

"If you are a public person at all and you are aware of criticisms people have about you, you are sort of constantly worried about them being true," she said.

The latest phase of her career is expanding her horizons to talking about things beyond fashion, to arts and crafts, and essays on everything from Joni Mitchell to midnight snacking, as well as more serious topics like broken hearts, eating disorders and sexuality.

"We don't write about sex or anything for shock value," Gevinson said. "It's just because I think about the conversations I have with my friends or that I overhear and I think about what people feel like they are missing."

So what makes "Style Rookie" different from, say, "Seventeen" magazine? Gevinson said her magazine doesn't cater to what advertisers want.

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