Tavi Gevinson & Iris Apfel on 'Good Taste' at the Met


Iris Apfel Tavi Gevinson

Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Tavi Gevinson, Iris Apfel, and moderator Judith Thurman

When moderator Judith Thurman introduced 16-year-old Tavi Gevinson and 90-year-old Iris Apfel in a conversation entitled "Good Taste, Bad Taste" yesterday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she noted the nonagenarian was Tavi's age in 1938. This meeting of the minds was going to be good. And it did not disappoint. The fashion mavens and front-row fixtures talked their own personal style, self-confidence, and how they would curate the next Costume Institute exhibit.

If you were expecting to walk away with strict rules on how to emulate the women's style, you're out of luck. Apfel was very cavalier about the whole dressing process: "I do everything in a gigantic rush...I can't offer rules or information." Tavi, wearing a disco shirt from the '70s, a pentagram necklace, a skirt personally gifted to her from Miuccia Prada, did have to be a little more meticulous about her day's outfit as she packed for her visit from Chicago, but noted "the one thing that's sad to me is when fashion can become a source of stress, the way it's written about in so many women's magazines, there are rules and regulations and the idea that it's becoming something stressful or a burden is something really terrifying to me."

Something we can get behind: dressing should be fun! "You have no idea how many women in America are stressed beyond belief!" Apfel, she of the larger-than-life lenses, said. "If it's not so good, the fashion police aren't going to come and take you away and if they do you might have some fun in jail."

On the topic of good taste, Tavi: "It's pretty irrelevant. I wish people thought of taste and style like they thought of having a sense of humor. What you find funny is just what you find funny. I don't think most people would say they have a bad sense of humor because it's just what appeals to them...that should be enough to define your own style."

As for Apfel? "The really helpful thing is to not give a damn about what anyone thinks."

Tavi—editor to the online pub, Rookie—is clearly ahead of the game, and her self-esteem is something to be studied. "[Rarely] the awareness that someone is looking at me and judging me creeps into my brain and it doesn't bother me until I'm aware of it. Most of the time I'm too busy having other thoughts and things on my mind than to be aware of it. I feel like that's to trick: to be too busy, being creative or being excited about other things to care." Wisdom, imparted all over the place.

Other interesting facts we learned:

-Tavi's a fan of Meadham Kirchoff, Creatures of the Wind, and Rodarte and can speak just as fluidly about John Waters as she can about Cindy Sherman. None of those names meant anything to us when we were 16.

-Apfel cannot get any work done when she's dressed up. "Most of my life is spent in jeans. when you encase yourself in something, you have certain barriers," she said. (Related: Tavi puts on pajamas as soon as she gets home from school.)

-On the heels of her "hideously successful" MAC collaboration, the self-described "oldest living teenager" (sorry, Dick Clark) expects women tiring of what she considers pervasive ageism in the beauty industry to soon revolt: "There's a big, big undercover revolution that's going to break out soon." (Unrelated: "smashing" is a preferred word.)

-The two think an "Advanced Style"-type of exhibit, focusing on senior style, for Costume Institute would be excellent. (We agree.) "I think that would be a very healing show," Apfel said.

We're feeling better already.

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