“My first post on Style Rookie was actually March 31, 2008—10 years ago. I guess I had sort of grown up with the internet to that point—obviously not anywhere near kids today, which is crazy because I’m not that much older. It didn’t seem like a big thing to me just to start a blog. I knew I liked style more than fashion because it would be more personal, and it wouldn’t really be about trends or anything. But I also thought, because the point was that I was just documenting my discoveries as I went along, something kind of modest like ‘Rookie’ made sense, or ‘Style Rookie.’ And then, years later when I started Rookie the online magazine, I was resistant because I didn’t know what to call it, and I didn’t want to do something that seemed self-referential. But all of our contributors were like, ‘Rookie is just such a good name,’ and it’s perfect for a teen magazine because it’s obviously someone just starting out, but it’s not precious. Everything else we could think of was sort of twee, and Rookie is a little more bold. And it was in my DNA.
And the internet’s also changed—six years ago when Rookie started, it was far more possible for something to just be good and reach people. Now social platforms control everything. These are not revelations, this is just what the industry looks like right now. So I’ve become a more realistic decision maker, whereas when I was younger, understandably so, I think a lot of decisions I made felt really symbolic. Back then, I was so resistant to understanding business or publishing as an industry because I just wanted us to be able to make what we wanted. We still can, but it was also a real privilege to be able to be such a purist when I was younger, because lots of people don’t grow up like that.
I’m really glad that I have the parents that I do. I think it could’ve been a disaster if they were in any way opportunists, or had any interest in fashion or publishing or theater, or anything else I do, beyond being happy audience members. I remember the first time there was like, a take-down of me, I was 12, and it was a New York Mag article saying it was probably a hoax, I probably wasn’t really writing it myself, either I was lying about my age or my parents were doing it. My dad gave me a story by Harvey Swados called “Claudine’s Book” about a girl who is 12, and her aunt finds a bunch of diaries she’s been keeping. She sends them to a publisher in New York, they get published. Claudine gets a lot of media attention, some reporters come to her town to write an exposé because they expect that it is a hoax, and Claudine is so tired of the attention, and sees fame as a sort of sickness or a sort of spell you can come under, and so she tells the reporters that it was a hoax and sort of whistles a tune and goes up to her tree house. [I never wanted to do that], because I’m also a performer, and I think the way I see fame and power and money is that it gives you more choice and more freedom as long as you’re not compromising your morals to gain it. I want to have as many options as I can. When I was younger, I was a purist because I was armoring myself against being taken advantage of. Now, I’m just trying to recreate that feeling with anything creative I do. Being able to create a world, control it, or not control it, which is what acting requires.
If I had more time in the day I think I would probably read, or call a friend, before I would look at more fashion stuff. The things that I read regularly are really the New Yorker and then the New York Review of Books. And then there are newsletters I get, like The Times Daily Briefing, or Recode, because I like tech news. I really only use technology to post—I feel like if there’s something happening with one of my friends, I’ll learn because we talk in real life. That was the idea behind shooting with Kate Spade. The new perfume is called In Full Bloom, so the idea was to talk about moments where I felt that way, or confidence—how you build confidence. I worked with a writer there to develop scripts from some moments I thought of that made me feel ‘In Bloom.’ They were less milestones, and more like these small moments—like the way I felt after a conversation with a friend, or things like that that are a little more impactful than what you would expect. Then, on set too with Inez and Vinoodh, they would ask me questions. They’re so relaxed, and chill, and cool, and encouraging. And so that made me feel at ease, almost like a conversation instead of an interview.
When I was in middle school I would try things—like, there was a Comme des Garçons show where they wrote these words on their faces, so I went to school that way. I was so bored, I had to. [People in school] were mean, yeah. I mean, not all of them. Some guys would be like, ‘I don’t understand it!’ This one guy Qari—it’s so funny how sharply you remember things from middle school—he was like, ‘Tavi, I’m always excited to see what you’re gonna wear every day!’ And I was like, ‘Thanks Qari!’ It was maybe a third confused, a third encouraging, and a third indifferent. Now, both my beauty routine and what I wear are pretty simple, just because a lot of my creative energy ends up in what I’m writing, or something we’re doing at Rookie, or at rehearsal. But when I can, I love to have an excuse to get dressed up. Not that I think you need an excuse. I like to be a little experimental, especially with eye makeup. I also like that it’s a really good pick-me-up. Beauty is more affordable than fashion in many ways, so to be like, ‘I want to try a new thing today’ and stop at a store after work can be very exciting for me.
I’m probably the worst person to be sharing their skincare routine, though. I need to see [a facialist or dermatologist] because I don’t understand what’s going on with my skin. My approach to skincare is sort of the way with cleaning your room, you’re like, ‘Eh, it’ll just get messy again.’ It’s a not good attitude to have, but I just try to remind myself that I would really like to not wear that much makeup eventually. I use Mario Badescu Cleanser, Moisturizer, and Drying Mask. There’s also a Murad Acne Treatment Mask that I have enjoyed in the past. I listened to an interview with a dermatologist on this podcast called Glowing Up, which is just a beauty and self-care that Caroline Goldfarb and Esther Povitsky do, and [the dermatologist] was just sort of like, ‘Toner doesn’t really matter.’ Maybe it does for some people, but I just stopped using it.
At night, I use these makeup wipes from Koh Gen Do that a makeup artist gave me and then I started buying. Before that I was using Bioderma, but I like wipes more because I’m lazy. I’m out right now, but I also love the CosRX Korean stickers. They make you feel like a disco ball, but I mainly like them because they’re really satisfying to peel off in the morning. It’s just my morbid obsession with skin. But they also heal—I just put them on as soon I start to break out. I’m really trying not to be a popper. Working from home now I have no shame, I can just be a disgusting monster at my desk, but I think what makes me stop now, even though it’s really satisfying, is that it’ll be even more satisfying to put the sticker on and peel it off in the morning.
[The makeup I wore when I was younger] wasn’t like, real makeup. I think I started wearing real makeup in the middle of high school, around the time I also got contacts—I had worn glasses since I was like, eight. It was the first time that I felt like, ‘I want to feel pretty sometimes.’ I was a late bloomer. I used Clinique, just dipping my toe into it, with a nice foundation and basically drugstore everything else. I enjoy the ritual of it, and I see that it can be the same way that I see fashion, a creative outlet. I don’t have that many good tips but I definitely have tried a lot of eyeshadows.
I've used Make Up For Ever Foundation and Concealer since I was in This Is Our Youth on Broadway. But then other things like mascara, or lip stuff, I’m not that faithful to. Mascara you’re supposed to throw out pretty regularly, so I’m like, ‘Drugstore, fine.’ But I do like trying out different lip colors. Some of the ones I have are Fenty Beauty, which is obviously really fun. I got a glittery pink one. Clinique has these lip markers, the Chubby Sticks, that are pretty matte, and I like them for cheek stains, too. I like the Benefit BeneTint that you can use on lips and cheeks, and Make Up For Ever has this one liquid lip color that comes through a sponge applicator.
If I’m going to an event and I’m doing my own makeup, then I use Laura Mercier Powder on top of the Make Up For Ever Foundation and Concealer. And then with something like blush, I have a Chanel Blush that I like. With mascara and lipsticks, I’m pretty much drugstore—I like Great Lash, the one my mom used. And then Benefit’s Eyebrow Kit I like. With eyeshadows, I have all those glittery Urban Decay ones. But I’m also totally down with Wet’n’Wild glittery things. I’ll just do that with my finger.
Fragrance, more recently since moving to New York and trying to become more of a woman, I have gotten into. Byredo’s 1996 I like because Inez and Vinoodh did it, and that’s the year I was born. There are others I like—I like a floral, I like a Chanel No. 5 or a Marc Jacobs Daisy. Obviously I like In Full Bloom—it’s rose, and then it has lemon and other things going on. It’s not too flowery, it’s a really good balance. I spray in the air and walk through it, but someone told me you’re supposed to spray it up here and let it fall on you like rain. I was like, ‘I’m set in my ways.’ When I did The Crucible on Broadway, Ben Whishaw, who played John Proctor, was giving everyone witchy gifts. He gave me this Taurus Space Aroma, which I really like because it’s a little more mystic, more natural. All of the things that first came to mind were like, twig-like and forest-y, which is not appealing, but it is kind of mystic.
I’m in the market for a new cut and colorist—I haven’t done it in a while. I’m naturally dirty blonde, so when my roots grow out it’s not incredibly noticeable. When I’m back in Chicago, I usually have my friend do it, because she has a salon there called Sparrow. She has been cutting and coloring my hair forever—whenever I’m back visiting family, I try to get something from her. Her name is Bathsheba Nemerovski. In terms of styling products, I like Kevin Murphy’s styling cream—the one I have there is very intense, Nightrider, and it’s really stiff. There’s a light blue one that I’d recommend instead because it’s not that stiff but still gives it some shape. When my hair’s kind of fluffy, I use this Sparrow Essential Oil, and then I use Living Proof Hairspray if I’m doing something slicked back, or if I have some event and just don’t want it to move. In the shower, I have some sort of 3-in-1 shampoo and body wash...I got it at 365. I try to buy in bulk. I’m really minimal—that’s a nice word for it. But the truth is that I'm lazy, really."
—as told to ITG
Tavi Gevinson photographed by Tom Newton in New York on March 28, 2018.