Sunday, March 7, 2010

Preview of ‘Fabulous’ Magazine UK, April issue

‘Bullied for being uncool - now girls want my style’

She’s the fash pack’s latest muse, but Gossip Girl’s Taylor Momsen reveals how her edgy look was inspired by classroom mean girls.

Taylor Momsen is not your regular teen starlet. The actress best known for her role as Jenny Humphrey in Gossip Girl is not old enough to drink alcohol, drive a car or buy cigarettes (even if she does smoke them) but she’s got the ambition and attitude of a showbiz veteran - not surprising given that she has been acting since she was three. Yes, you read that right, people. Three.

In fact, just one look at her CV is enough to give even the most accomplished child genius an inferiority complex. She may be sweet 16, but she has already made her name in one of TV’s most popular teen dramas to date, is a lead singer in a punk rock band and has been feted as Hollywood’s hottest fashionista, with designers falling over themselves to dress her. They know that what Taylor is pictured wearing today will become tomorrow’s latest trend. So it makes perfect (style) sense that fashion’s latest muse fronts our new-season special.

But not everyone is a fan of Ms Momsen’s edgy look. Some conservative types have lambasted Taylor’s love of long socks, grungy tops and barely-there skirts, saying she’s a poor role model for her teen fans. Not that she’s bothered.

“Clothes are a form of self-expression. I don’t care what other people think,” she says. “I’ve had lots of people say I’m disgraceful because I should act like a role model for other young kids but I’m not a role model. I’m an actress, I’m a singer and I don’t want to be a role model. If you like me that’s fantastic - but if you don’t, stop giving me a hard time.”

When we finally catch up with her (it’s taken five days to pin her down) it’s in the back of her chauffeur-driven car in New York en route from a Gucci fitting to a night out with friends from her band, The Pretty Reckless.

“I’ve always been into my own look and love what I wear,” she says. “I’m not like a lot of other actresses. I don’t use a stylist and mostly do my own hair and make-up. When I get dressed up I always wear what I want to. Fashion is a big part of me but I always believe it’s not what but how you wear clothes.

“I’m not some cute girl that’s been stamped out of a Disney studio and I’m proud of that. Some people like me for it, others hate it. I’m used to that. I’ve had it all my life.”

A teen tantrum this is not. Taylor’s defensive for good reason. She was just three when she started to act professionally, six when she made her big-screen debut alongside Dennis Hopper in the thriller The Prophet’s Game and seven when she got the part as the lead little girl in the Jim Carrey movie The Grinch.

You would expect that such amazing parts at such a young age would have been the sign of a charmed life, but Taylor - who grew up in Missouri with parents Michael and Colette and younger sister Sloane, 13, and then moved to New York aged 12 - shakes her head. “I didn’t have a great childhood,” she says. “I loved my family, I loved my work but I hated school. I had a really bad time. Other kids didn’t like me. I didn’t fit in.

“Maybe a lot of people think I have a great life. I do in lots of ways, but believe me it’s been pretty tough. I know a lot of girls couldn’t handle everything I’ve been through.

“The way I am in my attitude, my clothes, my music is all to do with what has happened to me in my life so far. I do what I choose, I wear what I choose, I sing what I choose and I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I’ve had to learn to get tough enough to be like this but it’s the way I have to be.

“I was made fun of all the time - the other kids used to taunt me religiously. I never had a best friend.”

It’s undoubtedly this that has led to her “trust complexes” and she’s said in the past she’s only close to two people. “My life was just not normal. I was in commercials, I was in TV series, then I was the Grinch Girl.”

And it was a hint of the wild dress sense that got her noticed more recently which set her apart from the rest of her peers too. “I dressed differently. I definitely wasn’t a fashion icon at school,” she admits.

“I used to always wear knee-high socks and I got teased all the time. Girls would point at them and laugh. It makes me laugh now that one of my fashion statements are my knee-high stockings. Now a lot of girls think they are pretty cool. You have to admit that’s ironic.”

These days, everyone is desperate to be Taylor’s friend, but back then those dark days were terribly lonely for her.

“I really wanted a friend but it just never happened,” she explains. “I didn’t get talked to or invited anywhere. I never got hit or anything like that. It was much more snidey and personal.

“I also never got asked out once at school. I was the weird one. Maybe people thought I was stuck up, maybe they thought I was above them. I wasn’t.

“I was very, very unhappy at school so I moved schools a lot which didn’t help matters. I guess my parents and I thought that I’d finally find somewhere where I’d be OK. But it was the same story.”

It’s clear that Taylor is nothing like the social climbing, squeaky-clean character she plays in ITV2’s super-cool US series Gossip Girl. She started out on the show when she was 13 and over three years transformed her preppy innocent character into a bit of a rock chick.

“I started dressing myself for events,” says Taylor. “The producers noticed and wanted to incorporate that into Jenny’s wardrobe, so I was very lucky. Now if someone doesn’t like what I’m wearing, I don’t care.”

But does that extend to her nearest and dearest? Ask Taylor how her mum reacts when she steps out in revealing outfits like the black stockings and suspenders combo she wore at the Teen Vogue Block Party in New York last September, and she laughs. “There are a few occasions when she raises her eyebrows but she never tells me to get changed,” she says.

It comes as little surprise that Taylor’s role models are outrageous rock stars. “I love people like Joan Jett and Kurt Cobain. But what I love is more about their attitude than what they wear.

“I don’t copy anyone in how I dress,” she insists. “It bugs me when people say I’m the next Courtney Love. Number one I’ve never been a heroin addict like she used to be, and number two I don’t look anything like her.”

And Taylor - who recently collaborated with US designer Jen Kao to create tour outfits for her band - doesn’t take her role as a fashionista remotely for granted.

“I’m so amazingly lucky because I get to go to fashion shows, I have designers giving me clothes and I can pick what I want,” she says.

“But I mix everything up to put my mark on it. If a designer gives me a dress I may hem it up to make it shorter - I’ll make it how I want it. I’m 16, I have an opinion and I think I can go out and do what I want and wear what I want. I want to inspire other girls to follow their own ideas and not care what other people think.”

And like the big names before her - Agyness Deyn, Alexa Chung, Lily Allen and Pixie Geldof - Taylor recently bagged a contract as the face of New Look. But she’s not just modelling the clothes. This is an opportunity to put her style spin on the whole collection.

“The cool thing about the campaign was wearing clothes with my twist,” says Taylor, who is currently single and who has commented in the past that she would “eat a boy my age alive”.

“I don’t dress for men, I don’t dress for boys, I don’t dress for women or other girls. I dress for me.”

With so many years ahead of her Taylor knows only one thing about the future - that she’ll be doing fashion her way. “I don’t know how I’ll be dressing when I’m 20 or 30, but I know it’ll be my style and it won’t be boring.

“I absolutely love fashion because it reflects who you are,” she says. “When I was a kid I always used to think: ‘What would I save if my house was on fire?’ Even now it would have to be my rag doll, but it would also be my guitar and my vintage leather jacket.” A style statement if ever there was one.



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