Young Stars Deserve The Freedom Of A Red Carpet Fuck-up

A bunch of teen stars like Hailee Steinfeld and Elle Fanning are being hailed as fashion muses. And it's true, they look lovely. But nice as it is to see such good sartorial role-models for the tween set, maybe we should take the focus off them...and let them screw up.

Writes New York,

The fashion industry and child stars are having a moment. Fourteen-year-old Chloë Moretz, the profanity-spewing little girl from Kick-Ass, has paraded down red carpets decked out in Stella McCartney and Dior, while Kiernan Shipka, the 11-year-old Mad Men star, has appeared, pouty-faced, in fashion spreads in Interview and Elle (and this magazine) wearing couture YSL and Chanel and supersize Kenneth Jay Lane cocktail rings. Rodarte's Kate and Laura Mulleavy, famously choosy when it comes to muses, have adopted Elle Fanning, dressing her for events and enlisting her for their short film The Curve of Forgotten Things, a showcase of the brand's spring 2011 collection. "She's not oversexed but she can wear clothing well," Interview entertainment director Lauren Tabach-Bank said of Fanning, 12, after the magazine ran an eight-page story featuring the tween modeling the likes of 3.1 Phillip Lim, Alberta Ferretti, and Dolce & Gabbana. Vogue, meanwhile, reportedly has a Fanning-Steinfeld-Moretz portfolio in the works for an upcoming issue. It's all a far cry from poor little Anna Paquin, who accepted her 1994 Oscar in a vaguely nerdy royal-blue beanie and matching vest.

Philosophical problems aside — fashion's thirst for novelty; should we really be looking to barely pubescent girls as sartorial beacons? Why is that "wearing clothing well?" — I get why these young women are celebrated. In a world of Noah Cyrsues, it's nice to see Elles, Kiernans and Hailees. Simply put, they look elegant, tasteful, lovely. I've often praised their acumen, myself, in the confines of GBU. I'm sure anyone with kids breathes a sigh of relief whenever they see the decorous necklines and fashionable — but still age-appropriate — threads on the red carpet.

But that's the point: teens and tweens shouldn't always please their parents, and inevitably, don't. Your middle-school and high school years (or the on-set tutorial equivalent) are a time for experimenting and finding yourself. Sometimes that means Marsha Brady. But other times, it's that sack Molly Ringwald wears in Pretty in Pink. We're alarmed by a Noah Cyrus because she's embracing an adult ethos that seems inappropriate and contrived in a child of her age. But is dressing a kid her age in Chanel all that different? Sure, it may lack the inappropriate sexual overtones, but it's still an adult aesthetic, imposed on a kid.

At 12, would I have taken these designers up on free wardrobes? Heck, yes — not that they'd particularly have wanted to dress me for propping up the wall at middle-school dances. And I'd have looked a lot better than I did, too. But that's the point: those unfortunate, oversized 40s housedresses and matted hair were a part of my development. (I am not, by the way, advocating for Cyrus-esque garb here; that may be what a kid wants, but part of being a kid is also parental veto.) And the truth is, there's something kind of heartwarming about seeing a kid on the red-carpet who's clearly chosen her own outfit. And yes, maybe they'll be embarrassed in a few years and won't be hailed as a muse. But there's plenty of time for that. Even if you don't "wear the clothes" quite as well.

Dressing Younger [New York]