Style.com had an interview last week with Samantha McMillen, who is stylist to 16 year old Elle Fanning, and when asked if she tries to keep it age appropriate when dressing someone so young for the red carpet, she first made the valid point that “Truthfully, there aren’t that many 16-year-olds out there who regularly have access to haute couture, so the term “age-appropriate” when it comes to fashion kind of makes me laugh.” But she went to say to say:
“Yes. I just try not to age them or put them in anything that would draw attention to an area on their bodies that people shouldn’t be focusing on.”
So when a host of very young stars took to the red carpet for Canada’s MuchMusic Video Awards, that quote came flooding back to me when I saw what the MMVAs hosts had worn.
It seems noted authors, and junior members of the Kardashian Klan, Kendall, 18, and Kylie Jenner, 16, wanted all the focus on a certain part of their anatomies last weekend, as one of these dresses appears to be a strong breeze away from exposing that part and the other has all the subtlety of a flashing neon arrow pointing to it, and I don’t know why I’m even surprised, but I feel so awful for them that at such young ages they’re so desperate to seem all grown up.
From an aesthetic point of view I find Kendall’s Fausto Puglisi dress to be the most offensive, and it’s difficult to articulate why without getting into a pretty contentious area, so I need you to trust me when I say, I am not slut-shaming Kendall Jenner for wearing a dress that wants us all to think she is two seconds away from flashing her vagina at us, because I’m pretty sure she’s not. I’ll bet there’s tape and a modesty panel, maybe even a specially constructed body stocking under there making sure that’s not going to happen.
I am however, fug-shaming the designer for conceiving a dress that wants us to think the wearer is two seconds away from flashing her vagina at us. I am fug-shaming him for designing a dress that exposes such an unappealing expanse of flesh, for ignoring the accepted rules concerning elegant proportions and for the attempted wit of adding ecclesiastical touches to a very revealing dress. I’m fug-shaming Kendall Jenner too, for wearing it, and I’m side-eying her attention seeking impulse, which I know she can’t help because it’s in her DNA, but if this dress had one thigh-high slit she wouldn’t be wearing it, and that’s because the rest of the dress is too mature for an 18 year old. I’d bet my house that the only thing about this that appealed to her was the headline grabbing potential of two waist high slits and no knickers, but she is 18, and she can show off as much or as little of her body as she likes. At 16, the same might not apply to her sister.
Regular readers will know that short, tight and sparkly is not my thing, but leaving that aside, I’m just appalled by this choice. This girl is 16, and this dress is designed to be both super revealing and highly suggestive, with the nude panels strategically placed to just about protect her modesty while clearly revealing that she’s not wearing underwear. The curved lines are designed to outline and accentuate the figure, and that dark V shaped panel over the crotch frankly makes my skin crawl when the crotch in question belongs to a 16 year old girl. If this dress was on Jennifer Lopez I’d still hate it, but I’d hate it because it’s an ugly dress, not because it’s too suggestive.
Which is not the case with this Alon Livne jumpsuit that she wore during the show, that could potentially be a knockout on the right woman at the right event, but again is just way too much for a 16 year old girl. This whole showing would be a “sack the stylist” moment if I didn’t suspect that these dresses were hand picked for them by their mother, as she pushes them down the path of exploiting their sexuality for the purposes of lining her pockets. And it makes me sad, because she’s already raking in the cash by milking her adult daughters for all they’re worth, so what’s the rush? Why can’t she just let these girls be girls, because they have the rest of their lives to be
cash cows women.
Which is something I wish all sixteen year olds would realise. If you live to the ripe old age of 90, you’ll have had roughly one fifth of your life to enjoy being a girl, and then, trust me, you’ll spend the other four fifths chasing the youth you may well have squandered trying to dress and act beyond your years. As the saying goes, youth is wasted on the young, because they don’t know when they’ve got it good, and you’ve got it good when you can wear a dress like this…
and look like this in it. It’s hard to believe Kiernan Shipka, my beloved Kiernan Shipka in Marni, is just a year younger than Kylie Jenner, because this dress, her fresh face and barely-there make up, her whole demeanour is the antithesis to the overdone, hyper-sexualised presence of the Jenner girls.
Like everything she wears, it perfectly straddles the line of age appropriateness for a 15 year old, even if that is an absurd notion because it’s difficult to call a $3,000 dress “age appropriate” for a 15 year old, no matter what it looks like.
But this simple, softly draped Marni, is perfect on her. I’m done with peplums, so I love the unexpected two-tiered effect of this flounce, which, together with the beading, makes it playful enough to be youthful, but not so structured that it feels too mature for her.
Also playing it age-appropriate for her 17 years, but a tad on the dull side for someone we know can be more adventurous than this, is Chloe Moretz in Marios Schwab.
I think I’d like it better if it was either more, or less detailed, because the ring of flowers around the neck feels incongruous with the lace and the straps, and a few sparsely placed embellishments look unnecessary, whereas as more of them might have a stronger effect.
But I’m happy the dress is drawing attention to her neck and not some other part of her body, so let’s quit that while we’re ahead.
Also present was the world’s most enigmatic 17 year old, Lorde, who borrowed her suit from Kellan Lutz and her hat from Lydia Deetz, for a unique look that was very 80s Diane Keaton. And I can’t argue with that.
No longer 17, yet perpetually 17, Jedward were there! And they’re really shiny now!
And also, still so very Jedward.
The clock is ticking on these two, and it won’t be long before their schtick gets officially creepy, but in the meantime it’s good to know we can rely on some things staying the same in this crazy world.
Moving on to the grannies, 25 year old Shenae Grimes wore one of my favourite looks of the night. Her Kooples outfit is great, but that brocade blazer in particular is killing me with lust.
That she went matchy matchy with her husband (25 year olds with husbands. Only in Hollywood!) is very Kooplesy of them, but the shoes are overkill.
And the positively ancient Jenna Malone (who’s 30 in real life, which is 92 in teenage years) wore a nice two-piece from Paper London.
Those bust darts are odd enough to be Prada, but I love the colour, the sheen and the minimalism. It’s a look that’s cool enough to be down with the kids, revealing enough to be edgy, but at the same time chic enough to be worn by those of us who are now over 100 years old. All of which goes to show, when it comes to being age appropriate, you can definitely think outside the box – but when it comes to dressing yours, don’t take your fashion lead from anyone that came out of Kris Jenner’s.