Coming of Age

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Coming of AgeCamille Vivier

Turning 25 has been maligned as a milestone; at some point over the last few decades, pop psychology branded the age as a time for a “quarter-life crisis” over becoming an adult. But 25 is an age when you really come into your own, to start giving serious thought to who you are and who you want to be. Uncertainties begin to wane, and a self-assurance starts to emerge in how you approach the world and express yourself. It’s a process that lasts long after you blow out 25 candles and one that actors Jordan Alexander and Grace Van Patten, dancer Erica Lall, and writer Tahereh Mafi have all found themselves exploring. Each will tell you that they look back on past style choices and cringe, bewildered by what they were once enamored with. But they’ll also say that that’s part of the journey—and one of many things that make fashion so fun and alluring. As Alexander says: “You can wake up every morning and decide who you want to be.”

Style is an essential avenue for self-discovery, and there are certain pieces that can serve as a touchstone—a throughline along the journey. The Fendi Baguette, which this year turns 25, clearly has the staying power to serve as a constant companion piece. Designed by Silvia Venturini Fendi, the now-iconic bag debuted in 1997, and in a blink it was everywhere: on the laps of editors sitting front row at Fashion Week, slung over Carrie Bradshaw’s shoulder as she embraced life in New York on Sex and the City, completing the enviable outfits of fashionable women from London to L.A.

For a piece of fashion to withstand countless trend cycles demonstrates remarkable endurance. As era-defining piece clocks 25, Alexander, Lall, Mafi, and Van Patten each reflect on the style lessons they’ve learned over the years, their biggest fashion influences, and what you’ll find in their Fendi Baguettes.

Jordan Alexander, 29

Musician and Actress

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Fendi clothing and accessories.Camille Vivier
fendi
Fendi clothing and accessories.Camille Vivier

What would 25-year-old Jordan think of the life you’re living right now?

Well, that was before I even started pursuing acting again. I was doing music, and I was very content with my life as kind of a starving artist. So I think that 25-year-old Jordan would be losing their mind. This [career] was definitely not something I thought I was going to be exposed to, and I had kind of accepted that. I was like, “Okay, I play in bars for beer; we’re fine.” So [my life] is definitely on the far end of unimaginable.

Have you always embraced fashion, or is it something that you’ve grown to appreciate recently?

I’ve definitely grown to appreciate a different aspect of fashion, that of really beautiful designer and art-based fashion that you see a lot on the runways. Before, I was using fashion to express myself, but through different avenues—maybe through thrift-store pieces. Now it’s fun to have more things to play with. And it’s really incredible, the ideas that people have about clothes and all of the emotion that’s attached to them. It isn’t just fashion. It’s feeling. It’s history. It’s nostalgia and the things that we love about human existence.

What do you always have in your handbag?

I tend to have a notebook inside of whatever bag I’m carrying. I really love writing music and lyrics, so I try to keep one on me at all times for when inspiration strikes.

How would you describe your personal style?

Eclectic. Sometimes I’m into looking very high-fashion and chic and feminine, and then sometimes I want to look a little bit more rough and grungy. Style is fun. You can wake up every morning and decide who you’re going to be.

I want to be ever-evolving, and questioning my beliefs and my perspective, and always morphing and accepting new information and discarding things that no longer apply.

For the most part, I feel like I find myself being quite minimal and comfort based. So my personal style is pretty comfort based, and I like a quite minimal look. But every once in a while—I’d say once every three months—I like to do something just truly bizarre and really make a spectacle.

How did you settle on your current haircut?

It’s a very clean look, and I feel like it lets my face come through. Sometimes, if I have hair, I feel like I get lost behind it. You can look super put-together just rolling out of bed with a shaved head, and I really, really appreciate that convenience. I’m a very low-maintenance person.

Fashion can be really overwhelming. What is your advice to those who are trying to figure out their personal style?

As much as I try to dive right in, I’m still learning so much from being on Gossip Girl and going to fashion shows. I’m a person who’s overwhelmed, so this is my advice for myself: Just be really patient. You may have an embarrassing outfit, but who cares? It’s all part of your growth. And I think that the more you are patient with yourself, the more you’ll be able to evolve and get a stronger sense of how you want to dress, how you want to present yourself, and what pieces really work for you.

Erica Lall, 24

Dancer with American Ballet Theatre

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Fendi clothing and accessories.Camille Vivier

You grew up in Houston. How has living in New York influenced your personal style?

Until I moved to New York, I didn’t really know how to piece things together. I would see fashionable people and be like, “Wow, how did they do that?” Coming here, I noticed that really anything goes. If you’re carrying yourself with confidence, whatever you put on works, you know? So I think New York made me a little less afraid to be different. It also made me want to embrace my natural hair. I had been relaxing my hair since I was nine. I remember my ballet teachers saying, “Your hair can’t be frizzy; it needs to be slicked back,” but that’s not my natural texture. When I moved to New York at 15, I grew out my natural hair and found that I can still do slick hairstyles. I just never knew. I didn’t grow up seeing a lot of dancers with natural hair like mine.

Has ballet impacted the way you dress?

Definitely. I’m at the studio pretty much every day, so I have to have an outfit that can work going to and from dance. Combat boots and a jacket are my signatures these days. I love combat boots because I’m a little short and they give me a bit of a heel, and I feel like a jacket pulls my outfits together. In ballet, I’m very drawn to bright colors. Whenever I’m in rehearsal, I’m the brightest person in the studio. I’m always wearing 95 different colors, but they somehow work.

What are you most looking forward to about turning 25?

I feel like 25 will be my year. I struggled during the pandemic, especially seeing social injustice everywhere. And I also struggled in the ballet world, realizing that there is still considerable resistance to change and not quite knowing how to navigate that. But I feel fortunate to be where I am now, and I look forward to 25. I feel like I’m really taking charge of my life and my destiny.

Let’s say you’re going to dinner with friends. What essentials are you carrying in your Fendi Baguette?

I always need lip gloss, and I always have floss because I’m super conscious about things being stuck in my teeth. Of course, my phone, and I usually carry some sort of crystal around. I have a million crystals, so I’ll choose one for the day and put it in my bag. I’ll also have hair ties, some hairpins, and my MetroCard.

Who are the most stylish people in your life?

I see Misty [Copeland] in great fashion quite often. Whenever there’s a big event, I’m like “Hey, babe, can I borrow something?” so she’s been a big inspiration to me. Also, my best friend, Melvin, is the most fashionable person I know. If I ever need some style advice, I ask him. If I need to go shopping, he’s right there with me.

Tahereh Mafi, 34

Author

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Fendi clothing and accessories.Camille Vivier
fendi for harper's bazaar 2022
Fendi clothing and accessories.Camille Vivier

Throughout your life, who have your style icons been?

When I was growing up, I’m not sure I ever had any major style icons. I grew up as a visibly Muslim woman who wears a hijab, in a society that never reflected that experience back at me. I never saw myself in the world, so I found it kind of hard to identify with many of the major fashion icons. I think there was this subconscious part of me that felt like I could never aspire to that. But I think style and fashion are completely linked with confidence. Beautiful clothes mean little to me without confidence, and I’ve always interpreted confidence to include humility and compassion and grace. So my major icon—the woman I most looked up to in this regard—was my mom, who always carried herself with confidence and dignity.

Is there any style advice you would give your 25-year-old self?

My 20s were such a turbulent and exciting and transformative time for me, both emotionally and style-wise. I was really drawn to bright colors and fabrics and patterns and textures. I would love to go back in time and tell myself that I made a lot of bad choices, but I also think that it was important for me to have fun and experiment during that time. It was in that process that I discovered what I really love and which patterns and styles and textures really worked for me. So I think I have to give myself grace. There are so many outfits that I wore in my 20s that I look back on and I’m like, “Oh, that was awful,” but that’s part of the journey.

How would you describe your personal style today?

My personal style is inextricably linked to my emotional state. My 20s were kind of tumultuous emotionally. But in my 30s I feel a lot calmer and more at peace. I find myself drawn to softer textiles and softer colors. For me, fashion has been a kind of armor, but that armor is softening as I get older.

Unfortunately, the idea of fashion is sometimes seen as something that’s impractical, but I believe that one of the beautiful things about style is that it can adapt with you. You can always find the meeting place where form and fashion find each other. Now, as a mother of a five-year-old, I have to be a lot more practical in my style choices. It’s amazing to me how much room there is in the fashion world for me to be flexible and pragmatic but still feel like I’m polished and put together. What I gravitate toward now are elevated basics—a simple uniform of a shirt, jeans, and shoes, but comfortable and a little special. Maybe the top has some sparkle, or maybe it’s got a cool collar or an embroidered detail. These things help make my everyday style feel a little more elevated.

What’s the appeal of the Fendi Baguette?

The Fendi Baguette first came into my consciousness as a preteen. And I remember this vividly because I always admired it from afar. It was definitely out of reach for me at the time, but I really loved it.

I think what’s amazing about it is that it’s the perfect every-occasion bag. It comes in so many different colors and textures and patterns. It’s the kind of bag that you can throw on with a simple outfit and run to the grocery store with, or you can wear it with a beautiful dress and hit a black-tie affair.

What’s the most sentimental item in your wardrobe?

I have a T-shirt that I’ve had since I was five years old. It’s a pinkish-reddish T-shirt with a picture of a real horse and a rocking horse and a little heart above their heads. I still look at it fondly because I moved around so much growing up that I own almost nothing from my childhood. I lost a lot of things in all the moves, and it’s taken me a long time to get to a place where I’ve begun to feel sentimental about objects. Now, as an adult, I’m beginning to hold on to things more.

As a writer of young-adult fiction, what do you hope readers take away from your work?

First and foremost, the thing I’m trying to do with the books I write is to communicate to young people that their pain matters. I think many of us, but, for sure, me—I grew up feeling like the adults in my life didn’t always acknowledge my pain. We often dismiss or diminish the pain of young people because we think that their problems or their feelings aren’t big enough. And I think I’m always trying to give them a safe space to feel and to be acknowledged.

Do you have a go-to book-signing outfit?

It depends on how I’m feeling. If I’m feeling nervous, I’ll gravitate toward an outfit that I feel very comfortable in, which is often a bodysuit and jeans. Maybe with some accessories, but it’s important that the actual clothing feels soft against my skin, well-loved and well-worn. If I’m feeling good and I’m not really stressed, I’ll often dress up a little bit more.

Grace Van Patten, 25

Actress

fendi
Fendi clothing and accessories.Camille Vivier
fendi for harper's bazaar 2022
Fendi clothing and accessories.Camille Vivier

Who has inspired your style, past and present?

Any ’70s rock star was a big inspiration for me. Everything felt so free: Stevie Nicks and all the flowy clothes and badass shoes and edge. Next to that, I’d have to say my 11-year-old sister, June. She really keeps me up with fashion trends. She’ll wear crazy things, and I’m like, “How did you think of that?” She’s a daily inspiration for me.

How has your personal style evolved over the years?

Oh, gosh—hopefully it’s evolved a lot. I’ve gone through a lot of different phases. That’s what I love about fashion: It’s so ever-changing and changes with your mood.

In high school, I wore a lot of skinny jeans, which I won’t even touch right now, and a lot of motorcycle boots and tank tops. I grew up in New York City, but no matter the weather, I would put on a tank top.

I feel like I’m still figuring out my personal style, and I love that journey. Right now, I'm very into Western looks. I wear cowboy boots every day and can wear them with anything.

Fendi is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the iconic Baguette Bag. How did you celebrate your 25th birthday?

I had a really fun party at the Rainbow Room in L.A. Everyone dressed in ’90s grunge-rock outfits—a lot of leather, a lot of bling, lots of boots. We ate pizza and chicken wings and then just danced all night. It was a lot of fun.

The Baguette comes in so many different styles. Let’s say you walk into a Fendi store and can leave with any Baguette you want. Which one are you going to grab?

I would probably pick a loud one, something that has a lot of personality, because I tend to wear simple clothing.

How is fashion instrumental in helping you shape a character and tell a story?

It’s so instrumental to a character and something I really think about when I’m going to work, especially with this past role in Tell Me Lies. It takes place in 2007, which had a very specific style—one that’s coming back now. My first fitting, I was mortified that I had to wear low-rise jeans. I’ve already gone through that, and it was a nightmare at the time. But the wardrobe really made the story feel specific, especially with the character I play. She goes through such an emotional journey, and she goes through a journey with fashion and makeup as well. I loved being able to talk about that with the wardrobe department, and how the wardrobe changes as her mind changes, and how her sexual awakening and her confidence really influence what she wears. It was really fun to create a costume journey as well as an emotional journey.

Talent: Jordan Alexander, Grace Van Patten, Tahereh Mafi, Erica Lall; Hair: Tamas Tuzes for R+co; Makeup: Mark Carrasquillo; Manicures: Aja Walton for Essie; Production: Eric Jacobson at Hen’s Tooth Productions; Set Design: Jesse Kaufmann; Movement Direction: MJ Harper; Video Director: Christopher Currence; Sound: Eric Rice; Video Editing: Christopher Currence,Studio191, George Monteleone

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