Rolling up to the third floor of Holt Renfrew, I’m greeted by the unfamiliar sight of a tiny, very well-dressed girl (that’s not the unfamiliar part) rolling about on a white ottoman (that is). For a man repeller—no, the Man Repeller—Leandra Medine, 22, takes a pretty sexy nap.
She probably deserves it. Since starting her blog last April, she’s become one of the most in-demand fashion bloggers in a rapidly professionalized game: she gets free clothes, hosts parties, designs jewellery with DanniJo, shills for Shopbop, writes for Lucky and Harper’s Bazaar and more, and… more, all while getting her degree in Journalism from the New School. Girls love her. Boys love her. Naturally, girls also hate her. But few would deny she’s a fresh voice, both fashion-obsessive and piss-taking, in a world of pretty parrots.
In person, on a Tuesday, Medine is tired, raspy, funny, and a bit on edge. She seems too smart for the questions one generally asks style bloggers and, when I tell her I’m going to see Joan Didion that night, is approximately 100 times more interested in that than in her own party (the launch, later that eve, of Holts Muse). And then someone on my Twitter wants to know whether she has a job or whether her blog is her full-time job, and she says, basically, tell them to get up at four a.m. and fly to Canada and back in the same day, and plus not have time to shower from Monday to Thursday. It’s more than a full-time job, she says, thank you. And so, here’s Ms. Man Repeller, talking about innate style, Canadian Tuxedos, and how to work it overtime.
In fashion, “trendy” has a bad rep. Designers, editors, we all want to say we’re not trendy. I want to say it too, but I’m wearing metallic nailpolish and a sheer polka-dot blouse, so that’s straight-up a lie. And… you’re also wearing metallic nailpolish and polka dots. So in what ways do you think “trendy” can be a good thing?
I think people confuse trendy and stylish, you know?. Cause being too trendy is a bad thing. Forever21 is a “trendy” store. Not that there’s anything wrong with Forever21, just that trendy usually equates to fast fashion. The ultimate goal is to be stylish, because that carries through to every season.
How do you define “stylish?”
Well, style is innate, and trendiness is something you can buy.
You don’t think you can learn to be stylish?
I don’t know, I mean if you’re bad at math, can you become good at math?
Sometimes. Where do you think you got your sense of style?
I have no idea. Both my parents are pretty well-dressed, so it’s just in our genes. I borrow stuff from my mom all the time. Now she borrows stuff from me, and I feel special and meaningful.
What was the last thing you bought?
A pair of steel-toe navy suede Chanel flat booties on Thursday.
Are you more of an impulse buyer or a save-up-for-six-months buyers?
I used to be that [latter] kind of buyer. I’d see something I loved and I would have my eye on that prize for months. But because of the line of work I’m in now, things are much more easily accessible, so I think I’ve become more of an impulse buyer.
Now that things are given to you by designers or brands, or just that you have a higher degree of access to the latest things, do you miss being a “civilian” shopper?
I’m still a civilian shopper! I only wear on my blog the things I love. If someone gifts me something that I don’t like, I’m happy to send it back. You know? A lot of things that I get sent go right back in that box. Sometimes things don’t make sense. I’ll get sent black bodycon mini-dresses and I’m like, have you ever even read my blog?
Or even the title. So how is it out there—on, like, the dating scene—for a Man Repeller?
Right. I set myself up to answer this question all the time, because I called my blog that.
Even though, to be real, you would have a hard time repelling men even if you wore three potato sacks.
Yeah, I mean, it’s a gimmicky name, but I don’t think girls are actually repelling men through fashion unless the guy’s a real douchebag. If he’s repelled because you’re wearing harem pants, it’s like, grow a pair. Man repelling’s a process of elimination, if anything, because those are the guys that suck. So no, I don’t have a problem dating, I really don’t. Take the 6 train [in Manhattan] at six a.m. All those bankers.
What’s the one thing girls should buy this season that can make an old wardrobe feel new? Kinda special, but versatile.
I guess like a chambray blouse. It’s not a new thing—everyone should have one already—but I’ve been wearing denim blouses all the time lately. They’re smart.
You know, we invented the Canadian Tuxedo. It’s our shining contribution to fashion, made famous by Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, no less.
I figured as much. I actually came up with the “Man Repeller” while wearing a Canadian Tuxedo!
Okay, here’s a question from my asshole friend Kevin, who wants to know if sweatpants with no underwear are a “do” or a “don’t.”
Isn’t the whole point of sweatpants so you can wear underwear underneath and they don’t show? Think about it.
Do you wear sweatpants?
Like, Alexander Wang ones.