By Carson Griffith
For maybe the first time in her career, Leandra Medine is showing signs of opening up. The 23-year-old blogger, known to readers of her site as “The Man Repeller,” has followed a strict mantra of “personable over personal” that has made her irresistible, if not entirely accessible, to her fans.
But with a recent engagement and an upcoming wedding at the St. Regis, she’s slowly coming out of her Thakoon cocoon.
Over a latté at The Smile in Noho the Friday before Fashion Week, Medine almost looks like she’s wearing a disguise. Having made her living for over the past two years on the promotion of fashion-forward, often wacky attire, it’s slightly disappointing to find the native New Yorker in an oversized sweater and scarf. But a large, sparkly engagement ring and an “arm party” of bracelets—a term Medine herself coined—make up for the lack of a tufted skirt with multiple layers or high-waisted shorts.
The Upper East Sider has made time for me in her morning between a flurry of meetings, including styling a Lila Horn show for Fashion Week, and working on her popular blog, which garners 2 million hits a month and helped her top Adweek’s “Fashion’s Power 25 list” last September, beating out Lady Gaga, Anna Wintour, Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton.
“I’ve RSVPed to, like, 50 shows,” she admitted when I asked her for her Fashion Week schedule. Among them are Calvin Klein and Derek Lam, both coveted first-year invites for the blogger, but she did not attend the show of one of her favorite young designers, Alexander Wang. Strangely enough for Medine, she missed the hot ticket, which took place Saturday, Feb. 11, to attend her own engagement party.
In a short white Marchesa dress at 583 Park, Medine brought friends and family to celebrate her engagement to her long-term, on-and-off boyfriend, whom she keeps anonymous on her blog and won’t name here. When I asked what he does for a living, she said, “We’re fulfilling all the New York stereotypes, which means…” she trailed off. “Finance,” I said.
But getting back to fashion, the open-faced, long-legged brunette will not be slipping into a dress designed by Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig for her nuptials. While her millions of readers and 60,000 Twitter followers have waited with bated breath to hear who will be designing her wedding dress, it sounds as if she’s narrowed it down to one hot designer, one she also considers a friend: Prabal Gurung.
“We’re actually talking about the prospect of him doing my wedding dress,” she smiled, almost shyly, at the thought of a custom-made gown on a girl’s biggest day by one of fashion’s most popular men. “I think Prabal Gurung is probably going to be the most relevant and important designer in fashion five years from now. His collections are insane.”
As for any woman who has made her career in fashion, it is easy for Medine to tick off a litany of favorite designers. The difference, however, is that a number of them, such as Gurung, are personal friends with the famous blogger. Last fall, Medine walked the catwalk for Rebecca Minkoff’s Fashion Week show, after, Minkoff tells me, she challenged Medine to a walk-off after dinner on a rainy night. Medine concluded her audition runway strut with a funny routine from Saturday Night Live, which she watches regularly. It sealed the deal.
“I love Becky,” Medine said, calling the designer by a pet name when I inquire about the relationship.
The feeling is mutual. “Leandra reminds me of what Katharine Hepburn was to fashion in a time when women only wore skirts and she wore pants. She stood for the modern woman in an era of glamor,” Minkoff enthused. “I appreciate her singular point of view; women love the trends men hate. She’s fearless and empowers other people to be the same.”
Minkoff keeps Medine on her mind in the workplace as well. “We consider her part of the brand’s family. Our barometer. We always ask ourselves, ‘How would the Man Repeller wear this?’”
Danielle Snyder, of the jewelry line Dannijo, which she created with her older sister Jodie, has developed an almost sister-like relationship with Medine since meeting her a year ago at a party for the blogging forum Tumblr. “It was love at first sight,” Snyder said, adding she thinks they’ve spent “364 out of the 365 days” that they’ve known each other together.
“She’s like a fox on oversized clogs,” she said about the blogger’s ability to actually not repel men. “I never tease her because just when I think she’s looking too hot, I realize she hasn’t shaved her legs in way too long.”
“I feel so blessed I’ve become so close with [Danielle and Jodie],” Medine said earnestly, despite Snyder’s joking commentary and despite the fact that she has never in her life owned a pair of clogs. Medine helped host a dinner with the sisters the night before Fashion Week began last season and has another collaboration with Dannijo due out next month, called Mr. Dannijo’s Eye Spies, a takeoff of their original Mr. Dannijo collaboration.
She admits not everyone is singing her praises, though. The “haters,” as she calls them, are still lurking on the Internet, ready to pounce on her every move, due to her quick, though not unwarranted success. Despite receiving lengthy and numerous congratulations upon posting news of her engagement on her website, other sites condemned her for it as if it were a kind of betrayal. “I didn’t mean for the ‘Man Repeller’ to be me [initially],” she said, explaining that the name of the site and online persona was about making a “social comment about fashion.”
This story first appeared in the March issue of AVENUE. For the rest of the story, visit avenueinsider.com
Tags: accessible, Blog, engagement, Fashion Week, Fashion's Power 25 list, fashion-forward, irresistible, leandra medine, native New Yorker, NoHo, personable over personal, the man repeller, The Smile, wacky attire, wedding
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