“I guess I am a terrible candidate for this…” she texts me, noticeably apologetic. “Nah..”, I tell her, “we’ll make do.” In just a couple of hours I am taking Leandra Medine vintage shopping in the Lower East Side and I have to admit, our kismet’s been a bit out of whack since we started setting up our shoot. First of all, contrary to most of my muses, Leandra has no vintage obsession to speak of – she only owns a few precious pieces that belonged to her mother and grandmothers. “The two most valuable are a paisley Chanel blouse from my great grandmother – I think it was made when Coco was still designing,” she describes, “and a velvet green shoulder padded bolero that my grandmother wore to my parents’ wedding with the most amazing emerald green skirt.” OK, that’s fine. We’ll go shopping then! But Leandra also doesn’t buy any vintage. “I’m not obliged to purchase anything, am I?” she wants to make sure. Why buy if you can raid grandmother’s closet? “It’s free!” she laughs. Another hair in the soup was the fact that 23-year old Leandra lives at home with her parents – she grew up on the Upper East Side, and again, because “it’s free!” – and unexpected visitors are not allowed. My last minute request to take some portraits of her in grandmother’s things had to be abandoned. OK, no problem. JUST shopping then! And then there was the unlucky mix-up of dates. We decided to shoot on Saturday at the Manhattan Vintage Show, that amazing seasonal vintage fair in New York. It only comes along four times a year so yippy for us – coincidence, I think not! But of Friday Leandra called me to reschedule because she thought she was “coming down with something and didn’t want get sick before Fashion Week.” She tells me she rsvp’d to about 40 shows (as part of a special collaboration that will be announced in WWD tomorrow!) and also styling Lila Horn’s presentation. Understood – it’s best this busy little bee take it easy. “So let’s go on Sunday then!” I suggest, not knowing the show ends on Saturday night. When I realize my blunder the next day, I make it there in the nick of time – wouldn’t miss it for the world! – but Leandra had made other plans. Alright then. “Can’t we go to a regular store?” she questions. I make some frantic calls to Narnia – I’ve been wanting to cover this store for a while – and rest at ease when the store manager agrees. “I love The Man Repeller,” she says.
I’ve met Leandra a few times, always at the kind of events where bloggers convene and thrive, but I never had a chance to get in closer on this man repelling wonder woman. She’s the spawn of a Turkish father and Iranian mother, went to a Jewish day school called Ramaz and studied Journalism at the Eugene Lang, a division of the New School for liberal arts. Her blog is just two years old but already one of the biggest powerhouses. She gets a measly 85,000 page views per day! And a book is coming out next year. She coined the term Man Repeller after a friend discreetly told her she wasn’t dressing the way boys like it. “You’re kind of repelling men with your drop crotch pants and denim shirts,” she said. And though she wouldn’t trade her usual attire for anything but the things she loves to wear, Leandra eventually DID get the man. She announced her engagement a few months ago! Mazeltov!
Leandra’s current fashion craving is “any combination of leather, denim and utility green paired with very feminine shoes. I’ve also taken a liking to the sportswear trend, e.g. track pants as formal wear and Isabel Marant sneakers. Be still, my heart!” When we meet she’s wearing a Cut25 sheepskin coat and tiny little red sneakers – she’s a size 6! – she tied in a very interesting way. I didn’t have to convince her to buy the vintage Missoni sweater at Narnia. She visualized an entire outfit around it at the register. Mission accomplished!