Rookie’s Amy Rose Spiegel spills her style secrets

In this exclusive video collaboration with the newly relaunched Racked, the Rookie story editor gets personal with filmmaker Columbine Goldsmith

To celebrate the revamp of Vox media's fashion offshoot Racked, Dazed has joined forces with surrealist photographer and filmmaker Columbine Goldsmith for the first of an exclusive new shorts series. The first clip, centered around Rookie's Amy Rose Spiegel, shows us a sugary-sweet slice of the story editor's weird and wonderful world – complete with Scottish Fold and Morrissey pillow. “All I do all day is rollerskate in my underwear, hang out in the bathtub with my cat, and work at my desk in extravagant outfits anyway”, she explains. “So it wasn't the hugest departure from what my morning might have looked like otherwise.” After the shoot, we managed to catch up with both Columbine and Amy to chat fashion, feminism, and why it's sometimes okay to cry in the street with strangers.

Where did you get that piece of Morrissey’s shirt, and why did you choose to put it in a mayonnaise jar?

Amy Rose Spiegel: I fought tooth and nail for that tiny shred of black linen! The story is this: I was 15 years old and had waited 10 hours to ensure that I'd be right against the stage to see a person I still consider a demigod. He threw his shirt on top of me. I was practically rabid. This was a shared condition among my bedfellows in the crowd, and we descended on the shirt on our VERY beast behavior, tearing and clawing at it and one another. It was so rad. Finally, someone came to their senses, pulled out a set of car keys, and carved and served it like a roast shared at a decent family meal. It was like watching the process of evolution – when we realized that, in order to keep it in any capacity rather than sacrifice the whole thing, we were civilized again. And I put it in a mayo jar because when in any single instance of my idiot history, have I done something that makes good sense? Of course an ancient mayonnaise jar is a safety deposit box when you're 15. Of course it still is now.

Were you familiar with eachothers work beforehand? 

Columbine Goldsmith: I wasn't familiar with Amy's work, but when I started my research and reading her articles, I was so surprised by this girl who is both witty, acerbic, and intimate with the reader. It's a certain type of writing that Amy conquers which is really “of the moment.” It makes the reader feel like you're hanging out in her room and she's a friend explaining these amazing observations and quick thoughts about life. 

Amy Rose Spiegel: 
This was my first introduction to Columbine, but I'm excited to see more! If my experience with her is any indication, Columbine has a preternatural knack for making the people she's shooting feel like themselves at their most capable, instead of self-conscious or exposed or like their hairstyle/voiced opinion on a political issue is doing something just criminal and EVERYONE WILL SEE THIS UGH, the way I sometimes can in front of cameras. She was all empathy and no imperiousness, which makes me excited to see what sheen that lays over the rest of her work.

“The most tangled-up parts of my life have been the most instructive, and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to live in the trash, and I mean that” – Amy Rose Spiegel

Who is your ultimate feminist icon and why?

Columbine Goldsmith:  This is funny because I asked Amy about feminism in my interview and we both had strong thoughts about the term feminism and why it's bewildering that some people have trouble calling themselves a feminist! It's just baseline equalism people! My ultimate feminist icon is my mother. She was a social worker before she had me and my three sisters, but became a housewife (a feminist housewife!) when we were born. She loved being our mother and considered it a job with as much worth as a lawyer or teacher. But she often complained that feminism didn't leave a place for women who wanted to make the home their work – she was a real cool mom and made me think about what female power really means – choice to do anything, even be a mother and a housewife.

Amy Rose Spiegel: 
I adore women who live productively, happily, and vulnerably all at once in public. Anyone who does that, I salute. Anyone who makes a life and narrative for themselves that is not, first, or only, about how “TUFF IT IS” to “BE A WOEBEGONE CHICKADEE IN THIS MALE-ASS PRISON-WORLD”. We do live in a male-ass prison-world. I'm not advocating for ignoring or trying to circumvent that reality, since closely monitoring, critiquing, and agitating against it, in enormous part by speaking about it, are essential to kneecapping it. But what you say about it is strengthened when you are, yourself, strong, especially if you're communicating it in work about the atrociously oppressive framework imposed on women, and especially women of color, or who aren't cis and/or straight. You have to be honest and confident, which is hard when the systemic facts of your identity can be so grim and disheartening. I'm against the idea that oppression ameliorates women's right to trust themselves along with their more tangible rights. That's a two-for-one sacrifice.

I'm thinking of Toni Morrison and The Bluest Eye, which is one of the greatest works of literature ever, and which conveys, so straightforwardly, the vicious discrimination faced by its protagonist, who is poor, black, and female. It's an intersectional touchstone. Its value is limitless. That's because it's muscular. Its author is a fucking DON, and she's unafraid of owning up to that: Toni Morrison knows she's a queen. You can tell by how seriously she takes her work. Isn't the ability to take yourself—your experience, however it is you divvy up your time on this planet – seriously, and then disperse that self-possession and proficiency among your co-Earth citizens, the whole fucking point of feminism? Isn't the point that we're supposed to be able to be happy, and lift up other people so they can be, too, with actions and work that support one another? Feminism, to me: Accepting and loving women, including yourself, and seeing them as whole human beings. Celebrate that part of you instead of seeing it as a detriment, because it's not. Then, crucially, doing the same for others, of all genders, of all races, of all classes and ages, and staying open to hearing what it takes to do it with respect.

I understand that it's easy for me to say this. Back to Queen Toni, who has this to say: “Make a difference about something other than yourselves.” I am not a trans woman, one of 12 of whom risk being murdered by a cisgender person – and that number's way higher among trans women of color. I live in America. I'm a white woman, meaning there are a HOST of advantages I am allowed to take for granted that women of color are not guaranteed, including everything from the way I'm treated by public institutions to the amount of money I make to, oh, you know, almost every other arena of life. There are certain obstacles to being a woman who is productive, happy, and vulnerable without (much) fear that were whisked out of my path at birth. But I hope I can keep learning to try and use my work and life to call attention to, and try to help excise, those roadblocks from other people's lives. It's the only point of doing anything. And my confining myself to the horrid societal expectation that I should feel in some way sorry for, or embarrassed by, or apologetic about, the ownership of my own life just because I am a woman doesn't aid that. It sustains the narrative that the only people that are allowed to be happy are white men—that everyone else should feel bad about who they are, and how they're not enough of that identity. I am trying my best not to because I think all people deserve more.

“It's bewildering that some people have trouble calling themselves a feminist! It's just baseline equalism people!” – Columbine Goldsmith

What was your first major fashion statement? And your biggest ever fashion purchase?

Columbine Goldsmith: I started wearing a black wig (like Uma Thurman's in Pulp Fiction) and a pink slip around ninth grade. My biggest fashion purchase was an Acne jacket that I still feel ridiculous wearing because it cost so much. Sorry Acne.

Amy Rose Spiegel: I dyed not only my hair, but my entire body, purple when I was 11. To all the youngs reading this: When you're washing out the dye in the shower, don't bend over at the waist and shake it from the back of your head onto your skin unless you want to look like Grimace – and if you do, do the opposite of what I just said. My biggest-ever Style Transaction: I paid an exorbitant-to-me amount of money on this Opening Ceremony Magritte dress when I sold my book Action. I bought it on mega-sale after clicking on the link to it once a day for half a year beforehand. I knew I made the right choice when an elderly couple stopped me in the street the first time I wore it. As one of the women marveled over it, asking if I designed it and listening to me motormouth “NO NO IT'S MAGRITTE, I COULD NEVER, ISN'T IT GORGEOUS?” The other beamed, clutched her dog's leashes, and I swear she started to cry – it was like they could tell I was so happy and it made them so happy and then, there we were, crying and happy together in the dumb street. I am still fully in its thrall. 

If you could choose some famous shopping companions, living or dead, who would they be and why?

Columbine Goldsmith: Beatrix Ost for her creativity, Coco Chanel because she would be a beast to shop with and so mean, and Georgia O'Keeffe since she would so not be into shopping and we could just skip out together. 

Amy Rose Spiegel: Lady Bird JohnsonAudre Lorde, Elton John, James Baldwin, and Patricia Highsmith – if I'm being given the chance to hang out with them and listen to them talk, even if it's just about, “Dang, this is severely marked down, I am about to COP THIS SHITTT,” I'm taking it.

What advice would you give your teenage self today?

Columbine Goldsmith: Don't spend as much time idolising other people.

Amy Rose Spiegel: 
I have no advice for her. She did what she had to do. I tried to think of which extra-special events among the harrowing garbage festival that was my adolescence that I'd tell her to avoid, or at least respond to more capably, and there's nothing. One of the strange and funny parts of my job now is that I edit Rookie's advice column, Just Wondering, and I've noticed that girls just want to know that someone's hearing them. The most difficult part of being young, for me, was coming to the understanding that you can provide that listener for and to yourself. So, the only real guidance I have for teenagers, whether they were or aren't me, is: You know what to do. And when you don't, you actually still sort of do. I don't believe in dodging hardship or sticking the landing perfectly on your first try. The most tangled-up parts of my life have been the most instructive, and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to live in the trash, and I mean that.