Taylor Momsen Talks Madonna, Fashion and Music

Taylor Momsen, the youngest of the "Gossip Girl" starlets, is the face of Madonna's juniors label.

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Taylor Momsen was hand-picked by Madonna to be the face and muse of Material Girl, the juniors label that will launch at 200 Macy’s stores next week. The line is partly designed by Madonna’s 13-year-old daughter, Lourdes Leon, but it’s Momsen who appears in the line’s advertising campaign and who will make an appearance at Herald Square on Aug. 3 for a kick-off event. There, she’ll perform an acoustic set with her band, The Pretty Reckless.

This story first appeared in the July 28, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Momsen, who turned 17 on Monday, is the youngest of the “Gossip Girl” starlets. Currently performing on the Vans Warped Tour, she recently fired her stylist and has been making waves with her own wild-child fashion choices — such as the garters-and-raccoon-eyes ensembles that have drawn comparisons to the Courtney Love of yore.

Raised partly in St. Louis, Momsen may have been destined for her Material Girl role: she attended Roman Catholic school there at Our Lady of Lourdes.

On Tuesday, WWD talked to Momsen about the Material Girl gig, working with Madonna and how she developed her own style.

WWD: Where are you calling from?

Taylor Momsen: I’m in Nashville on tour. It’s the first day off we’ve had in eight days. So far, so good. It’s been hot. We played in Atlanta yesterday and it was scorching.

WWD: What was your reaction to being chosen as the face of Material Girl and what does that role entail?

T.M.: I was ecstatic to be asked. It’s such an honor. It’s Madonna. I was kind of shocked. She’s amazing. The role entails doing the launch of the line on Aug. 3 at Herald Square. And I’ll be tweeting and talking about the line. We did a photo shoot for the first pieces of the collection. It’s a really great line. It’s really cool.

WWD: Were you a fan of Madonna? What songs of hers are your favorites? And what about her influence on fashion?

T.M.: All her songs are so great. They’re so well crafted and really perfect, pure, pop genius. I’m a big fan of “Papa Don’t Preach.” I love that song. But really all of it is fantastic. She was the one who did it all first. She gave people like me an avenue to do what I’m doing. She was the one who started all the controversy to begin with. I’m a big fan of all kinds of vintage looks and altering them and making them modern. I don’t know if I copy anything directly, but I like to mix and match and play around a lot.

WWD: What has it been like working with Madonna on the shoots?

T.M.: We worked on the photo shoot together, and Lourdes was there too. Lourdes and she styled it, along with myself. We collaborated on putting the pieces together and finding the right look for each shot. She was very down to earth. It was nice to see after all her success, she’s still very grounded. It was cool to see her interaction with Lourdes. She’s a cool mom. She shot a couple of the photographs herself at the end. She definitely has a vision and was very hands-on. It was really easy working with her. She’s very comfortable to be around — very professional but a lot of fun. I’m very opinionated, so it was nice to work with someone who has such a direct vision and see how they accomplish that.

WWD: Have any of Madonna’s specific looks or periods inspired your own personal style?

T.M.: Personal style is just that — it has to be personal. There are things that are inspiring and can give you ideas, but I don’t really look at one person or one era. You have to make it unique to yourself. I don’t really emulate anything in particular, I take from all different places.

WWD: Some people have compared your recent looks on tour to Courtney Love. Any thoughts on that?

T.M.: I’ve heard that. I’m just dressing like myself. People will always make comparisons to different people.

WWD: Do you work with anyone now for your own wardrobe or special events?

T.M.: I dress myself. But I also work with a local designer in New York who I’m friends with [named Stephanie Paterek]. We design pieces together. And I go shopping and find things I like.

WWD: Do you feel pressure to look a specific way as a young actress and musician? And how do you deal with critiques in the press about your style?

T.M.: I don’t read the critiques because they’re always going to critique something. I just dress like myself. I don’t really feel any pressure. People are always going to say something about that.

WWD: Have you been wearing any Material Girl pieces on tour?

T.M.: I haven’t gotten any of the pieces yet. I only got to model them so far. Actually I lied — I have been wearing a double-cross ring from the line. I got to steal that from the shoot. But I wasn’t allowed to take any clothes.

WWD: Apart from Material Girl, what other projects are you working on?

T.M.: My record is coming out this summer, it’s called “Light Me Up.” So we’re touring and playing in support of that. I’ll be playing V Fest in England, so that will be exciting. And then coming to New York on Aug. 3 at Macy’s. My record is something that I’ve worked on for a very long time, so it’s definitely the priority for now.

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