Wandering through the exhibit hall at ALA can be incredibly overwhelming. People everywhere, booths crammed full of exciting looking books and posters, and yet the publishers of Kiki still managed to stand out with their mannequin clothed in a giant pink tutu and green jacket. After chatting with the editor in chief of the magazine, Jamie Bryant, I may have asked her to be my mom, it’s a little hazy at that point. What I was hearing about this magazine was kind of making me dizzy, and we can file this under: WHY DIDN’T THIS EXIST WHEN I WAS A KID?
Kiki is a fashion magazine for young girls (I’d say probably as young as 7 would enjoy it, up to around the 13 year-old range) that completely breaks the mold and has a blast doing it. There are no ads in the mag, no articles about dating or boys (which ok, some people feel is a detriment, but I agree with the editors that girls are getting that stuff thrown at them so early and from so many sources that I don’t think they’re going to miss it here), and the models are real girls, not older models made to look young. One of the cover models even has *gasp* braces! I picked up two issues to look through, and completely fell in love with Kiki’s fun, intelligent voice. The mag doesn’t talk down to its readers, and the fashion is a way to talk about a variety of topics like science, business, interesting careers, and more.
I especially loved that in one of the issues I looked at, there was a spread on some pretty extreme couture designers like Alexander McQueen, and then at the end was a page with a girl wearing some outfits put together from McQueen’s line for Target. I thought it was really cool to see the wild high fashion, and then have the magazine say “ok, clearly that is not what you, a young girl, are probably going to wear to school. Here are some things that are actually reasonable for you to wear, that just about anyone can probably find without living in a big city, and without making your parents go broke. Also, you do not have to look like a fashion model to wear this.” So very yes.
Every issue has a theme (the two issues I have are the “Extreme” issue and a History of 20th century fashion issue) with fashion that explores that theme and articles taking the theme into areas I didn’t expect. In the Extreme issue there’s an article on astronaut Sunita Williams, after which readers are encouraged to design their own version of the space suit. The magazine has DIY projects and recipes, and really just feels like something a lot of girls can get into.
I handed one of the issues off to two sisters (13 and 10) to see what they thought, and both girls were pretty enthusiastic about it. They liked the projects and thought they looked like stuff they could probably manage, and said that the writing was interesting. I already said that I’m personally in love with the mission of the magazine and the aesthetic they’ve chosen, and I’d love to see this in magazine racks in public and school libraries, giving girls an alternative to Seventeen and other magazines like it.