Globe & Mail (Toronto, Canada), August 23, 2003 pL4 (English)
DEGRASSI’S STACEY FARBER.(Globe Style)(SHOPPING WITH)(Column). Pearce, Tralee.

I hardly recognize teen actress Stacey Farber, just inside Toronto denim bar Over The Rainbow.

As the punky high-school student Ellie Nash on CTV’s Degrassi: The Next Generation, Farber undergoes a head-to-toe transformation for the camera, from her scrappy hair extensions to her clunky black leather boots, not to mention Chrissie Hynde servings of kohl.

The sweet-faced strawberry blonde, who is wearing a puff-sleeved pink T-shirt and faded jeans, is used to explaining the dichotomy.

“I have to get to the set an hour earlier than everyone for hair and makeup,” she says, standing next to her mom, Rachel. “Everyone else gets to sleep an extra hour!”

In her real life, dressing for school is far simpler: a forest green Branksome Hall uniform. Sensible shoes. No jewellery, no makeup. And certainly none of the neon pink M.A.C nail polish that glints from the ends of her nails like Chiclets today. But this does not preclude shopping for back-to-school gear –the days of private schoolers having one or two weekend outfits are long gone.

Over The Rainbow is swarming with well-allowanced teens and tweens, at least two of whom are camp and school friends of Farber’s. Once they have said hello from behind a stack of T-shirts, they nonchalantly glance back at the clothes, as though seeing a reporter and a photographer trailing the teen is a most regular occurrence.

No wonder. This is a crowd so steeped in celebrity culture that a $168 velour Juicy Couture hoodie, as worn by Cameron Diaz or Britney Spears on the pages of Us magazine, is a perfectly reasonable thing to covet. Alongside the high-end sweats are, well, more high-end sweats. And racks upon racks of cargo pants. Camouflage everything. Trucker hats. There isn’t a corner of this store that isn’t “on trend” as the fashionistas say.

We are assigned our own saleswoman, Veronica Auyeung, who appears to be the funkiest dresser in the store, with neon pink hearts dangling from her ears.

With Farber’s 16th birthday only days away (it’s Monday), she is at the age when style is a literal rendering of who you are. Farber nods and accepts or rejects Auyeung’s picks politely, but firmly.

Auyeung pulls a printed kimono wrap top from a rack. “Do you like the geisha look?” she asks.

“I like things a little more simple,” Farber replies. They move on. Farber warms to browns, fatigue green and a smattering of pink. She is not only acutely aware of the power of style in her own life, she has observed it up-close during the two seasons she’s played Ellie. Now just over halfway through the season’s 22 episodes, Farber says Ellie’s current look signals an evolution. “Ellie is unique, different from the other kids. She like to express herself with her clothes. She has 10 piercings; I have none,” she says. “This season, she’s matured, so she’s less dramatic. It’s her natural hair, not extensions — it’s a little more me.”

Veering into the cargo department, Auyeung and Farber are on the same page. They eye a few pairs, but glance at each other at the sight of an ultraroomy pair.

“Because you’re so petite, these would overwhelm you,” Auyeung says. They pick out a pair of Miss Sixty’s just for fun. They are a full foot too long. A better fit is a distressed green cord miniskirt — sort of a Branksome Hall kilt that’s been through a few wars — which mom and daughter both love. It’s by the next hip label you’ve never heard of: Da-Nang. It costs $245.

As jeans are pulled on and off, mom and daughter play a subtle game of tug of war over fit. In a seventies-esque pair of Mavi brown cords, Farber could be a character on That ’70s Show. Farber pre-emptively eyes her mother. “They’re very fitted,” Farber fille says. Later, in a faded pair of Juicy jeans, the scenario repeats itself. “It’s not cutting off my circulation,” she says.

Rachel, laid-back and obviously proud of her pint-sized actress, says she pays for most Stacey’s clothes, but Stacey saves up her $20 a week allowance for extra items, like the nth zip-up sweatshirt.

Clearly, the bucks she makes as an actress are accruing elsewhere. “No, that’s for my Harvard tuition,” she says, as she holds up a camouflaged logoed Juicy Couture top. A straight-A student, this isn’t really a joke.

“School comes first. I’m very careful about that,” she says, adding that taking a Jodie Foster-style Ivy League hiatus, then returning to acting, would be ideal. “I’d like to maybe study law or writing and journalism.”

Our back-to-school talk veers to accessories, namely Von Dutch trucker hats. Thanks to Justin Timberlake sporting one at Sarsstock, they just won’t go away.

“We get 50 of them a month,” Auyeung says. “We could sell 75 a weekend.”

Farber pulls on a purple one — and a $30 wristband to match. She then zooms in on the sunglass rack.

“It’s the never-ending outfit,” she says, gleefully piling on the accoutrements. She is one item away from the ultimate trucker trilogy. She grabs a big pair of silvery square shades.

“One day, if I’m famous, I’ll buy these to hide behind,” she says. “I’ve only been recognized twice.”


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