Amid 2008’s financial crisis came the original dangerously decadent and morally reprehensible Upper East Side high school drama, Gossip Girl. While the rest of the world was bracing for a financial crash, the closest Serena, Blair, Chuck and Nate came to a crash was one in a limousine. Their extravagant lives which saw them living, eating and partying in locations which we can only dream of, came with criminally expensive wardrobes. While the two main female leads were worlds apart in their styles – one a preppy and polished Manhattan princess and the other the epitome of boho luxe – one commonality which remained was the aspiration they both inspired. The show added fuel to the already emerging generation of impulse buyers, with hordes of viewers heading to department stores and the CW Networks’ shoppable website to snap up the featured brands; some such viewers would still today be hard pressed to untangle the idea of headbands from the character of Blair Waldorf.
Tapping into our collective need for comfort and nostalgia, fast forward more than a decade and a reboot is on the way. Eerie parallels can already be drawn between the state of the economy and the need for escapism, but the high schoolers of today are vastly different. Self-expression, social reform and defining gender roles are just some of the issues which the new show promises to tackle. Casting has been compassionately handled to reflect the realities of diversity and inclusion in the New York of 2021. Representation has been at the forefront and gone is the Caucasian heavy cast of old. Replacing them is a more believable mix of Latin, Black and Caucasian characters. Along with the promise of a well-deserved dose of reality on the Upper East Side, the fashion choices of the characters have also evolved. Having masterminded the wardrobe of the original series, Eric Daman, a former assistant of costume designer extraordinaire Patricia Field (of SATC fame) is back at the helm of the reboot. His expertise will be put to the test as he carves out the visual identities of new characters who need to assimilate with a more progressive social landscape. As is the case with much of Gen Z, their clothing choices must reflect their moral compass and causes which they care about.
If the stills which the network has been drip-feeding us are anything to go by, Daman is well on his way to shaping another generation of Gossip Girl-inspired fashionistas. Gone are the preppy and flowy looks, in are the streetwear staples favoured by the likes of Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber. Serena’s lust-worthy luscious locks have been replaced by edgy shaved heads. Sneakers have trumped stilettos. Paying homage to his mentor and her iconic creation – Carrie Bradshaw – Daman has mixed high-low brands to achieve the attainability aspect. In one of the stills where the characters are seen casually lounging on the steps of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, what instantaneously stands out is the character in the middle who’s cream kitten-heeled Schutz boots are teamed with bike shorts and an oversized white shirt, offset by a Fendi Baguette bag and a Cartier tie pin. Shifting the spotlight from old New York labels like Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs and sharing it with the classics like Chanel and Louis Vuitton, Daman is throwing the likes of Adidas x Ivy Park and Fenty into the mix. This mixing of brands and price points is perfectly in zeitgeist with the shoppers of today. Although we are all for reality and relevance, the fantasists in us are secretly hoping that ostentatious eveningwear will be where both old and new Gossip Girl worlds will collide. Team Grazia is eagerly counting down the days until the the 10-episode fashion extravaganza is released later this year.