The Seattle Times

Originally published November 18, 2010 at 7:55 PM | Page modified November 18, 2010 at 10:01 PM

"Gossip Girls" new fashion idols? OMG! Totally!

Show a must-see-and-be for designers and fans
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Those of you who believe you're on a first-name basis with the leading ladies of the CW network's "Gossip Girl" are no doubt familiar with the hot-and-heavy plot lines — who's sleeping with whom and betrayals that seem to pop up with astonishing regularity.
But though it's true that the scripts, aimed at teens and twentysomethings, are filled with drama so thick they border on soap operatic, it's the imaginative, sometimes outrageous, sense of style that is most important to many devotees who need to fill their Tuesday mornings by reading (or writing) blogs devoted to what party dress Blair, Serena or Jenny wore the night before.
As with "Sex and the City," aspirational fashion set against the backdrop of bustling, upscale Manhattan makes for a winning combination, and the fashion community has taken notice of the Gossip Girls, celebrating the actresses' looks both on screen and off. Leighton Meester and Blake Lively, the actresses who portray Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen, respectively, have been feted and flung under the wing of Vogue's Anna Wintour faster than either of them could utter an "OMG." Taylor Momsen, who plays teenage rebel Jenny Humphrey, has become the poster girl for wannabe punk tweens everywhere, even appearing as the face of Material Girl, the clothing line brought to us by Madonna and her daughter Lourdes Ciccone.
Momsen's smudgy, raccoon-eyed makeup, platinum blond tresses and penchant for ripped tights and miniskirts appeal to girls with a rock-star sensibility that's more Courtney Love than Katy Perry. Meester and Lively, on the other hand, are two of the current "it" girls in the pop-culture universe, garbed for the camera by costume designer Eric Daman and sought after by designers including Karl Lagerfeld and Versace and more accessible lines (such as Alice + Olivia and Nanette Lepore) that grab the attention of young girls watching at home. Meester and Lively have graced the covers of Vogue, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, In Style, Elle, Marie Claire, Allure, Bazaar, Glamour, Esquire and GQ. And some designers reference them as muses, with Christian Louboutin designing the "Blake" shoe after Lively, and Vera Wang casting Meester as the face of her new fragrance due out in spring.
Meester's and Lively's small-screen alter egos are notable for their narcissism and bad behavior but seem to have had no effect on their real-life glamour, other than to possibly enhance it.
"The 'Gossip' girls (and the boys, hello!) — are totally the new fashion icons for a whole generation," says Simon Doonan, creative director of Barneys New York. "They are self-indulgent and vain and they shop their brains out. What more do you want from a role model?"
Lively's love of fashion has made for a blissful relationship with many of the fashion community's biggest players. The most visible sign of affection has come in the form of two Vogue covers. Wintour seems to be a fan of the actress and the show, and a September story line of "Gossip Girl" incorporated events from the Vogue-sponsored Fashion's Night Out. Several other editors and designers, including Joe Zee, Rachel Zoe, Cynthia Rowley, Charlotte Ronson and Ivanka Trump, have made cameos on "Gossip Girl," bringing more high-fashion credibility to the show and its stars.
The off-screen Lively embodies the girl next door with a penchant for plunging necklines, but Meester goes for more avant-garde creations from designers such as Erdem, Giambattista Valli and Pucci. She takes more risks on the red carpet, such as a white embroidered Pucci mini-dress with a pair of frilly, white pompom Christian Louboutin heels at the 2010 Teen Choice Awards. Or a peacock blue Versus cage dress with cutouts at the torso, during this year's Fashion's Night Out events in New York.
"She's gotten way more into (fashion) than she used to be," says Logan Horne, her stylist of the last two years. "She's even been requesting specific dresses she sees at runway shows or cruising Style.com to check out her favorite designers." Horne says that Meester favors "downtown New York designers" like Proenza Schouler and has developed a relationship with Marc Jacobs, with whom she attended last year's Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute ball, wearing Louis Vuitton.
Designers and brands are quick to publicize when a camisole, caftan or anything is worn by one of the characters, and there are countless blogs dedicated to informing the public what brands were worn, and where the items (or cheaper alternatives) can be purchased.
"Whenever one of the characters on the show wears a dress or a skirt, it creates an instant shopping boom," says Stacey Bendet, whose feminine frocks are featured regularly on the show.
Some fans of "Gossip Girl" say that the style quotient is the only reason they watch the show. "I feel like I'm watching a soap opera but with really awesome clothes," says Caitlin Monaghan, who says that at first she was embarrassed to watch. "Both Blake and Leighton have great style," she says, "though I was a little irritated with Blake last year, 'cause everything she wore was cut down to her naval. ... But this year I've started to dig her style. She's less glamazon and easier to relate to."

Karissa Bowers, 18, started her blog www.gossipgirlfashion.net one year ago so fans could find out exactly what each character wore and where they could buy it. She gets about 18,000 hits a day from readers who want to see images of what was worn on "Gossip Girl" as well as what the show's main characters wore to recent red-carpet events.
Katherine Power, creative director of www.whowhatwear.com, says that the e-mail in-box for the site's feature "What was she wearing?" is generally flooded each Tuesday morning after another juicy and fashion-fueled episode of "Gossip Girl" has aired. "Readers love 'Gossip Girl' on our site," says Power. "Each girl has her own individual style and there really is something for everyone."
— — —
Plenty of publications, including In Style and People, reference the fashion on "Gossip Girl" in an attempt to satisfy the style-hungry who pine for a floral gown worn by Blair or the glittery black eyeliner greased around Jenny's eyes. In addition, there are a number of websites that dedicate their content to tracking what the cast wears, citing the specific designer, cost of each item and links to retail sites. Among them:

www.gossipgirlfashion.net — Perhaps the most comprehensive website on all things worn by the Gossip Girls. After each episode, images of certain outfits are posted. Brands and prices are included, as well as less expensive alternatives for "getting the look."

www.blairfashion.blogspot.com — Dedicated to all things Blair Waldorf, tracking what she wears in almost every episode and listing the designers of each item, from her hats to her heels.

www.chuckandblairtheperfectpair.wordpress.com — Not as centered on style as the others, but as the name implies, this site chronicles all things Chuck (Ed Westwick) and Blair. The on-again, off-again drama of this couple and their over-the-top outfits make them the two most fun characters to watch, both for the story line and their sartorial choices.