Fashion

Gossip Girl: almost everything told by costume designer Eric Daman

From the creator of the looks of Blair, Serena, Chuck and the first cast to the revelations on the reboot of the most loved series of the 2000s
Reading time 11 minutes

During the quarantine, thanks to Netflix, a new generation was able to discover the stories, the looks and the glamor, often emulated, of the characters of the TV series of Gossip Girl. Our Favorite East-Siders: Serena, Blair, Chuck, Dan, and Nate over the six seasons of the series, essentially dictated how an entire demographic chose to dress. A style inspiration that is still iconic today: Blair's headbands, Serena's sparkling dresses, Chuck's scarves and so on. We spoke to costume designer Eric Daman, who revealed some curiosities about how he built what is a style and what awaits us the Gossip Girl Reboot, which is being shot in these days.

(Portrait of Robert Richards)

How did you start your career in the fashion world?

Eric Daman : As a young man, I first moved to Paris to study French literature at the Sorbonne and worked in a boutique called “Magic Circle” which was quite innovative. It was in Place Bastille and stood out because it was capable of mixing high-end garments with emerging designers. Here I was accidentally spotted and tracked down by Steven Meisel and a week later I was on a plane bound for New York to shoot a Calvin Klein campaign. It was one of those opportunities that the universe offers you once in a lifetime, I could not miss it.

I know you started working with Kate Moss, how was it?

I remember it was amazing! It was 1992-1993 and I remember that I even happened to start singing together on the set, it was a dream for me, she was adorable even if I have to admit that before I met her I was quite nervous. She inspired the character of Serena. I consider myself quite lucky, I have worked with super models like Kate and Naomi Campbell and internationally renowned photographers. There was a lot to learn from these people, they were great sources of inspiration. Backstage, for example, I worked a lot with Joe McNally but as much as I appreciated the work of photographers, I immediately realized that I was more fascinated by that of stylists, I felt more connected to that world.

Then tell me about how you met Patricia Field and your experience with "Sex and the City"

I got to know Pat when I was still working in the boutique in Paris, we were selling her pieces for her boutique in New York. Then I moved to New York and here I started doing my first jobs as a stylist and one day I bumped into Patricia on the street and she was about to start the second season of " Sex And The City " and she told me she was looking for an assistant, someone with an editorial background and at the same time an understanding of costume design. My friends encouraged me to interview and so I did. I did an interview with Patricia and Sarah Jessica Parker and I have to say that it went very well, a month later I started working as Patricia's assistant, with her we won an Emmy for the third season of "Sex and The City" . Patricia is a force of nature, she is visionary, I learned a lot from her.

When you started Gossip Girl, was the idea of characters becoming style icons intended?

I would say yes, we built their personalities step by step very carefully. We wanted to create a living fashion magazine, that was the intent. We also tried to make it easy for viewers to recognize the brands the characters wear. Each group of girls referred to a specific stylist.

As for school uniforms, are they Ralph Lauren or are they simply inspired by the brand?

We went back to the classic East Coast school uniforms but at the same time we wanted to give them a unique touch. There are many subversive touches, the loose tie, the headbands, the hats, the scarves, the scarves in the hair and the knee-high socks, especially since filming in New York in the middle of winter was tough in terms of temperatures.

What emerging brands did you launch thanks to the show?

Proenza Schouler certainly and then Rodarte and Vena Cava (which unfortunately no longer exists).

Which were the Maisons you regularly relied on for the show?

Chanel mainly. Then Valentino, Ferragamo and Dior were thrilled to work with us, but this starting from the second season. Then Moschino, Marc Jacobs, Louboutin, Roger Vivier.

How did you create the looks for each character? Did you have clear ideas from the start?

The important thing is to make sure that the characters have totally different looks and here, it will seem strange to you, but my degree in French literature at Sorbonne came to my rescue, it helped me to read the books and imagine the characters. For example, Blaire's headbands are a kind of her super power, it's that extra touch that makes her unique, her princess tiara. For Serena, the touch of class is giving her that natural and innate nonchalance. He wears a lot of sequins because he is a strong-willed spirit, which however radiates with his smile. The most complicated to render was Chuck Bass, he was a complicated personality to express through looks, his is a dandy style that can easily be understood by the British more than by the Americans

When we look at Chuck we can not help but think that his clothes are perfect for him, that they perfectly express his charm.

Surely this is also due to the fact that he is a fantastic actor. Then it must be said that there is also a whole transformation of the character over the seasons. It is no coincidence that Chuck loses the scarf, his trademark in the first season and becomes more adult. On Instagram you can find an account dedicated only to the scarf, it's called Boris and they still sell it, it's by J.Press a clothing brand dedicated to school uniforms until 1902.

What do you tell me about the other characters?

Little J is certainly the character that evolves the most in the series, she starts as a simple girl from Brooklyn to then aspire to become the new Queen B and here she will also start to show off clothes that in reality she cannot afford, she enters a glamorous world that in reality is not his and in fact he will pay the consequences. Dan, on the other hand, is the classic intellectual guy who initially doesn't care about the look and wears H&M and who will end up wearing a Dior suit when his transformation into Upper East sider is complete.

Let's say that this example makes the most of what is the message that Gossip Girl tries to launch: The world of the Upper-East-Side can be ridiculous in the eyes of those who do not live it, a farce, a golden cage but in reality when there comes close and you come into contact and then you end up not being able to do without it ...

Exactly and when you get in there is no way out, you get absorbed.

What about Nate instead?

He looks so much like the prototype of the handsome American that all girls want, and this is the character we tried to create. He is wearing Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers shirts.

What are the designers worn by Chuck, is there a scene where Blaire steals his shoes and he exclaims "I want my shop back"?

Chuck dresses many Italian brands, mainly Bottega Veneta and Armani. I imagined that his refined taste looked to Made in Italy creations. It would be very trendy right now, given the success of some of the brands. But also some English designers. Complete with Ozwald Boateng's Savile Row for example.

Is Prada on the Show?

No, and not because I don't like it but because it wasn't suitable for the series we had in mind in those years.

Could you tell me about the Parisian looks of Gossip Girl?

I can tell you that I've always had a very strong connection with Paris, we shot two of my favorite episodes of the series there. Being in Paris also gave us the opportunity to access designers we didn't have in New York, Balmain for example. And access to Chanel and couture dresses. Anna Wintour's daughter Bee was a fan of Gossip Girl, thanks to this the Chanel-Blake Lively-Karl Lagerfeld relationship gave everything a fundamental boost. Let's say that the total change of look of the characters when they are in Paris is wanted, changing the scenario is as if the characters changed. Think of the incredible scene at the train station between Chuck and Blair, she is wearing a gorgeous orange evening dress by Oscar de la Renta. If I think I saw it in a window of the Bergdorf Goodman department store one day before leaving! Let's say it was love at first sight and I had to take it with me. It was the perfect dress for Blair.

Colors also change radically from Paris to New York

Exactly, as Americans we think that Paris is the capital of fashion and we imagine it with bright colors but in reality I don't think so, the colors we see are mostly neutral. The fact that I dressed Serena and Blair with sequins and bright colors in the episodes shot in Paris wanted to represent what is the American ideal of Parisian fashion, which however does not correspond to reality. It represents "our" way of feeling in Paris.

What can you tell us about the new reebot?

The most important thing is to know that inclusiveness and diversity will be two important themes and then I can tell you that it will be beautiful and different from the Gossip Girl we knew. And the clothes are crazy, of course! There will be classics but also many new brands to discover. For sure I can say that Ferragamo and Chanel are thrilled to participate in version 2.0. There will also be labels like Balenciaga and Staud.

Will we see the old characters we love so much?

Who knows, maybe!

What have been the highlights of your career since Gossip Girl onwards?

After Gossip Girl I did “Carrie Diaries” and it was really exciting, a way to find out who Carrie Bradshaw was in her High-School version. Then I worked on a ten-episode miniseries on ABC called "The Astronaut Wives Club" based on the book. The vibes were from the fifties and sixties, so I got to play with vintage. It was great for me. The story was also absolutely interesting, it was the first show that focused on the life of wives, housewives. Then I worked on the television series "Billions" which features New York and the world of finance.

Could you tell us something about the relationship with Diane Pernet. You collaborate at ASVOFF 12 as a costume judge for the films participating in its film festival.

I met her in 1990 if I remember correctly while I was in Paris shooting Gossip Girl and received an invitation for the Chanel show. Friends we had in common kept telling me that I should meet her and so I did. When I left Paris we kept in touch and ours became a long-distance relationship, but we tried to see each other at least once a year. From there we have always felt, and we have decided to collaborate for ASVOFF12. I went to NuBoyana in Bulgaria on these wonderful sets, where so many films are shot. I held styling master classes and got to know many new and talented costume designers by scrutinizing the films in competition. Can't wait to attend the next ones! The last one was online, but we're hoping for some exciting new adventures. Maybe in Paris!

The looks of the Gossip Girl reboot: everything we know

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At Home with Eric Daman by Diane Pernet x ASVOFF12

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