Convergence Fashion: Hailing the Gossip Girl Fan

Curator's Note

Much like Veronica Mars and The OC, Gossip Girl features the lives of the young elite. Through its focus on the multiple viewpoints, Gossip Girl humanizes its wealthy characters, casting wealth and privilege as adolescent constraints, akin to more run of the mill coming of age issues such as sexuality and popularity. This humanizing of NY's teen royalty allows the program to have it both ways: showcasing an idealized NY society, and yet making the characters accessible. This type of personalization--a favored structure among TV fans—has fueled the show's nascent fandom. Like fans of Veronica Mars and the The OC, and Roswell and Buffy before, Gossip Girl fans celebrate strong female characters and, at the same time, focus on the material aspects of the show's signature style. In their engagement with the show's fashion, viewers identify with the character's sense of self through their sense of style. In the case of Gossip Girl, the CW's official website has been designed to capitalize on this type of fandom, showcasing (by character) information about the various clothing and accessories worn by the different characters. However, aware of economic disparity, on websites and online forums fans share not only their appreciation of the various clothes/jewelry/bags displayed on Gossip Girl, but also suggest more affordable alternatives. This clip, available at the Gossip Girl official site (and shared by fans at youtube) encapsulates the CW's savvy extratextual campaign: the program's costume designer discusses character wardrobes, associating fashion choices with character in a way very much in tune with fan engagement. The closing voice over suggests that fans can replicate the spirit of the look through their own carefully chosen consumerism.


Haha - Kate Moss and Audrey Hepburn they aint (as Eric Daman claims of Serena and Blair in the clip). More like Hanna Montana meets the shopping channel. But maybe that's the point, since presumably the fans are younger than the characters' ages? Just from the "spirit of the look" of this clip, "associating" clothes and character has little to do with fashion (it's about as close to fashion as the Idol power ballad is to music). Which strikes me as a pity, since US TV characters could do with a bit more Kate Moss and Audrey Hepburn (and a bit less Hanna Montana).

The fashion featured in Gossip Girl is almost as important as the story lines themselves. Each week fans of the show tune in to view the plot developments, and to see what the privileged upper-east siders are wearing in the latest episode. The mention of "economic disparity" in this article and the remarks from the designer featured in the accompanying video is something that catches my attention. The CW website features many videos discussing the style within the show and the designers used. However, this style is largely unattainable due to its price.The costume designer discusses the style of Serena Van der Woodsen - he refers to her style "rolled out of bed" look. A look that is achieved by picking up some denim shorts "off the floor" and casually teaming them with a"5000 dollar tank top". Mr Damon refers to this look as "not done up". The look is aimed to be perceived as "organic" however, it is obvious from the shows stature that a lot of time, effort and money goes into Serena's outfits. Is it really justified to refer to someone who wears a 5000dollar tank top as having an "undone" look? There are also historical and contemporary fashion references in the video.The designer likens Serena's style to that of British model Kate Moss. Through alluding to such an international and current style icon, Serena's style is represented as one that has been adapted by popular culture, thus making it appear more attainable to a wider audience. I do not think this is the case though, as despite the designers encouragement for fans to "replicate" the style of the show in malls,one must question if this upper east side fashion is even able to be replicated on a lower budget. Mr Damon's final comments on the video encourage fans to go and replicate these looks, are somewhat misleading. The fashion featured in this show is highly fantastical.Does the average teenager own a "cashmere diamond incrusted cardigan"? The answer is no. It is up to the young women who watch the show to recognise the heightened state of reality and fashion featured in the media, and to take the influence of the Gossip Girl's wardrobe and adapt it to their own paychecks.

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