A VANDERWOODSEN WORLD
Hey Upper East Siders, Gossip Girl here, your one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite. Spotted at the annual Hamptons white party: Serena turning heads, as usual, in a plunging goddess gown. But whose attention is she trying to grab? Or rather, what drama is she trying to stir up?
Whether you are familiar with the show Gossip Girl or not, you will recognize Blake Lively’s 2007-2012 bombshell alter ego, Serena Vanderwoodsen. Known for her it-girl persona, Serena redefines the look of wealth through risqué cuts, a boho-chic aesthetic, and an overall slightly messy look. In a high-society world such as the Upper East Side, affluence tends to be congruent with tradition and refined sophistication. Even Serena’s bestie counterpart Blair Waldorf emulates this classic take on upper-class style with her perfectly tailored outfits and iconic preppy headbands. However, it is not only in the Gossip Girl universe where these styles are applicable. The reckless elegance that Serena Vanderwoodsen became known for within the series quickly blossomed into a trend capturing the attention of the real world too.
While Gossip Girl’s demographic primarily focused on young girls, it wasn’t long before fashion lovers of all ages were catching on. During the peak of the Gossip Girl craze in the late 2000s and early 2010s, A-list celebrities began re-wearing some of Serena’s most legendary looks. From Jennifer Love Hewitt wearing Serena’s Herve Leger burgundy bandage dress for a premier party to Khloe Kardashian wearing Serena’s purple one-shoulder Alexander Wang dress, the fixation with breaking fashion norms was everywhere. With celebrities promoting the Serena look, the infatuation picked up even faster.
Soon designer Anna Sui curated a line of Gossip Girl inspired clothing for Target, fit with sub-categories depending on which character buyers would like to model their style after. It is important to note that a main roadblock in recreating Serena’s typical outfits is the hefty price tag that they often boast. Many of Serena’s most famous dresses ranged anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand, which is not the most accessible wardrobe to replicate. The Anna Sui Target line provided young girls with a way to play around with expensive taste at an inexpensive price and allowed Serena’s style to be inclusive to a far larger audience. However, the collaboration itself didn’t come without its fair share of scandal. A couple of months before the expected release of the collection, an on-the-set source reported that “One of Target’s top executives got nervous about being that closely associated with the show, given the [debauchery] its characters get into,” for example, the characters' engagement with drugs, alcohol, and provocative sex lives. With an uproar from the community after the leak of this information, Target backtracked on their prior concerns, and the collection was online and in approximately 800 stores by September.
So what really is it that makes emulating Serena’s style so ground-breaking? Of course, the form-fitting cuts and low necklines that Serena often wears differ from other characters in the high-society universe of the Upper East Side, but is that truly it? What pushes Serena into the status of scandalous is her actions. Even a simple Google search will come up highlighting Serena’s most outrageous moments: from sleeping with her best friend’s boyfriend to leaving a man who was overdosing alone in a hotel room, Serena’s track record is nowhere near spotless. It is due to these character plots, along with her progressive fashion sense, that makes the Parents Television Council recall the characters on the show as “every parent’s worst nightmare,” or the New York Post claiming the show is “a nasty piece of work.” Nonetheless, even with her often outrageous behavior, fans of teenage television and fashion alike will continue trying to replicate Serena’s scandalous style. As long as there is scandal, people will continue to engage in fashion trends and break the societal norms that stand in their way.
You know you love her,
A Vanderwoodsen World