‘Gossip Girl’ Costume Designer Talks the Show’s Gen Z Fashion Evolution

The costume design in “Gossip Girl” has pieced together an iconic generation of fashion, with the Manhattan private-school students oozing privilege and extravagance with their signature headbands, tea-length shimmery gowns, piped blazers and plaid, school uniforms. And now, over a decade after the show’s inception, when social media is intertwining more and more with everyday life, costume designer Eric Daman — who worked on both the original show and this year’s reboot — was given the opportunity to create all new looks for HBO Max’s “Gossip Girl” through a Gen Z lens.

“I feel like I have a very fresh point of view about it,” Daman said to TheWrap. “I was just able to leave the past behind, look at this as a whole new beginning and a whole new storyline with all new characters and have a very fresh, open-minded point of view about it. As far as inspiration, it didn’t have to be that Selena look or that Blair look; I was just able to turn that page, and I think it really freed up my design institution. Without having that time off, it would’ve been a very different style challenge for me.”

Daman also said that a huge part of the fashion evolution from 2007 to now was the influence that social media — specifically Instagram — has had, leading him to do a “deep dive” into the platform and its various influencers to see how they’ve manifested today’s clothing and each of the reboot’s characters’ sense of fashion and style.

“A huge part of the show’s storyline is just the way people interact,” Daman said. “We didn’t have Instagram back then [in 2007], but now, I did a very big deep dive into Instagram and influencers, trying to feel out who each character would follow and how Instagram’s relevance translates into the clothing of our characters. And the fact that we have much more access to style and fashion was very inspiring and helps give [the fashion] a fresh new look that we’re seeing on the show.”

For Julien (Jordan Alexander), the show’s resident influencer, rising model and all-around trendsetter, Daman said he looked to people like the Hadid sisters and Kaia Gerber to truly understand what it means to be an influencer and how that would translate into her style. And because Julien’s dad is a DJ and music producer, he looked at Rihanna and Beyoncé for inspiration.

For Zoya (Whitney Peak), a politically-minded and socially-aware transfer student from Buffalo as well as Julien’s little sister, Daman looked for inspiration elsewhere. He has her carry totes from Black-owned bookstores like Revolution Books in Harlem and wear more casual clothing like distressed denim and vintage flannels, before slowly showing how her sister and her group of friends has influenced her stylistically.

“The importance of brands and the actual visual identity that she carries with the clothing isn’t important to her until she gets to the Upper Eastside and sees what it represents to the rest of them and also realizes how she can wield [clothes] as power,” Daman said.

Referencing the series’ fourth episode in which Zoya has her 15th birthday and she and Julien throw dueling parties, Daman continued, “I think there she realizes that to show up in a Stella McCartney jumpsuit and a Louis Vuitton bag will carry much more power than if she showed up in her Levi’s overalls.”

And his favorite fashion moment from the reboot so far?

“The Christopher John Rogers fashion show was a huge coup for us, but I’m very excited we got to partner with Christopher,” said Daman. “Every time I see the scene, I still get goosebumps. It was fire. Literally.”