A Gossip Girl Guide to NYC
by Claire Lui, 09/08/2010
- more in shopping/
- more in dining/
After a brief summer sojourn to Paris to open its fourth season, Gossip Girl headed right back home to the Big Apple for another year of fashion, scheming and, of course, gossip. Filmed on location around the City, the soap is probably the best televised barometer of what's hot and what's not in New York since Sex and the City, with its constant references to the City's boutiques, restaurants and hotels. For instance, Blair (Leighton Meester) has been spotted filming at the Carlos Miele boutique in the Meatpacking District, while Lily (Kelly Rutherford) attended an event at Diane von Furstenberg's store. DVF herself even appeared in an episode. In addition to the wrap-dress purveyor's presence on the show, two of this season's episodes took place at Fashion's Night Out–related events, with cameos from Vogue editors Meredith Melling Burke, Hamish Bowles and Lauren Santo Domingo, as well as from nycgo.com's own creative director, Willy Wong.
For the guide below, we collected some of the shops, restaurants and attractions around the City that have been mentioned and appeared in the show over the past three seasons. Decide which cast member you might be (elegant Blair Waldorf or a loyal maid?) and plan your trip around town accordingly. It's just the way to hit all the right spots.
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Serena and Lily van der Woodsen
If you consider yourself a van der Woodsen—you know: blond, wealthy, faux bohemian and prone to impulsive acts—start with your apartment. Serena and Lily fancy themselves artists' muses, and they decorate accordingly. (Remember when Lily revealed that she had posed nude for Robert Mapplethorpe?) All of the art in the apartment is from the Art Production Fund, and you can visit its SoHo gallery, APF Lab, for the newest exhibitions. The fund sells reasonably priced reproductions of the apartment's art (including Richard Phillips' Spectrum and Elmgreen & Dragset's "Prada Marfa" sign) through its online store, worksonwhatever.com. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the furniture in the apartment is from ABC Carpet & Home, the ultimate rich-hippie home-furnishings store.
Mom and daughter have different tastes in clothes—Serena favors bod-con dresses cut down to there—but the two of them agree on footwear: they are both almost always clad in Christian Louboutin's superhigh stilettos with his signature red soles. Like her mother, Serena wears them effortlessly—she might have lost her phone at Chelsea's trendy 1OAK, but she didn't lose her balance. And if you want to visit the place where it all began (the Nate-Serena hookup at the Shepard wedding, natch), stop by The Campbell Apartment, Grand Central's luxuriously cozy bar.
Rufus, Dan and Jenny Humphrey
The Brooklyn posse of Gossip Girl is poor (relatively), creative and totally self-righteous about all of their so-called hardships. If you're smug and earnest about all of your hipster endeavors (or you just love to wear plaid unironically), the Humphreys are your perfect guides to the City.
Dan, during his summer internship for author Jay McInerney, goes to one of McInerney's readings at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, the used bookshop that New York writers love to love. (In another nod to McInerney, Dan writes with a pen stolen from The Odeon, the TriBeCa eatery that famously appears on the cover of Bright Lights, Big City.) At New York University, Dan and Vanessa constantly name-drop real-life student hangouts, including Mamoun's Falafel, Bar None and The Fat Black Pussycat. Meanwhile, Rufus' former art space is actually The Front Room Gallery in—where else?—Williamsburg. And in season one, back when Jenny still aspired to fit in on the Upper East Side, she browsed Henri Bendel for inspiration for her homemade frocks. Now, Little J, once so innocent, has embraced a 17-going-on-40 rocker look (on the show and in real life). In fact, Taylor Momsen, who plays Jenny, is the face of the new line of clothing from Madonna and her daughter, Lourdes called Material Girl. Aimed at tweens and teens and available at Macy's, the collection includes tulle miniskirts and cropped fake leather jackets. Papa, don't preach.
Blair and Eleanor Waldorf
Blair Waldorf, ignored by her fashion designer mother and brought up by the maid, is clearly ill at ease with her college cohorts. She's counting down the days until she can take her place as an Upper East Side society queen, and thus is the perfect guide to the City's urban haute bourgeoisie. Fittingly, her calendar is filled with benefits and parties at New York establishments, including Sotheby's, whose own Vice Chairman David Redden plays an auctioneer in an episode. Blair's favorite restaurant is also a classic, too-old-for-her-age pick: Danny Meyer's Gramercy Tavern. But Blair does, for the most part, try to dress age appropriately, though she's significantly more prim and proper than Serena. She went shopping for the dress that Chuck's Uncle Jack would later use to blackmail her at Meatpacking District boutique Matthew Williamson and ignored her mother's store nearby (in reality, Rubin Chapelle). Eleanor Waldorf, less uptight than her daughter, is always looking for something to give her brand buzz, holding her Fashion Week show at over-the-top Lower East Side venue Capitale, which occupies the landmark Bowery Savings Bank building, designed by Stanford White.
Lapel pins, silk patchwork scarves, velvet blazers, bow ties and ascots—Chuck Bass is probably the most fashionable of all the gossip girls. A dandy, a roué, a teenaged hotelier and an orphan, Chuck can teach Dan Humphrey (and you!) a thing or two about how to properly treat a lady in New York. First, buy a hotel. The Upper West Side's Empire Hotel was Chuck's first purchase as a baby mogul. (The actual hotel offers a lineup of Gossip Girl–themed cocktails at the bar, including the "Lonely Boy" and "Jenny's Tartlet.") Then, buy the most outlandish items at the most old-fashioned clothiers. Chuck's wardrobe comes from the likes of Ivy League favorite J.Press, British export Turnbull & Asser and preppy staple Brooks Brothers. And don't be afraid to leave the Upper East Side—Chuck is always ready to find new business opportunities around town. He accompanied Blair on a double date with Nate and Bree to Golden Unicorn Restaurant, Chinatown's dim sum palace, and tried to woo Vanessa in a misguided bid at Boerum Hill's Brooklyn Inn. Wherever you go, just remember the magic line: "I'm Chuck Bass." It works anywhere. Well, almost.
Oh, the help. Everyone knows that Dorota is the real brains behind every gossip girl shenanigan and Cyrus Rose is the heart (and conscience) of the Waldorf women. Cyrus (played by the fabulous Wallace Shawn) started out as Eleanor Waldorf's employee: her divorce lawyer. After marrying Eleanor, he is now part of the family, but still gets bossed around by Blair. If you want to see the City his way, make like Cyrus and invite your difficult stepdaughter to go shopping at the designer discount store Century 21. The horrors of Prada on sale! (We recommend the Brooklyn branch for the best selection.) Or head to Astoria World Manor in Queens, where Cyrus and Chuck Bass planned Dorota's wedding to doorman Vanya. We're not sure if Dorota's new baby will mean less time for her to help Miss Blair feed the ducks in Central Park, but we take it she'll still find time to support her beloved Mets at Citi Field.
For even more insider info on the show, check out the Gossip Girl–themed tour featured in this Teen-Friendly NYC Itinerary.