Tuesday, 13 January 2009

You Know You Love Him:Gossip Girl Stylist Eric Daman- NVU by Rachel Marie Walsh

Eric Daman curated the Gossip Girl windows at Bendels

Intro by DP, NVU by RMW:

I met Eric in 1992 when we were both working for six months as volunteers on the Balade de l’Amour, an AIDS benefit. There was a shop in Bastille called Magic Circle, Eric worked there and it was obvious to everyone that Eric had an exceptional eye and a way of putting things together like no one else. At that time Steven Meisel discovered him and put him in a controversial photo spread that had tongues wagging that the models were underage.Eric was on the cover and I think at the time he was 21. Eric left Paris for New York, originally as a model and by the request of Steven Meisel. In Paris he had modeled as a saint for the photographers Pierre and Gilles. He’s in several books if you want to take a look.

The photos are beautiful. Time passed since Eric moved to New York  we did not see each other very much over the next number of years. In fact the last time that I saw Eric was September 11, 2001, the day the towers went tumbling down. We spent the afternoon surrounded by the collection and amazing storyboard for Pierrot’s fashion show that was not to take place. Not that week at any rate. At that time Eric was a costume designer for  films and also was working with Patricia Fields on Sex and the City. One day our mutual friend, Pierrot, told me that Eric was the costume designer behind the show Gossip Girls. Of course I was aware of the stir that the television show was causing. Among untold others, my contributor, Rachel Walsh is a great admirer of Eric’s work, I asked her if she would like to interview Eric for my site. And here you go…

Interview between Eric and Rachel:

The clothes on the show, like the characters themselves, differ greatly from those featured in the book (e.g. in the GG books, the Blair character expresses a hatred for headbands whereas the on-screen version has made the accessory popular again). Do the GG books inspire you at all? Are you inspired by any other books? 

I read all the GG books on the beach in Hawaii right before starting the series. There are definitely some nods to the books but they are a bit dated in their references. We really wanted to make a super contemporary counterpart to the books including the cutting edge fashion these girls wear.

Alexander Wang and Vena Cava were definitely not mentioned in the books but are essential on the fashion scene in today’s NYC. I felt it really important to incorporate these young designers into the vocabulary of the show as the socialite girls that GG is based on would know these designers, be the first to find them and the first to wear them. Think Zac Posen and Lola Schnabel…

When did you realise GG fashion was having the same impact on young people as SATC style had on its audience?

I actually feel that we are having a different impact, in that we are reaching a much larger demographic then SATC. We have a giant following of much younger girls that are super tech-savvy and knowledgeable about fashion. The web has really opened boundaries that we never could cross when making SATC.  I went into designing the show knowing this and with the intention of starting a pop culture movement of sorts, but of course you never know if it is going to be successful but so far so good. 

We've seen Jenny's style evolve from Blair Waldorf-wannabe in early Season 1 to edgy rocker in the most recent episodes. Is this actress Taylor Momsen’s influence as, again, Jenny is no rock chick in the novels? 

It just makes sense for what is going on in the downtown scene in NYC as well as how her character needed to evolve.  Taylor was definitely a part of the decisions as far as where Lil J was going stylistically.  She got turned on to The Runaways (70s US rock band) and (lead singer) Cherie Currie, who I love and think is a great icon for a teen girl to emulate stylistically

Your protégée, Blake Lively, was named one of Vogue US' Top 10 Best Dressed of 2008 (congratulations!). Her character's style is very Manhattan-via-London, and you've been quoted as saying she channels Sienna Miller and Kate Moss. Will we see you do an apparel line, like those two?

I will let you know once the contracts are signed.

Congratulations on your partnership with Charlotte Russe (US young women’s clothing chain Mr Daman provides with insights into the latest trends and styles, advises on creative direction and assists with product design and merchandise development). Your European fan base needs you too! Do you have any high-street favourites in London? 

Topshop Topshop Topshop!

Chuck Bass, who you have described as your favourite character to work on, is distinctly Parisian in his louche sexiness and confident execution of experimental looks. Does Bass channel your personal style? What are your favourite Bass looks? 

Bass goes beyond my personal style, I wish I had the money and youth to carry off his looks.  It’s just un rêve (a dream) to dress a womanizing straight boy in such dandy apparel.  I’ve read blogs from different colleges that actually have Chuck Bass Fridays. There is a whole movement behind him and his wardrobe which is sooo gratifying because, lets face it, men really should dress better.   There is no one favourite look, I just try to keep him up to par each episode, which is no easy task

Can you describe the styling process for each episode, from the time you see the script to the promotions for the show? 

The process is almost analytical at this point, as the scripts dictate more or less the necessities of the episode, e.g. they are in school so they need uniforms or they are going to a debutante ball so they need debutante gowns etc…when it comes down to it, it is a formula the styling process itself is about making the best looks to animate the scene, help tell the story and look fabulous.

Clothing and jewellery are often fundamental to the show’s plot themselves (e.g. the Valentino dress Jenny steals, the Erickson Beamon diamonds Chuck buys Blair). Do the GG writers consult with you when referencing fashion? 

Yes, I do suggest names to drop and incorporate

 Do you design the Eleanor Waldorf and Jenny Humphrey “original” clothing yourself?

I do design the Jenny Humphrey line but a young designer named Abigail Lorick designs the Waldorf collection.  She has received amazing press, is on sale at Barney’s (click here for European stockists) and had her first show last fashion week.

You are famous for mixing accessibly priced pieces with high-end designer clothing, what are the most expensive and least expensive items ever featured on GG?                                                                                              

Expensive: Serena’s $25,000 Ferragamo boots, Lily’s $850,000 Van Cleef & Arpels wedding jewellery.   Least Expensive:  we use so much inexpensive stuff I wouldn’t know how to list it. We use many shoes, clothes and accessories from stores like H and M, payless, 9 West and Forever 21

What are your five key pieces for spring 2009?

The perfect trench in khaki or bright; a French sailor tee, a timeless classic; white jeans, skinny if you can do it; a dress or skirt conjuring Hitchcock’s Marnie (Tippi Hedren as a chic thief, look here) in an artsy aquarelle and a statement necklace. 

Eric and kittens

vintage xmas photo of Eric at home years ago with his cats

Posted by Rachel Marie Walsh at 11:42 PM | Permalink


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Eric Daman is a genius.

Posted by: Mike | Oct 12, 2012 10:31:58 PM

Thank you for the interview with Eric. The clothes are half the reason I watch Gossip Girl religiously every week, and have since the beginning. I keep hoping for a winter break episode in the mountains, because I would love to see how Eric would dress them for Vail or Chamonix.

Posted by: Rian | May 15, 2009 7:41:02 PM

Love your website and this interview with Eric Daman, so much so that I have recommended it to my readers on my website. I am not a great fan of the Gossip Girl show however I do enjoy looking at the style here and there. He does a great job for what the show is supposed to represent. I wish him luck and the fact that he got to work on the of Sex and the City makes me a bit jealous.

Posted by: le la Moda | Jan 13, 2009 7:50:17 PM

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