Before there was “Gossip Girl,” which — in celebrating its 10th anniversary earlier this year — was once again championed as one of the key “fashion shows” on television of all time, there was “Sex and the City,” and before that there was “Dynasty.”
“When ‘Sex and the City’ went off the air, that was right before ‘Gossip Girl’ emerged, and we felt like that was an opening for us in that area,” says Stephanie Savage, who is behind the remodeled “Dynasty” for the CW generation along with Sallie Patrick, co-creator, and Josh Schwartz, with whom Savage also developed “Gossip Girl.” “And we feel that same opportunity right now.”
Together with Meredith Markworth-Pollack, who was “Gossip Girl” costume designer Eric Daman’s wardrobe assistant on the first few seasons of the series, the team has set out to deliver the drama the original “Dynasty” was known for in the Eighties, as well as larger-than-life fashion moments.
“When we first heard the ‘Dynasty’ title was available for a potential reimagining, it felt just incredibly relevant to the world we’re living in now, because like it or not we’re living in an age of dynasties and it’s inescapable in our culture right now,” Schwartz says. “Examining that from the inside out and reconstructing it was a really fun opportunity, while also trying to lock into all the ways that the world has changed. It also feels like right now we could all use a fun escape; something to change the channel from the news and escape into a world of fun and excess and characters who just can’t help but do bad things.”
“We tried to be inspired in the same way the original show was, in creating something that is really speaking to the time that we’re living in,” Savage says. “And we were so inspired by the original story architecture and characters of the show, which is something that anyone that’s been working in the primetime soap world for the last two or three decades has been a beneficiary of. Fashion was a huge part of ‘Gossip Girl’ and was a huge part of the original ‘Dynasty’ and I don’t think that those two things are unconnected.”
“I’m not going to lie, it was a little bit daunting,” says Markworth-Pollack of beginning work on the series, which she says she mostly bought for instead of borrowing. “You’re not going to top it, so how do you do it justice? How do we do our modern version of it? One of the points from Josh and Stephanie in the beginning was ‘it’s not an homage; we’re definitely going to honor the original and let’s take moments from the fashion for sure, but also it’s the CW and the demographic is a little bit younger. We know a lot of these young men and women watching the show won’t know what “Dynasty” was. So it also has to stand alone.’”
The original show drew heavily on the Forties, while the 2017 version is fittingly looking to the Eighties for inspiration.
“It was great timing, because the Eighties are having such a huge moment in fashion,” she says. “Balmain was the first one who popped into my mind, and they were the first one to respond. Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Alexandre Vauthier, Tom Ford, even Stella McCartney with her suiting, she puts in a little shoulder bump. Even some Michael Kors Collection and Ralph Lauren.”
She drew inspiration for Fallon Carrington from Giovanna Battaglia and Gigi Hadid, women she says can “wear many hats.” Speaking to the Mugler dress that Fallon wears in the pilot episode, Markworth-Pollack says she “didn’t want to pigeonhole her. I had this idea with Fallon that she dresses for the moment, she dresses for herself.”
The other female lead, Cristal, was dressed in a more “feminine, softer” way, wearing a blush Burberry lace trench and matching Gucci handbag when the audience first meets her. Stella McCartney, Chloé and Zimmermann were all used, as were various Latin designers such as Johanna Ortiz and Juan Carlos Obando. “Given her capability now that she’s married into this wealthy family, [Nathalie Kelley, who plays Cristal, and I felt that] she would support designers from Latin America,” Markworth-Pollack says of the Latina character.
Markworth-Pollack notes that “Gossip Girl” took time to catch on; designers weren’t eager to loan clothing initially, but once the show and its characters established itself as major players in the fashion world, brands were eager to have their pieces seen on the show. For the new “Dynasty,” which is now in its third week and is off to a slow start, with just 1.3 million viewers for its debut, the jury is still out — though the quantity of Gucci seems to suggest it aims to leave its mark.
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