Something to Talk About
Published June 2, 2009
On “Gossip Girl,” where visibility, image, and influence speak louder than money, Abigail Lorick is a behind-the-scenes force to be reckoned with. Her radiant, prim dresses, which are attributed on-screen to Blair Waldorf’s mother, Eleanor, fill the wardrobes of Blair, Serena, Jenny and their frenemies since the series’ inception. They’re as central to the show’s style identity as oversized headbands, prep-school plaid, and colored tights. If “Gossip Girl” revealed the origins of characters’ wardrobes in her reports of their devious antics, Lorick’s eponymous brand would achieve instant, real world household name status. But it’s a mutually benefitial arrangement: Lorick was as soon as the show premiered, and gave the Girls early-adopter caché in return for mass marketing. Says the designer, “Lorick’s first season was on ‘Gossip Girl’. We essentially launched at the same time. So we really do not know life without it.” In one particularly memorable episode this past season, Eleanor Waldorf stages a lengthy fashion show around Lorick’s designs. Retail demand skyrocketed.
“Gossip Girl” might mean Lorick dresses to lots of dresses, but the designer says that rather than being character-driven, design stories come first. For the proverbial “Lorick Lady” represents a feminine ideal—ambitious, nostalgic, and a little fey—that reflects the designer’s own storybook journey from a Southern belle to teenage jet-setting model to New York designer. Lorick now resides on the Lower East Side, where she is a fashionable fixture and these days, she admits to Interview, she rarely dwells above Houston Street, proving you can take a girl out of the South but, well, maybe you can’t.
COLLEEN NIKA: Growing up, what was your first fashion moment?
ABIGAIL LORICK: My yellow ballet chicken costume for my first recital. I would pitch fits if I could not sleep in it. The heavy tulle would imbed wicker lined patterns on my body.
CN: Did you come from a fashion background?
AL: No. I grew up on an island, although I started buying Vogue in fifth grade.
CN: When did you become a model?
AL: I started at fifteen, and truth be told I knew one day I really wanted to be a fashion designer. It was a door into the industry.
CN: What was an influential moment during your modeling days?
AL: Meeting Alberta Ferretti and walking in one of her shows. And seeing models pass out at a presentation that I was in; they started dropping like flies. It was kind of hysterical.
CN: Did modeling lead you to design or was it something you always aspired to do?
AL: It was something I always aspired to do.
CN: You often say the South couldn’t contain you, but does the “Southern Belle” legacy influence your taste in fashion?
AL: Yes, it does! We appreciate color and big sweeps. But I knew at age seven, that this is where I wanted to be.
CN: How did you initially get involved with “Gossip Girl?”
AL: Meredith Markworth Pollack (assistant stylist) and Eric Damen are good friends of mine. They actually proposed to the producers that there be a ghost designer behind Elleanor Waldorf. I went in with the collection and met the producers and it was just a great fit.
CN: What was the first outfit that made it onto the show? Who wore it?
AL: It was the “GG” dress. There was an electric blue strapless dress that Blair gave to Jenny, because her mom designed it and she said it was so outdated and “so last season”…. Then Jenny tried it on and stared at herself in the mirror. It was great, because the dress was supposed to represent the world that she envied and wanted to be a part of. The dress mentally took her to that world.
CN: Who is your favorite character to dress?
AL: Leighton [Blair Waldorf], of course!
CN:What outfit featured on the show proved to be biggest hit with customers?
AL: The backless dresses that Leighton (Blair) and Blake (Serena van Der Woodsen) wore in the “Bad News Blair” episode.
CN: Do you enjoy the connection the Lorick brand shares with Gossip Girl or do you think it might potentially limit your appeal to other customers?
AL: I enjoy the connection. The “Gossip Girl” team is a great team, it has been an absolute pleasure working with them. Lorick will evolve on it’s own accord; we will see if the “Gossip Girl” sticks with us. I believe she will.
CN: Will you be involved next season?
AL: The Lorick brand will always be the brand of Eleanor Waldorf. It isup to the producers if she will be written in the script.
CN: Gossip Girl loves to play with the distinction between the socialites and artsy hipsters. Do you associate more with the “downtown” or “uptown” fashion and nightlife agenda?
AL: I don’t really go above Houston Street. But I do love the clean, chic, old school lines of uptown. A wonderful trait of our Lorick lady is that she is the Uptown girl in a Downtown world by choice.
CN: Who is the “Lorick Lady”?
AL: She loves playing dress up, she finds it as one of life’s greatest pleasures. She wears gloves in the summertime and oyster shells in her hair. She is independent, loves working, loves life, enjoysaging, she is a free spirit, and a delight to have in the room. She enjoys writing thank you notes. AL: She is a modern version of my grandmother. She is found in the women all around me that are pursing their dreams, that is where their real beauty comes from.