From the Valley to the Upper East Side: Lily Van Der Woodsen’s Style Cross-Over (1st Season)

While all the Net rants and raves about the style of Gossip Girl‘s Blair Waldorf and Serena Van Der Woodsen, I always drool over the outfits of Serena’s mother, Lily Van Der Woodsen. I love her character (absent-minded and indecisive yet strong, prim yet rule-breaker: she’s a woman of contrasts), her complex personal story, the mysteries and rumours about her past (she even modelled for Robert Mapplethorpe), her love for photography, rock music…and rock singers! While Blair and Serena play their own power games, Lily tries to fit herself in a new life, next to a powerful and rich husband, but she’s still haunted by her past [1].

She is originally from a wealthy family in California and her life has always been marked by music (her father, Rick Rhodes, was a music executive, and her greatest love, Rufus Humphrey, was the frontman of a rock band, the Lincoln Hawke, in the 80s/90s). This background, mixed to her present marital and social status, has a great importance in her style: her outfits are usually understated, formal at times, but there’s always a twist in what she wears (a detail, an accessory, a funky piece of jewellery), a reminder of her being a rock chick inside. Let’s take a look at some outfits she sports in the first season of the show.

The pilot episode of Gossip Girl introduces most of the characters of the show, Lily included. When Serena comes back to New York, her mother is at a party at the Waldorf’s. The first image of Lily we are given is very formal: she’s wearing a sleeveless black dress, her blonde hair is styled into a bun, so she’s really the image of modesty and understatement.

As the story carries on, it becomes clear what are the stamples of Lily’s style, which vaguely resembles her daughter’s: she often wears jeans or trousers, she loves cardigans and cozy cashmere sweaters in neutral colours, she sometimes wears leather jackets and trenches, and has a thing for Hermès accessories [2].

The look she sports in the pilot, when she visits Rufus’ art gallery, is sublime: she pairs flared jeans and a simple tank top with a long metallic leather jacket, a knitted scarf and a gorgeous Hermès Birkin bag in tan ostrich, a touch of Upper East Side in a casual outfit.

She carries the same bag (a sort of trademark) in Hi, Society, too: this outfit is all about neutrals. She wears a sweater dress, pairing it with the Birkin bag, a cashmere shawl, Hermès gold stud earrings and another Hermès piece, the Medor watch, which she always has on her wrist. This is an iconic watch, classic and punk at the same time: it looks like a studded leather bracelet, but the dial is hidden under the central stud.

Lily loves Hermès bags: she owns a Birkin and two Kellys, one black and one beige [3]. We first see the black one during The Wild Brunch episode. In this case, she is wearing a formal outfit, made of a black skirt, a brocade short-sleeved jacket and a jacket with the jeweled neckline. The squared lines of the Kelly bag underline the formal idea which the outfit is built on.

In the Thanksgiving Day’s episode, Blair Waldorf Must Pie!, Lily carries her black Kelly bag and has again the Medor watch around her wrist. The black and white silk scarf around her neck is of course another Hermès piece. She keeps the rest of the outfit simple, with black jacket and trousers, and a long-sleeved cotton tee under the jacket.

In the same episode, at last we get a glimpse of her complex personality. Lily is not only a New York socialite, because she also has a bohemian side. I love the blouse she’s wearing at the Humphreys’ Thankgiving lunch: it is worn over a silk shirt and is intricately embroidered at the hem, with cut-outs on the sleeves. She is still wearing her trusty Medor watch around the wrist.

It has been already said that Lily finds some difficulty in forgetting her past, and this is so much true when Rufus is around. Lily asks him to be her companion at her wedding dress’ fitting. While perusing some diamond bracelets for her wedding day, the black Kelly bag can be seen hanging from her arm. The outfit she has in this scene is so nice: she pairs a green skirt with a floral printed silk shirt and a fitted jacket with black profiles. The colours apparently do not match, but the result is flawless.

While having breakfast at the New York Palace with her family in The Blair Witch Project, she’s wearing a dress with the jeweled neckline, made special by the iridescent fabric and by white profiles. Her accessory is a Hermès Kelly Double Tour bracelet, made of white leather.

In Dare Devil, while paying a visit to her son Eric,  she wears another Hermès iconic piece, the Constance belt, with the big metal ‘H’ on the front. The rest of the outfit is perfect: a silk shirt with a bow, black trousers and a beige jacket.

In Victor/Victrola Lily switches her Medor watch for another Hermès watch, the Kelly 2, similar in shape to the Kelly Double Tour leather bracelet.

Here are some pics of Lily’s beloved Hermès accessories.

Lily’s Medor watch is in tan leather, while her Kelly 2 watch is in Potiron Orange leather.

Lily loves Hermès accessories, which can be considered a symbol of luxury, but she does not wear big jewels, because she likes keeping her style simple and understated most of the time. Apart from the gold stud earrings, she was also spotted wearing Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra earrings in gold and mother-of-pearl.

The clover motif is inspired to a famous Van Cleef & Arpels vintage design. Lily will wear a turquoise necklace from the same line in an episode of the second season of the show.

On the wedding day, the social status requires diamonds, so Lily wears a gorgeous diamond necklace with pearl pendants, but the rest of her look is simple. She wears flower-shaped earrings, a sublime Vera Wang strapless wedding dress and little white orchids in her hair.

Here is a better view of Lily’s wedding dress during the fitting: it’s strapless, it has draped bodice and full skirt, a precious cascade of silk flowers on one side.   I love this scene, when Rufus sees Lily trying on her wedding dress: the old feelings for her resurface and this eventually will lead to the romantic scene on Lily’s wedding day.

Since Lily Van Der Woodsen is one of my favourite characters of the show (the others are Blair and Chuck, of course), I’ll devote a special space to her style in this blog, so keep in touch for some updates of her outfits from the first season.

[1] Lily is the title of a Gossip Girl spin-off, which intends to fill in many of the mysteries of Lily’s life before the original series. The protagonist will supposedly be played by Brittany Snow.

[2] Lily’s role is played by the American actress Kelly Rutherford. She has a three-year-old son, Hermès Gustaf Daniel Giersch, and is expecting another baby from her now ex husband, the German businessman Daniel Giersch. I know these are probably coincidences, but isn’t it strange that her name is the same as a Hermès bag and that she named her son Hermès? It could not be coincidental if the character she plays in Gossip Girl loves the French maison so much.

[3] She carries the beige Kelly in the second season.

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22 comments

  1. And what do you think about Lipstike Jungle, the last serial from the Candace Bushnell book?
    I’ve seen a couple of episode on Skylife, but I’ve found it a deeply disappointment … It looks a lot like Desperate Housewives in NY, but without dark humour, don’t you think?

    1. No, I haven’t watched Lipstick Jungle and I have no intention to do it in the future. Some time ago I read the book by C. Bushnell and I didn’t like it at all, so I am really not interested in a serial which sounds so boring.

  2. Ciao,
    ti ho sempre letto con piacere e lo faccio anche ora complimentandomi per la “svolta”.

    Che dire di Lily,i suoi outfit sono eleganti ,misurati,conformi allo status e all’età alcune volte secondo me,troppo sobri,ma comunque quasi perfetti.
    Se interessa il parere di una come me che pur nn essendo più teen guarda le puntate della serie c.a. 3 volte,due per cercare di capire bene le battute (dopo tutto la lingua si migliora anche così giusto prof.?) ed una per studiare tutti gli outfit,posso dire di aver particolarmente apprezzato del personaggio di Lily l’abito di Maz Azria indossato per l’opera in “You’ve got Yale”(un mio sogno l’abito di Dior di Blair indossato per la stessa occasione)
    e l’abito da sposa di Vera wang diventato abito da sera per il snowflake ball in “It’s a wonderful lie”.

    Ne discuterei per ore,lunga vita a GG.

    A.

  3. Concordo: lunghissima vita a Gossip Girl, serial che mi sta molto appassionando, sia per le vicende narrate e gli intrecci, sia per gli outfit delle sue protagoniste. Purtroppo non ho ancora visto gli episodi che citi nel tuo commento (ho appena finito di guardare ‘Chuck in Real Life’, quindi sono proprio all’inizio della seconda serie), ma spero di recuperare presto. Adoro il personaggio di Lily e il suo stile, perchè è classico, sobrio, ma a volte nasconde quel guizzo di vivacità che lo rende unico. Preferisco lo stile di Blair a quello di Serena, inoltre, perchè penso sia una perfetta rilettura contemporanea del preppy/wasp, ma ormai sta diventando un po’ prevedibile.

  4. Ti assicuro che durante tutta la seconda serie Blair nn farà che darci delle grandi soddisfazioni,certo stà crescendo dunque alcune volte sarà più Ladylike di altre ma ti assicurò che E.Daman (e tutto il suo gruppo) continua a fare con lei e Chuck un lavoro straordinario,per esempio è a mio avviso superba nelll’ultima puntata vista,”The grandfather”,la trasformazione di un Herver Leger dallo stile apparentemente scontato (trovi le foto online mi piacerebbe avere un tuo parere).
    La sceneggiatura fra l’altro nn fa che migliorare.
    Scusa nn voglio intasarti oltre il blog.

    A.

    1. Ma figurati! Io passerei ore a parlare di Gossip Girl, della trama, dei personaggi e del loro stile. Per quanto ho amato ‘Sex and the City’, devo dire che GG, a confronto, è infinitamente più curato, complesso e raffinato, oltre al fatto che lo trovo molto più coinvolgente. Senza ombra di dubbio, la rilettura dello stile preppy/wasp su Blair e Chuck (a proposito: ieri sera ho visto ‘Pret-a-Poor-J’, episodio in cui Chuck sfoggia una giacca meravigliosa) è notevole ed originale, il che li rende i personaggi meglio vestiti dell’intero serial. Serena invece è una delusione: nella seconda serie, dopo la rottura con Dan, si è buttata molto su banali abitini molto scollati, una noia. Lodi lodi lodi a Lily, che tra una borsa Hèrmes, una collana con turchesi di Van Cleef & Arpels, jeans e blusa fiorata, è sempre la mia preferita!
      Tornando a Blair, ho presente l’outfit a cui ti riferisci e devo dire che ha piacevolmente stupito anche me. Purtroppo i bandage dress di Leger sono diventati terreno di caccia di starlette di ogni ordine e grado, e questa sovraesposizione li ha resi un po’ banali e scontati; il modo però in cui un vestito dall’altissimo potenziale sexy viene reso addirittura elegante ha del miracoloso.

  5. Meraviglioso il completo di chuck in quella puntata!,mentre cerca di convincere Blair che dirsi “ti amo” nel loro caso non è poi così conveniente…,

    Daman dice di attingere molto per il personaggio dalla Black Fleece di Brooks Brothers,credo che anche nel caso in questione potrebbe aver preso spunto e non solo dalla collezione,che ne dici?.
    In teoria come personal shopper dovrei occuparmi solo di donne,ma Chuck Bass mi stà facendo scoprire un universo di fashion maschile da sballo,e chi ci stà rimettendo è solo mio marito!:-).

    A.

    1. Chuck in quella puntata è vestito in maniera impeccabile, a mio parere! Daman non solo ha preso spunto dalla collezione Black Fleece, ma dal mood stesso che sta alla base della filosofia Brooks Brothers (il rispetto della tradizione con un turn a volte eccentrico).

      Ehi, non sapevo che fossi una personal shopper! Mestiere affascinante!

  6. Ciao.
    Innanzitutto ci tenevo a farti i complimenti: leggo sempre con molto interesse i tuoi post (che, devo dire, sono scritti benissimo anche in inglese). Sono finora stato un lettore silenzioso, ma dopo questo post su Lily Van Der Woodsen ho pensato di scriverti. L’ho trovata subito un personaggio di grande interesse sia per la bellezza dell’attrice che per la particolare cura con la quale è vestita. Finora però mi era parso che fosse stata un po’ ignorata quindi ti vorrei ringraziare per questo splendido post.
    DandyBoy.

    1. Grazie per i complimenti, mi fa molto piacere riceverne in relazione a questo nuovo blog. Attualmente non ho idea di cosa ne pensino coloro che mi leggevano su Splinder, quindi sapere che a qualcuno approva (e non si lamenta) i post scritti in inglese è molto importante per me. Sono inoltre contenta che questo post abbia riscosso il tuo interesse, soprattutto perchè ho deciso di concentrarmi su Lily proprio per il motivo di cui parli anche tu. La Rete è intasata di blog e siti che danno un resoconto puntualissimo di cosa indossano Blair e Serena nel serial, mentre su Lily non sono mai riuscita a trovare qualcosa di completo, quindi ho provato a rimediare io alla mancanza 🙂

  7. I really don’t complain about the language change, at least I have a chance to exercise my rusty English! Lily is gorgeous and exhudes upper-class elegance from every pore. BTW, I’d love to start following GG from the beginning. I just have to find the old episodes somewhere…
    Your blog is even more interesting as before, and I also love the platform you are using: WordPress is, IMHO, one of the best blogging tools on the market 🙂
    Hugs,
    FrauB

    1. I’ve chosen WordPress because I think it’s the best blogging platform, too. I was so sick of Splinder and of its restraints! I’m completely hooked up to Gossip Girl, I’ve spent the last two days watching two/three episodes, one after the other, the screenplay is amazing!

  8. adorata per una che come me conosce solo i francese è davvero difficile continuare a seguirti….lo so, sono antica, ma non posso farci nulla..un bacio grande a te e a binaca

  9. Fantastic! I think Lily is a great style icon for those of us in our 30s and 40s. Too often, Hollywood depicts any woman past her 20s as either an aged frump OR some sad sex-pot who tries to cling to her youth by wearing jeans that are too tight, breast implants that are too big and clothes that look as tho’ they have been borrowed from the closet of her teen daughter.

    Lily lets Serena be the young GIRL in the family; she knows that being a youthful WOMAN is oh-so-much better.

    1. Hi Sofia!
      I’ve received many messages about these eyeglasses. I’ve asked many sites which usually identify sunglasses/eyeglasses seen on celebrities to help me, but no one has identified them. My guess is that they are an old style by Alain Mikli, but I’m not 100% sure. If I have news, I’ll let you know.

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