How ‘Gossip Girl’ Recreated the Met Gala for an Epic Farewell—Its Own Way


As impossible as it may sound, throughout its entire six-season run, the original Gossip Girl series never saw its characters attend the Met Gala. Considering the entire show was about fashion-obsessed, über-wealthy teenagers who dominated New York society, it’s almost absurd that Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf didn’t ever brawl at the city’s biggest and brightest event. I mean, they even met on the Met steps daily before school, for God’s sake! 

Blame boring old logistics for this narrative gap. 

Stephanie [Savage] and I wanted to do it the first time around. We tried—we started down the road and the road was good,” Gossip Girl reboot showrunner Josh Safran, who was also executive producer on the series’ original run, tells Vanity Fair. “The only problem became that, given the network schedule, we would have had to produce the Met Gala ourselves in February before it would happen in real life, and back when we made the original, the [gala] theme was not announced that early. We also didn’t necessarily have the budget back then to do it.”

Thankfully—and before its untimely demise—the Gossip Girl reboot on HBO Max provided both the opportunity and, importantly, the budget to make a Met Gala happen. Its second season was timed perfectly to coincide with the 2022 Met Gala themed “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” as our Constance Billard–St. Jude’s students were in their spring semester at that time. And for a show known to have every episode culminate in a Big Event, where bigger or better to end the season (and, again, the series) than at the Met Gala?

By Craig Blankenhorn/HBO Max.

While the team briefly considered filming at the real deal, recreating the event made more sense from a production perspective, which is how a second set of Met steps, all decked out in the gala’s theme, was recreated on a soundstage at Brooklyn’s Steiner Studios. “We built a replica of the stairs to size,” Safran says. “It’s probably the most expensive set we ever built for the show—like, by far.”

There were no shortcuts here: It wasn’t possible to have real carpeting, because cameras needed to be able to move up and down, so set designers painted sisal to replicate the pattern seen in every shot from the 2022 event. And in the cameo department, Gossip Girl brought in fashion insiders like Vogue’s José Criales-Unzueta and Oscar de la Renta’s Fernando Garcia to play bit parts and better nail that inside-access feel, peppering the event with details that only those in the know would fully appreciate.

As is often the case for Gossip Girl—and definitely the case for the Met Gala, both real and imagined—the real star of the show is the fashion. Gossip Girl costume designer Eric Daman saw an opportunity to use the moment—often a straight-from-runway spotlight for many of the world’s largest, most established houses—to showcase an eclectic mix of all-American pieces, including some from lesser-known designers, archival pieces, vintage, and even some heritage handcrafts that nodded to the gala’s themes while staying true to the show’s characters. 

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