13 September 2010

The Goddess Guide to NY by Gisèle Scanlon!

Since its debut, Gossip Girl, a tantalizing glimpse into the glamorous, sometimes sordid, world of New York City’s upper east side (or UES) high-school students has become a tv must-see. Grazia Daily meets Gisèle Scanlon (aka The Goddess Guide) and asks her to share her favourite Manhattan haunts with the us and the cast of Gossip Girl... 

You need to know this name: Firmly on our radar these days is Goddess Guides author Gisèle Scanlon. It’s not often that a single writing talent emerges that knows about the coolest underground happenings in several cities simultaneously and can illustrate, photograph and write about them with a huge dose of fashion humour. But when it does and her books sell well in excess of a million copies then the buzz is justified. With her fashion/beauty/travel cool-hunting books becoming the read du jour (Paris Hilton and Courtney Love were photographed recently with copies) this hip young below-the-radar writer is the go to guide for the Gossip Girl generation in the US and the UK. Unapologetically contemporary, refreshingly bling-free, she has upended pop culture in her own image with her cute drawings and hip fashion travel tales. Her USP is notable for its simplicity. A funny Irish girl who has a knack for building a Goddess world that you just want to live in (and in tough economic times that’s a good thing non?) Her ‘open arms’ attitude and the ability to talk with a stranger about a single thing for over twenty minutes will make you smile out loud. No wonder, then, that the people behind the hugely popular Gossip Girl have asked Gisèle Scanlon exclusively to share her UK hang outs with the Gossip Girl cast. So, take it away, Gisèle....

I know quite a bit about ‘Gossip Girl’ the show following a group of privileged teenagers who live, for the most part, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and attend the fictional St. Judes School for Boys and Constance Billard School for Girls. The plots in ‘Gossip Girl’ are not unlike a couple of my favourite Truman Capote’s books (namely Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Summer Crossing) which really made an impact on my life while I was in an all girls boarding school.

Many years later, while in New York researching my second Goddess Guide book I stumbled upon an episode of Gossip Girl being filmed on the steps of The Museum of the City of New York. Looking back on my notes, I wrote, ‘The Museum of the City of New York, is being made to look like Gossip Girl’s Constance Billard School for Girls’ followed by THEY’RE USING PLASTIC SIGNS THAT LOOK LIKE REAL BRASS ON THE WALLS. (I go all captastic when extra excited about the tiny deatails). I’ve come to love the show mainly because of the fashion (Vena Cava, Alexander Wang, Lorick) are actually labels I care about and maybe it’s because, far from being just another teen show,  ‘Gossip Girl, is not unlike parts of my Goddess Guide books, we both somehow, try to just capture the zeitgeist of the ‘GG’ moment. (‘GG’ being both my nickname since I was two and in turn the inspiration behind the name for my ‘Goddess Guide’ books. And now by some fluke of fashion it’s also the monogram for the hugely popular teen idol drama ‘Gossip Girl ’so maybe that’s why they looked me up?? ) It’s fashion fate! Or FF! Regardless, I’ve LOADS to share…

WHO? Blake Lively aka Serena van der Woodsen
WE ♥ HER BECAUSE? Home from a wild summer in Europe, she’s being stalked by the paparazzi but still remains sunny and warm as a giant golden retriever. Her effortless beauty is hard to describe. Despite life’s challenges, good things always seem to come her way. Sure, it’s every woman’s dream to own a one-off gown, so who could blame Serena van der Woodsen for being a bit smitten since she made her name way back (she arrived at Eleanor Waldorf’s fashion show, only to be clad in a made-to-measure dress and loved by the fashion press?) This sort of thing happens to Serena van der Woodsen A LOT. Prone at one time (or ten) to getting rowdy on the rosé, nobody’s more loveable and humanly flawed than Serena van der Woodsen.  
HER GOSSIP GIRL STYLE Kate Moss. Sienna Miller. Between layering silky rompers, constructed boyfriend jackets and red lipstick for her Browns University days, Serena ups her fashion game with short, short hemlines (denim cut-offs anyone) and long diaphanous gowns. One item however is synonymous with Serena van der Woodsen’s closet: a pair of super-skinny jeans. Heck, maybe even two or three.
GODDESS GUIDE SPOTS IN NEW YORK:

Shop: Plunder denim goldmines and one-off dresses in these three stores.
Exchange rates make the US better for bargains than an outlet village, but New York offers more to the Gossip Girl than discount jeans (A £180 pair in the UK, sells for 40 per cent less in the US). Boutiques like Big Drop and Intermix in the SoHo district, not only have the best jeans ranges but also red-carpet bestsellers such as the currently popular Naven Party dress.
Big Drop, 174 Spring Street, New York, NY 10012 tel: 212.966.4299, www.bigdropnyc.com; and Intermix, 98 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012 (www.intermixonline.com)   
No. 6, 6 Centre Market Place, between Broom and Grand Streets, New York, NY 10014 ( tel: +1 212 226 5759, www.no6store.com), stocks both vintage dresses and No.6 one-off dresses, tweaked from vintage dresses ($130 to $245).

Eat: Butter an über-exclusive (and super-pricey) restaurant and bar in NoHo –it doubles up as a club and is always heaving during NY Fashion Week. Try the five course tasting menu for $90 or the Grilled Octopus (£10) or Seared Hudson Valley Duck Breast (£20). Oh, and the deserts are like little works of art! Butter, 415 Lafayette St (www.butterrestaurant.com) Did I mention that in one episode of Gossip Girl it was the place where ‘little Jenny Humphrey’ humiliates Queen B Blair by arriving with Blair’s on-off boyfriend, Nate?). Don’t let that put you off your food.

Drink: Campbell Apartment is the location for what was to become the most mahussvist secret scandal of Gossip Girl Series 1. How was it kept quiet for so long? Maybe because what went down between Serena and Nate took place in Campbell’s Apartment (aka Manhattan’s most secretest bar). Hidden so you can only get to it through what looks like a service entrance in Grand Central Station. It’s OMFG! X 100. Shhhh! Campbell Apartment, 15 Vanderbilt Ave.

WHO? Leighton Meester aka Blair Waldorf
WE ♥ HER BECAUSE? Blair goes from victim to vixen. There are elements of Truman Capote to Blair Waldorf’s life. When they get around to making a movie of Summer Crossing and need a Grady McNeil, they need look no further than Leighton Meester aka Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf. A product of New York’s pomp and circumstance, Blair Waldorf’s life at times can also harbour darkness; she along with Chuck Bass are the Les Liaisons Dangereuses for the 21st century. Think Glen Close and John Malkovich instead of letters and opium, it’s texts and Louis Roederer champagne (the decedent elaborate lingerie remains the same though).
HER GOSSSIP GIRL STYLE: Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys (she even had a Gossip Girl Audrey Hepburn dream). When Blair goes downtown to NYU, her wardrobe stays firmly Upper East Side. Instead of trying to blend with her fellow college students she ramps up the glamour. The undisputed poster-child for Karl Lagerfeld, She’s Chanel-alarious!
GODDESS GUIDE SPOTS IN NEW YORK:

Shop: For Chuck’s sake, cancel all plans Blair and put your crackberry on silent. We need to wrap you in bespoke labels ladeee from Kiki de Montepasse, 79 Greene Street, New York NY 1001223 (tel: 212.965.8150,  www.kikidm.com). The lingerie here is amazy. (The Couture British Lingerie label Strumpet and Pink, a collab between two artists, Lisa Z Morgan and Melanie Probert is particularly gorge. See www.stumpetandpink.com for MAJOR faints.
 
Shop: For oversized-framed sunnies a la Audrey Hepburn and accessories to die for try the shades department at your favourite store, Henri Bendel’s (the very scene of your Breakfast At Tiffany’s dream). Henri Bendel, 712 Fifth Avenue,  (www.henribendel.com).
 
Eat: One word ‘Sushi’ and Geisha’s sushi to be exact, the only sushi restaurant to be seen sipping sake in on the Upper East Side. Their Sakitini’s (Grey Goose and Sake) (£9) cocktail and warmed Kira Honjyozo sake £22 per bottle are my faves. Geisha, 33 E 61st St (tel:(212)813-1113, www.geisharestaurant.com)
 
Eat: For the Christian Louboutin of cupcakes it’s got to be Erin McKenna’s SoHo based bakery Babycakes. Packed with delicious, vegan cupcakes you’d never guess that they’re free of flour, eggs and dairy (perfect for that Blair Waldorf fully catered sleep-over). Erin’s vanilla cupcakes with lemon agave-frosting $44 per dozen, are particularly legendary. Even Madonna has been known to indulge. Babycakes, 248 Broome Street (Btwn Orchard & Ludlow), New York City, NY 10002 (tel: 212.677.5047 www.babycakesnyc.com).

WHO? Taylor Momsen aka Jenny Humphrey
WE ♥ HER BECAUSE Jenny returns to Constance Billard School for Girls as the new queen bee. She has a rare knack for constantly staying individual and that even extends to her working a killer pair of ‘car-to-bar’ heels.
HER GOSSIP GIRL STYLE Think: queen of rock Courtney Love, Jenny is the perfect blend of Williamsburg grunge and high-end Upper East Side (UES). Dark lips may have replace her tear-stained raccoon eye make-up as a point of focus, but this grunge Barbie doll still nods to her goth/rock-chick roots. Short pleated shorts and skirts, tights, and oversized tees are how she achieves her elegant layering, but she’s still a punk dramz queen at heart.
GODDESS GUIDE SPOTS IN NEW YORK:

Shop: You could spend HOURS in ‘Barney’s Co-op, on their floor dedicated to the world’s newest designers. Barney’s 600 Madison Ave (www.barneys.com).
 
See/Walk: Metropolitan Museum of Art In all seriousness, you might need to pack a pair of flats for this adventure, Jenny. If you leave from the front of your new ‘home’ the New York Place Hotel, 455 Madison Ave, it’s a beautiful stroll down Fifth Avenue to Central Park and further on up the north of Manhattan to the Upper East Side (UES). And you know how you hold court on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art every lunchtime a stones throw from your fictional school? Have you ever actually climbed those steps and gone inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art? The grounds outside for walking and the collection inside is utterly arttastic! Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue (www.metmuseum.orG)
 
Shop: Shop the world’s largest shoe department, the designer floor 10022-SHOE at Saks for a pair of Nicholas Kirkwood motion platforms. No rock chick look is complete without them. FACT! Available from Saks, Fifth Ave, 611 Fifth Ave (www.saksfifthave.com) oh and see www.nicholaskirkwood.com for stockists.

WHO?  Jessica Szohr aka Vanessa Abrams
WE ♥ HER BECAUSE? Vanessa can do no wrong except um, that time she climbed through a window in Series 1 and it was so Dawson’s Creek it made me look away really fast. But I’m over that now. She comes loaded with free-spirit, creativity and M.I.A courage and it’s reflected in her style.
HER GOSSIP GIRL STYLE It’s all moved on for Vanessa who worked at one time as a barista in a café in Brooklyn. Now one of the coolest students in the dorms at NYU she helps maintain her eclectic MIA type cool with statement jewellery, bright ethnic prints and hip-hip tastic high-tops.
GODDESS GUIDE SPOTS IN THE NEW YORK:

Shop: Upper Echelon Shoes, 100B Forsyth St. (Broome and Grand Sts.) (tel: 212-925-8330, www.uesues.com). What Christian Louboutin is to stilettos, New York based show brand Upper Echelon Shoes is to super ritzy kicks with signature gold laces. Everyone form Puff Daddy to Carman Electra, Adriana Partridge, Gwen Steffani, Drew Barrymore and Fergie has a pair. The high-tops embellished with studs and chains are haaawt.  
 
Eat: OMG! Sant Ambroeus started life in 1936 as a Milan pastry shop in Italy, now The Madison Avenue branch is known for little old ladies buying gelato cones for their poodles. *faints* Their West Village branch is famous for Northern Italian staples, unbelievably good coffee, ices, sorbets, heavenly gelato and a long line of waiting celebs. Sant Ambroeus, 259 West 4th Street, (tel: 212 604 9254, www.santambroeus.com) or at Sant Ambroeus, 1000 Madison Avenue.
 
DrinkEat/Play: Spin, is a bar where you can play ping-pong Vanessa. Have you not heard? Ping pong is the new billiards? And check out Soo Yeon Lee, she’s a professional ping-pong playa AND a model and often plays there. http://vimeo.com/8107099  They also have ice-cream sandwiches that’ll make you faint. Spin, 48 East 23rd St (www.spinyc.com)
 
See: You do love your film nights at NYU Vanessa. But did you know that MoMA has one of the largest film collections in the world? You can watch them in its state-of-the-art cinema too like film legends Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen do. It’s said that Garbo watched her films alone in the greenroom adjacent to the projection booth. You can always ask. The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019, (tel: 212 708 9400, www.moma.org).

WHO? Ed Westwick aka Chuck Bass (indulge me).
WE ♥ HIM BECAUSE? Casting my mind back to the pilot episode, there’s also something infinitely hilariously seductive about a man who tries to woo a ladeeee (Serena van der Woodsen in this case) over a bespoke truffle cheese sandwich with the er, cheesy line…..’You know, if you really want to thank me, I've got a few ideas. To which Serena van der Woodsen’s replies ‘It's just a sandwich, Chuck!’ And imagine how I felt when I realised that at the Michelin-starred Gilt restaurant and bar, Chuck’s Gossip Girl –truffle-laden grilled-cheese sandwich is available by popular demand for £18. I know, but once aint going to hurt anyone right?
HIS GOSSIP GIRL STYLE This Sophisticat isn’t just a Great Gatsby clad cad. Whether in smoking jacket or seer sucker stripes, stylewise he’s king of the wasps to Blair Waldorf’s Queen bee.
GODDESS GUIDE SPOTS IN THE NEW YORK:
 
Stay: The New York Palace Hotel is home, at times, to both Chuck Bass and Serena in Gossip Girl and one can book in and stay here for reals. Meanwhile, over in the two-Michelin-starred Gilt restaurant and bar, Chuck’s Gossip Girl truffle-laden grilled-cheese sandwich is available at £18.  New York Place Hotel, 455 Madison Ave (001 212 888 700, www.newyorkpalace.com) from £415 per room, per night.
 
Stay: Mandarin Oriental - New York. Yes, a stay here costs more than staying at your Daddy’s, Chuck but there's no chance of bumping into any of the gang here! And there's no headmistress so you can enjoy the indoor pool (remember the trouble that caused?), and if you’re trying to avoid someone, (say, Blair maybe) you can slip in and out through the mall downstairs. Spring for a room facing Central Park and see that you pack your signature silk polka dot J Press patchwork party scarf Chuck ($250 from www.jpressonline.com), you’ll be needing it for our cocktails at bar dude. Mandarin Oriental – New York, 80 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10023 tel: (866) 801-8880, www.mandarinoriental.com  

If you’re looking for me, Chuck I’ll be in the heart of SoHo residing at The Mercer Hotel, 147 Mercer Street, New York, NY 10012 tel: (212) 966 6060, www.mercerhotel.com) from £317 per night. And if that’s booked out? I’ll be down Lower East Side (LES) at The Bowery, 335 Bowery, New York, NY  10003 (tel: 1 212 505 9100, theboweryhotel.com) From £272 per night. They’re my favourites.

See: Immaculate art taste, Chuck? Thought so. Then hook yourself up with Deitch Project’s namesake Jeffrey Deitch from www.deitch.com who will point you towards the next breakthrough names in urban contemporary art. Jeffrey’s two Soho galleries represent some of the hottest names in the art scene and he’s third sister space in Long Island City (tipped to be the next hot outer-borough cool spot now that Williamsburg and Dumbo are on the wane) is also worth you leaving you UES comfort zone. Hipsters (meaning those who've gotten there first and bought property) are touting Long Island City as the next hot scene Chuck. Seeing as you’ll be probably taking your driver maybe some train directions are in order for the rest of us.

Club: If you fancy some real life risqué after-burger burlesque, Chuck, I’m not offering to do a Blair for you (you fell for her because she did that impromptu striptease on stage at Victrola for you?) but I do like Burlesque and the club Victrola where Blair erm, “danced” is called The Box in real life. The Box, 189 Chrystie Street, www.theboxnyc.com

WHO? Chace Crawford aka Nate Archibald
WE ♥ HIM BECAUSE? He’s brilliant. What’s not to love? Do a little digging and you’ll find his fingerprints all over almost every female character of the Gossip Girl. Oh and have I mentioned the ruffle-worthy hair?  
HIS GOSSIP GIRL STYLE Simple well groomed elegance propped up by a closet full of tees which can be dressed up or dressed down. Somebody’s been working out eh?
 
GODDESS GUIDE SPOTS IN THE UK:

Shop: Uniqlo, 546 Broadway between Prince and Spring Sts (917-237-8800), www.uniqlo.com) There’s a whole wall of tees more than 100 (starting at $16) here and some are designed by top Japanese artists. There are also premium-cotton prints by Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Since shoppers worldwide only get to buy these online avail of your luck and try loads on. Oh, and another great tee brand is www.crookedmonkey.com. Check online for a list of stores in New York.)
 
Eat: I know that Café Wha? is your favourite café, Nate. Yes, the crispy calamari are rather good. The fact that Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan played there years ago earns it MAJOR kudos and seeing as the space between the tables is pretty tight here, you might find it difficult not to fall ‘in like’ with me. Café Wha?, 115 Macdougal St 115 Macdougal, between Bleecker and W 3rd, New York, NY (tel: (212) 254-3706‎, www.cafewha.com).

Club: The Underground Rebel Bingo Club sounds like a place where you’d fit right in Nate. What started out as a basement bingo game by grannies with a bingo kit in a church hall quickly became mental underground Rebel Bingo. Things can get out of control Nate (if you know what I mean?) So read the club rules carefully…. No bores (leave Dan at home), No work suits (and Chuck). No oldies (yes that means you Lady Catherine Mason Beaton). Got that Nate. NO OLDIES!

The Underground Rebel Bingo Club, www.rebelbingo.com;  email: rebels at rebelbingo.com or tel: 07545 696 812 for secret venues in New York, London, Brighton, Nottingham, Manchester, Bristol. Shhhhhhhh!
 
Eat: Someone’s been working out and that someone is YOU Nate. A good place to find healthy on the go food is The Pump energy chain of restaurants loved by Manhattan’s gorgeous army of personal trainers, models, actors and dancers. The Pump, 150, East 52nd Street, (tel: 212 4213055, www.thepumpenergyfood.com) I love it!

WHO? Penn Badgley aka Dan Humphrey
WE ♥ HIM BECAUSE? Dan Humphrey is a real nice guy. He likes hugging people and working things out. In Dan’s case, hugging things (guys, gals, lamp-posts while only wearing boxers) also fits in nicely with learning all about them so that he can um, write about them. Sensitive and easy-going, he’s ‘a keeper’ Vanessa will tell you.
HIS GOSSIP GIRL STYLE from his fishing satchel crammed full of books to his journal Dan is every man’s best friend. Almost always in tees and jeans he takes a cool, casual attitude to style.    
 
GODDESS GUIDE SPOTS IN NEW YORK:

Drink: Just one subway stop away from Grand Central Station in Queens (line 7 on Vernon Blvd Station) is café Communitea, You should know this place well, Dan, as Vanessa your bezzie worked as a barista here. Yes, I know her ‘café’ in Gossip Girl is meant to be in Brooklyn…but hey, that’s TV for ya. Whaddaya gonna do? Either way, they serve a mean cuppa. Communitea, 47-02 Vernon Blvd, Queens
 
Shop: Books Perfect for your writing career, Housing Works Used Book Café sell second-hand books aplenty and the subbasement, which stocks 100,000 more books is where to look for ‘the finds’. Not only do celebs shop at the UBC (Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves), they donate their books too. Volumes from Woody Allen, Gwyneth Paltrow (she inscribed her name on the sides) have all gone through this store. Housing Works Used Book Café, 126 Crosby Street (between E Houston and Prince Sts (tel:212-334-3324, housingworksbookstore.com). There’s also Housing Works, 130 Crosby St. (Jersey St.) (tel: 646-786-1200, housingworks.org) stuffed with vintage clothing, furniture, art, and jewellery that only a jaded New Yorker could have given up. Money heads straight for homeless New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS and it’s the perfect place to look for a Dan-type fishing satchel to carry your books.

Eat: Momofuku Ssäm Bar, 207 Second Ave, (13th St.) (tel: 212-254-3500, momofuku.com) a ker-azy buzzy place, Ssäm Bar operates a walk-in only policy and after a couple of Sake Lemonades you’ll be ready for co-owner Tien Ho’s edgy just-like-mom-makes-it dishes with an oriental twist. The Bo Ssäm of a whole pork butt, dozen oysters, kimchi, rice and bibb lettuce is legendary. Either that or the beef jerky, pork rinds and Cheddar puffed rice from its late night menu. Deeeeee-lish!

Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do little Goddesses xoxo…   

Fly on the exclusive new British Airways Club World flight from London City (via Shannon, where you clear US immigration) to New York JFK. Flights start from £1,999.60 return (including taxes, fees and charges). See www.britishairways.com

Gossip Girl: Season Three is out now on DVD and Season 4 will be available on Itunes from www.apple.com/itunes and www.blinkbox.com, and will be airing on ITV2 later this month

The Goddess Experience £5.99 by Gisèle Scanlon (Harper Collins)


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