You went on to work on what is arguably the only other series that can compare with Sex and the City in terms of fashion culture phenomenon, which was Gossip Girl, the original. But I heard that you had sworn off TV and almost turned it down. Is that true?
That is 100% true. When I left Sex and the City, it was season four, and the grind of it was just so labor-intensive, and I just was like, I can’t keep up with this pace. I don’t want to keep up with this pace. I want to branch out. I A) want to become my own designer, and B) episodic [is] like being in an emergency room all the time. It’s just triage. We’d even have very late night fittings, and it’s just like, the work hours, everything. We work 14-/16-hour days, and it’s very labor-intensive, especially episodic.
A friend of mine was doing a very small indie, and I just wanted to go re-explore my roots, get back to the basics, as one does. I had a really great string of films, indie films. I’d done maybe six, seven, 10, indie films back to back and was kind of making my mark in the indie world. It was very bourgeois and felt like my French literature degree was working to my advantage. And I had met and was booked to work on Todd Solondz, who had done Welcome to the Dollhouse. I met them, we had such a great meeting, I was booked to work on his next film, and the Gossip Girl pilot came in at the same time. I was definitely pulled toward the Todd Solondz project, and my boyfriend, Brian, who’s here with me now, was like, “Let’s just read the first page of Gossip Girl.” Smart. He ended up reading and doing a dramatic interpretation of the whole script for me, and I was just smitten with the idea of these super-rich kids behaving terribly and what we can do with the passion for it. It was really two very different worlds if you think of the Todd Solondz indie world and then this Gossip Girl phenomenon.
Literally the next day, I was supposed to get on a plane to Florida for the Todd film, and the financing got pulled. Then, I went in to my Gossip Girl interview. At the time, we would use tear sheets and read magazines because the internet was alive and well but not quite the library that it is these days. I made all these composites and collages similar to what I would do with my bedroom as a kid. I made all these tear-sheet imagery mood boards that I showed to Stephanie Savage—she was the showrunner, creator, and writer of the original incarnation—and she had also made mood boards and done tear sheets. Our pictures lined up I would say like 95%. It was kismet. Like, this is meant to be.