Blake Lively—the actress best known as Serena van der Woodsen—is launching her latest venture, a website called Preserve, with a Vogue cover and feature, as one does. But what exactly is Lively pitching us? Or what isn't she pitching us? An investigation.
Preserve is not a lifestyle site—not really at least—no one knows
In an interview with The Cut in December Lively said that she doesn't "know if it’s a lifestyle site," just that she is "creating a brand that I felt the need for." When pressed on whether or not it was a "lifestyle" site she said: "Yes, it will be a site. But not necessarily lifestyle." So Lively is trying to brand her tastes, but not actually influence the way we live our lives? I don't know. No one really does it seems.
Preserve will "focus on artisans and products"
In advance of the Vogue profile, E! talked to an insider who claimed that Preserve will "will focus on artisans and products, many hand-made one-of-a-kind items all selected by Blake. Items will be available for purchase through the site. Preserve is all about story-telling through video. Blake will be in some of these videos." So Preserve is an online store with a touch of This American Life?
Preserve is "part digital monthly magazine, part e-commerce venture, part video blog"
The Vogue profile has the most detail so far about Preserve, and author Jonathan Van Meter explains, the above, and that "the site will seek out and celebrate people all over America who are making things—food, clothes, pillows, dishes, dining-room tables—with their hands." That sort of makes it sound like a homespun Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle website.
Preserve is not really Goop
Goop describes itself as a "digital media and e-commerce company," which sounds an awful lot like what Lively is trying to do with Preserve. But Van Meter assumes that Lively is trying to nix Gwyneth comparisons when she says that Preserve is not aspirational; that it's, in Lively's words, "not trying to show you the perfect life or the aspirational life. It’s real life. It’s the thing that blindsides you on an idle Tuesday that’s tragic but that also makes you who you are. It’s not about me. And it’s not about watching my journey of learning how-to, it’s about me sharing that with you so we all sort of learn together." Preserve is your chance to pretend you're friends with Blake Lively, who in turn is friends with Martha Stewart.
Preserve is what Ryan Reynolds does to distract himself from thinking about how he won't be in the Justice League movie
Apparently, Reynolds is not "officially on the Preserve team," but Van Meter writs that "his fingerprints will be all over it." Lively claims that he has "written a lot of stuff for us." This is how Reynolds bides his time as he awaits to see who Zack Snyder will cast instead of him.
Preserve is millennial, gentrified Brooklyn hogwash
Back in 2012, Jen Doll wrote the obituary for "artisanal" on this site. Lively apparently did not get the memo. Van Meter writes:
Lively is hoping to tap into her generation’s obsession with all things small-batch: the perfectly imperfect handcrafted, the exquisitely bespoke, the deliciously artisanal. She is, in essence, using all the modern-day digital tricks of the trade to shine a light on—to preserve—all those finer, simpler things in American life that are in danger of getting touch-screened into extinction, trampled on by the medium itself.
Blake Lively—despite her penchant old Hollywood glamour, or in the case of the Vogue photo shoot, looking like she belongs on the set of a John Wayne movie—is a mere 26. Blake Lively is Gen Y. Preserve is part of a great millennial conspiracy.
Preserve is Blake Lively's zine
Lively seems intimately involved with the editing process, according to Van Meter. Talking about one piece she says she was "liberal with my revisions." In response to another she says, "“I think the writer should just scrap it and start over." Her greatest statement: “And one small thing, which shows up in every piece: the word things.My dad was an English professor. There’s always a more eloquent, descriptive word.”
Lively thinks you can do better, writers.
Preserve is Blake Lively
So what is Blake Lively trying to sell us? Specifically? We have no idea. Broadly? Blake Lively is selling us Blake Lively. Carry on.