Gabriela Vasci is 2020’s Marie Antoinette, an opulent car crash so tacky that you can’t help but watch. More recognizable as @gab_nyc—her TikTok username—Vasci is known on the platform as an innocuous vlogger or the girl who never takes the subway, depending on who you ask. She gained prominence at the beginning of the summer, amid coronavirus deaths and Black Lives Matter protests, her account a manifestation of the utopia that lies between Manhattan's 60th and 96th Streets.
Vasci galivants around Gossip Girl’s New York City in flouncy, black LoveShackFancy skirts and silk headbands purchased in bulk at Bergdorf Goodman. To her 104,800 followers, her days consist of a mid–morning chai latte at Ralph’s or Ladurée, a stroll down Fifth Ave, some Sweetgreen for dinner, and a healthy amount of cuts for class and work. Filmed daily in a time marked by isolation and tightened purse strings, Vasci’s ‘Day in My Life’ videos are refreshingly normal—and borderline anachronistic. Perhaps that’s the point.
“I’m creating Disney magic or whatever,” Vasci says over a spotty Zoom connection after pushing our conversation back by two hours. Inspired by the makeover montages of Legally Blonde and Devil Wears Prada, she describes her social media presence as “2000s cute,” a term both incredibly vague and incredibly accurate.
Like watching a romantic comedy from the pre–Instagram age, consuming 30–second snippets of Vasci’s day is both cathartic and escapist. They’re frictionless, and since the only indication that they're filmed in 2020 is that she buys masks to match her outfits they're nearly timeless.
But as Vasci points out, that’s because they’re not exactly real. She’s quick to admit that her videos are curated–“a highlight reel” of clips her fanbase of adolescent girls with big–city dreams want to see. “I usually pick to vlog days when I’m going to a really cool restaurant or I'm doing an event with a store or something like that. Same goes if I have a brand deal I want to include,” she says. “I think I posted one vlog where I just showed me working all day and it didn’t do very well.”
That, of course, begs another question: are ‘Day in the Life’ authentic videos diaries, or simply avenues of brand influence? Vasci’s content provides a non–answer, blurring the line between advertisement and honesty.
“[My videos] are guides to fun things to do in the city, just disguised as a daily routine,” Vasci admits before unveiling an influencer secret: the more you namecheck a brand, the more likely they are to send gifts or create an ambassador program. Hence why her videos often feel like a roving billboard. Vasci does three Peloton workouts in the morning, for example, and then announces that she’s getting her hair blown out at Sally Hershberger, rounding out her day with a try–on haul from Intermix.
For many viewers, this ode to consumerism is dizzying. The comments under Vasci’s videos are often brutal, with TikTok users demanding the same things from the social media star that we ask of the president—financial transparency, and to stop flaunting wealth.
“All in favor of you filming a ‘what I spend in a week video’ say I,” writes user @amandavecchiarelli on Vasci’s Sept. 30 vlog, while @idiotoclock says, “anyway eat the rich” under a video posted the day before. Yet Vasci, who works as a brand marketing manager at influencer marketing firm Zfluence as one of her day jobs, maintains that her content is standard influencer fair, the same diet of anodyne #sponsored posts we’ve been consuming on Instagram for almost a decade.
“What surprised me a lot about TikTok in the comment section is how people always act [like] this isn't something that they've seen before. I think it’s interesting how fans brought [money] up in the first place because there are so many New York City bloggers and creators, yet no one really questions them on that type of thing at all,” Vasci says. “I don’t know why they decided to ask that of me. Part of me thinks it’s because maybe I’m viewed less as a creator and more like a normal person.”
Still, this distinction creates an inner turmoil over who Vasci is—both to herself and the people that watch her—that she consistently tries to downplay. When she first began making videos in November 2019, Vasci wrote bite–sized satire, spoofing the bridge–and–tunnel crowd. Raised in Westchester County, Vasci churned out content that poked fun at the distinctly Westchester experience: taking the Metro–North into Manhattan on the weekends, endless bat mitzvahs, idolizing Blair Waldorf. Now she’s not sure if she could ever transition back to that content, or if her fans would even want her to.
“I think going back might be tricky,” Vasci says when asked if she’d ever revert back to her niche style of comedy. “For some reason, people on TikTok have a really hard time distinguishing between what’s satire and what’s a character versus what’s just actually a morning routine or something genuinely from me.”
Yet, in spite of all of the brand deals, five–course meals at white table–clothed restaurants and influencer BS, Vasci believes the @gab_nyc persona is still a genuine part of her, just not all of her. She’s a senior at Columbia University studying creative writing and art history. She’s writing a crime novel about art museum heists. She loves Star Wars, and Martha Stewart, and making a morning spiced chai at home. To herself, Vasci is both deliciously vapid and utterly regular–2020’s Marie Antoinette if she had a midterm due at midnight.
“Yes, I view my TikTok as one big marketing and branding experience,” Vasci says. “But I think with the Gab NYC persona, it's a small part of me. It's not my whole personality, but it's not like it's not me at all."