'Scandal' costume designer Lyn Paolo talks Olivia Pope style and new season details
At the center of the story is Olivia Pope, a sophisticated D.C. crisis management expert who is having an on-again, off-again, torrid affair with the President of the United States. Not only is Olivia a seriously powerful woman, she's also got impeccable style. Lyn Paolo is the costume designer behind the series, and we sat down to chat with her about all things gladiator style (we're not talking about the sandals...guess you'll have to watch the show find out what that means!).
StyleList: Olivia always wears a lot of white. What's the story behind that?
Lyn Paolo: When I was doing the pilot, I'd been fighting for years to use more white on television. It's been an uphill road because a lot of cinematographers are resistant, but I think it's stunning. Olivia Pope is very strong, and I didn't want to have her in a lot of dark suits, so I pitched the idea to ABC of having this person wear a lot of pastels and winter whites to bring out a feminine (side) -- I call it "elegant femininity", just to see a strong female character look like a lady. When we had our first fitting (with Kerry), and I had gone ahead with this whole palette, she said "Oh my God, I can't believe you've done this." We instantly hit if off -- she always says we have the same brain.
SL: Where did you find the gorgeous white gown Olivia wore to the birthday dinner in the season two epidsode, "Happy Birthday Mr. President"?
LP: It's really funny, that dress is a Jean Fere Couture, it was hanging in rags (when we found it). The bottom of it was completely shredded, and nobody thought it was going to be a great dress. It took a little convincing of everyone, and we had to completely remake the bottom of the dress. And then, Kerry and I said, "This is it, we're going to do it." We had flown gowns in from all different designers, and this gown that was falling to pieces was the one we went with.
SL: You dressed Olivia in darker clothes during her flashback scenes.
LP: We tried to get a sense of the mood -- what is happening with this person in this moment in time, where they are. When we we flashbacked to the (campaign) trail, when Olivia first fell in love with Fitz, we did a lot of yummy caramel tones, which she really never wears now. There's a definite arc in the palette of her clothes.
SP: What's up next in the world of Scandal style?
LP: I can't really tell you what's happening in Season 3, but I want our viewers to know that because everyone's position has reoriented on the show, we changed a lot of the fashion elements of each character to show how they're evolving. I can tell you for sure we're going to see a much different Abby and a much tougher looking Quinn. We're doing collaborations with designers this year -- for instance, there will be an all Prada episode.
Scandal picks back up October 3rd on ABC.