Lyn Paolo dresses Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope on the most talked about television series at the moment: Scandal. We got the Emmy Award-winning costume designer to reveal her set secrets to us and answer this question—will she ever break out of her all-neutral palette? See what she had to say below!
OK!: What does Olivia’s all-neutral wardrobe really symbolize?
LP: In many respects the color palette of the show symbolizes different things at different times, but the initial decision was made on the pilot to dress Olivia in white because Shonda Rhimes referred to the OP team as being Gladiators in suits. This resonated with me and I felt it would be appropriate and magical to have a leading lady wear white on a television show. This way she would stand out as a central and illuminating vision in the centre of a room full of men in dark DC suits.
OK!: Would Olivia ever break out of the all-neutral palette?
LP: We have used other colors depending on what is happening in Olivia’s life. It is my hope that at some point we can do something absolutely electric with color in the future, but that all depends on our amazing writers and the story. I do have a bright-orange Ralph Lauren purse waiting in the wings.
OK!: Will we be seeing more of Olivia as a young DC girl?
LP: We have seen Olivia in the past as a bit of a party girl in DC, but it was only on the wall and in flashback pictures; she wore Chanel.
OK!: Who is the most fun to dress out of the cast?
LP: Obviously Olivia is fun because she is our main character and I adore her coats and gloves, however I adore Bellamy and she wears jewel tones so beautifully. It’s actually impossible for me to pick one—each of the characters are so well-drawn by Shonda and the writers, that I love dressing them all. I am as much of a Gladiator as our fans are.
OK!: What’s your favorite outfit that’s ever been worn in an episode?
LP: I love coats and evening gowns, so I am always going to pick those, but I am obsessed with the Rubin Singer gown that Olivia wears in episode five of this season.
OK!: How is this season different fashion-wise, from the previous?
LP: Olivia is evolving as a character and we are using a lot more texture this season to show her emotional state in each episode. We have also begun using more American designers such as Ralph Lauren, as I’m in love with their coats this season.
OK!: Tell us everything about the white bathing suits:
LP: The white bathing suits were an homage to Olivia and her white suiting; we just thought it would be amazing to continue that look whilst she was swimming, Kerry Washington is amazing to agree to wear them and she also happens to be a brilliant swimmer.
OK!: Are you ever nervous that Kerry Washington will spill red wine over her uber-fabulous white lounging-around clothes?
LP: I am, but Kerry is such a professional that she takes such care not to spill. Also, I have an amazing set crew that’s ready to pounce at any calamity.
OK!: Are the men just as exciting to dress as the women?
LP: I actually prefer dressing the men on the show to the women. For one, they are all adorable and handsome, but I also love trying to make them look distinct from one another and I am a tie fanatic—they are my candy.
OK!: What are your tips for wearing white coats during different seasons?
LP: I think you can wear white anytime. I absolutely love white coats, especially around the Christmas season and I do not stick to the rules regarding not wearing white at certain times of the year.
OK!: Who are the big designers you’re using currently?
LP: For Olivia, Armani, Ralph Lauren and Dior are favorites. For Mellie, it is all about Michael Kors. With Abby, we are using a lot of Donna Karan.
OK!: Where are the best places to score chic PJs à la Olivia’s?
LP: The pajama look for Olivia is not a found look, it’s created. We take pieces from lots of different areas—Donna Karan/TSE cardigans, etc—and mix them with pajama bottoms and tank tops from many different designers.
OK!: What’s your inspiration for dressing President Grant; how do you come up with a “look” for a POTUS?
LP: I wanted Tony Goldwyn to epitomize a young President—vibrant and a little more forward-thinking in fashion, hence the narrower look on his suiting and pants. Also, I try to use ties that aren’t too traditional and instead, I use a lot of Armani and Hugo Boss ties on this character.
Do you watch Scandal? What’s your favorite thing Olivia has worn? Comment below or tweet us @OKMagazine!