Scandal costume designer Lyn Paolo was just honored with the Variety & WWD “StyleMakers” award Thursday night and no one was more excited than the Scandal star, Kerry Washington. In her speech honoring the designer she called her “extraordinarily gracious” and “humble” and a “composed human being.” And she was just getting started.
Washington praised Paolo’s work of being able to first conceptualize the character Olivia Pope through clothes and accessories, saying “She made me figure out who this character is… Lyn and I agreed that this was going to be a woman that was not afraid to run in heels and that was it. We knew that we wanted to redefine the power suit.”
Actually, so much thought went into the show’s wardrobe that by the sixth episode of season one, there was 19 costume changes and the duo was already spent. “I had never worked this hard in my life and Lyn was equally as exhausted, and we walked into a room and we cried together for about 10 minutes and at that point I knew that I would be friends with her forever because she takes clothes seriously,” she shared. “This is a woman who is willing to cry until we get it right, and we have been crying and laughing ever since.”
On top of being her source for inspiration as an actor, it also extends to her skills as a mom, specifically in the baby-dressing department.
“I love her so much and I’ve learned so much from her,” the actress said. “I trust her with my life, I trust her to dress my child, which she does, she’s taught me to be a better mom, she’s taught me to be a better actor, she’s taught me to be a better leader, a better human being and a better dresser.”
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She’s also learned to separate style choices for the screen versus the red carpet. “The fashion that I do on the carpet is different than the fashion I do on the show. I’ve had a journey in learning to understand both, but one is about marketing and PR and one is about telling a story.”
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And the duo take that very seriously. “We made this commitment that this show wouldn’t be fashion for fashion sake,” Washington explained. “We wanted Olivia to have a closet space, so in every episode, we wear at least one item that Olivia has worn before.” And Paolo added, “These are real people and our show… is about literally telling a story and we want the audience in the Scandal world that these are real people and that they go to the closet all the time, so, for me, it was important that it’s not just a fashion show.”
What do you love most about Olivia Pope’s style? Share in the comments below!
–Colleen Kratofil, with reporting by Nicole Sands