Meet The Genius Behind Olivia Pope’s Wardrobe: An Interview With Lyn Paolo, Costume Designer

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Lyn Paolo, Costume Designer for Scandal

Chicago Planner Magazine got the chance to interview, Lyn Paolo, Costume Designer and genius behind Olivia Pope’s flawless professional wardrobe on ABC’s hit “Scandal”.  She also just finished her fourth season on the Showtime Series “Shameless” starring William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum.   And as if that wasn’t impressive enough, you’ve seen her other work for “ER,” “The West Wing,” “LA Confidential” and “Homefront,” for which she won two EMMY® awards.  She is also currently costume designing the John Wells directed film “Adam Jones” starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Thompson and Sienna Miller.   Even more impressive still is that she was also recently made an ambassador for the Platinum Guild International USA (PGI-USA), an organization that increases awareness of the value, benefits and fashion appeal of the world’s most precious metal.

“I am so excited to be teaming up with the Platinum Guild,” says Paolo. “I love all things Platinum: from my own personal jewelry to the pieces I choose for my private clientele, films and television shows that I design. Platinum, for me, is about glamour, style and enduring quality.   You really cannot beat those three qualities in one amazing product.”

The Scandal Collection now available at The Limited.
The Scandal Collection now available at The Limited (As Seen in InStyle Magazine)

Being fashionable is very important for today’s busy, professional woman.  It makes a statement about who you are, what you do and what you’re trying to tell people about yourself.  Part of Olivia’s grand and bold statements are what’s she’s wearing. So of course, that makes it even more exciting that Kerry Washington and Lyn Paolo, in partnership with Elliot Staples, head of design from The Limited, have developed a new fashion line exclusively for The Limited inspired by Shonda Rhimes’ ABC drama, Scandal.

“The collection is a nod to our devoted fans, to fans of fashion and to women
everywhere who are inspired to boldly pursue their passions and look good while doing it.” Says Washington.

“I am so excited and hopeful that our Gladiators are as excited about the collection as we are,” said Paolo.  “It has been such tremendous fun and such an honor to design for the amazing characters…. and now to help make their style accessible to all.”

Washington, Paolo and Staples collaboratively developed each piece in the collection, which is characterized by its authenticity, originality and unique details and trim. Tops, pants, jackets and outerwear are included in the fall collection, with prices beginning at $49. You can get The Limited Scandal Collection stores nationwide and online starting September 23rd.

Needless to say Ms. Paolo is a very busy and accomplished woman.  So we were excited to talk to her about everything that she does and she  told us a little bit about how that is achieved along with what it takes to be as great as she is in creating not just beautifully dressed characters, but representing and authenticating characters (through clothing) to express a great story.

©ABC/Craig Sjodin

Chicago Planner Magazine (CPM): With the TV show Scandal becoming such a phenomenon, Olivia Pope is arguably one of the best dressed characters on TV. Her wardrobe is an inspirational combination of professional and fashionable.  How do you achieve that balance when creating her outfits?

Lyn Paolo (LP): Honestly I don’t think about that balance I think about telling the amazing story that Shonda Rhimes and her team create weekly, and within that outline I try to create a professional woman who ultimately has her own style and who I hope embodies a quality of elegance and professionalism

CPM: With the first question in mind, can you tell us about any of the outfits we can expect to see in this upcoming season of Scandal?

LP: Sadly, that would be a BIG secret, but we do love our capes and our gloves!!!!!

©ABC/Richard Cartwright

CPM: What suggestions do you have for fans who love Olivia’s designer outfits to be able create similar looks within an everyday budget?

LP: Buy what makes you look good, do not dress just to be fashionable, dress in what looks amazing on your body.  And the best way?  Our newly designed line at The Limited that has Olivia’s style already made for you.

CPM: While being a costume designer sounds fabulous, there is no doubt that it requires hard work. What are some challenges in your position that you find most people are surprised to learn?

LP: I absolutely love and adore my job, but if you were looking at it as a career I would tell you to be ready to work long hours, and also to be organized it is not all about pretty clothes…it is hard work and you need really great people skills.

CPM: While you’ve stated in other interviews that you have no intention of starting your own fashion line, do you ever do personal styling? (For the right person of course!) Do you ever throw outfits together for cast members of your shows for press conferences or premiers?

LP: I have done a lot of styling for friends and I continue to do that, I really enjoy working one on one with the people I do dress and it is fun for me to dress them as individuals and not as a character in a film or a TV show…

©ABC/Richard Cartwright

CPM: What are 2 or 3 of your personal, fashion “must have” items?

LP: Boots I love them any time of the year…you all know I am obsessed by coats and with your weather you should be too.  Right now I am in love with gloves.  My friend Dorothy Gaspar and I are working on a small line of gloves together and I am so excited that it will be out there soon.

CPM:  There is no doubt we will be keeping an eye out for those fabulous gloves!  Thank you so much for giving us a peak into your amazing work and everything that goes into it.

Season 4 of Scandal premiers on September 25th.  So be sure to tune in to see what Lyn has created for us to drool over!  Want to get more about Lyn Paolo?  Follow her!

 Using Twitter for an Event@lynpaolo
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