Scandal has quickly become a media phenomenon. Created by Grey's Anatomy's Shonda Rhimes, the show originally was going to be cancelled after only one season. Fortunately, between large social media campaigns and addictive writing, the show was able to skyrocket its ratings and is now one of the most watched shows in its jaw dropping third season. Main character Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington, plays a proud and independent political fixer in Washington, D.C.
One of the greatest parts of the television show is the way fashion plays as an important role to the characters in the story. Even when doing a Google Image search for "Olivia Pope", the first suggestion to come up are her outfits. Olivia Pope is decked out episode by episode in polished, sophisticated outfits that display how important it is for her clients to take her seriously. In an interview for Cosmopolitain, costume designer Lyn Paolo reveals just how important outfits play for the character, even down to the hues.
When she doesn't know what she's doing, she wears grey. If she's in a lot of trouble, and she's conflicted, she's in black and white. At Saks this week, they were showing me all of these dresses and I was like, ‘Olivia doesn't wear dresses. She only wears dresses in the past. That was when she was happy and in love with Fitz [married POTUS]. Now she wears the pants because that's who she has to be now.’
Besides center lady Olivia, there are also other characters whose outfits are important to their character. Viewers share a "love to hate" attitude towards First Lady "Mellie" Grant, who stops at nothing to make sure that her husband (and world leader) doesn't go back into the arms of Olivia. Even with this, watchers can agree that her outfits are always on point. She has a polished look that is the epitome of a politician's wife: quaffed hair, classic silhouettes, a toothy smile. All of it is used to put on a mask to the world that her life is perfect, when in reality it's anything but.
The show's deliberate intent on making fashion an internal part of the show is something I enjoy seeing unfold every week. Not only am I excited to see what crazy drama Olivia has to clean up or what desperate schemes Mellie has planned, but I am also excited to see what subliminal messages Lyn Paolo tries to display with the characters.