‘OITNB,’ ‘Good Wife’ Costume Designers On Inspiration

Jenn Rogien, costume designer for “Orange Is The New Black” and “Girls,” and Dan Lawson, costume designer for “The Good Wife,” spoke about design inspiration, influences and impact at the Accessories Council Summit on Monday. The panel was led by Linda Kearns, VP of licensing and brand-development influence and impact at Matchbook Co.

Rogien has talked to FN in the past about what shoes work for lead characters like Piper Chapman, played by Taylor Schilling, and that “the focus of ‘Girls’ is so much on real women and real shapes and real sizes.”

She said, “My philosophy is that costumes are built from the ground up. We had a few flashbacks in the first season where we used out-of-season Manolo Blahniks we found at DSW for Piper. She had a lot of money then, and it was the right shoe. For her contemporary life, we ended up using a lot of Frye.”

During the panel, Rogien said she gets inspiration for her shows through people-watching and Instagram. “Just things that bring powerful visual images that may not be relevant to the script at that moment but are really wonderful to have in your back pocket,” she added.

She also gets inspiration from the input given by the actors, writers and directors. These contributions, which come up in meetings and fittings, add dimension to the design process.

“I didn’t write the script, I didn’t create this character [and] I’m not the expert on the character. I’m definitely the expert on the clothes,” said Rogien. “It’s where those two things meet where you get the magic that is television. You get those amazing things you see on TV that you want to buy and wear. That said, once you get a couple of seasons into [a series] you do have a a lot more flexibility because the trust is there.”

Lawson continued, “It starts with the script. We are storytellers. Our job is to support the actors, support the directors, screenwriters, producers, the network and the studio, who want to to tell these stories. That’s where the inspiration begins.”

Time is also a major consideration. Costume designers have anywhere from four to seven days to dress an episode, according to Lawson.

“It is such a small amount of time — it’s a lot about speed,” he said.  “On one level, it’s running into Macy’s and [running] into the boutique on Madison Avenue because I saw the dress in the window and you know it’s going to be perfect. Another level is where you actually get to to know the designer of a brand.”

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