Olivia Pope has been lauded as one of TV's best-dressed characters from the moment costume designer Lyn Paolo debuted Kerry Washington's chic style on Scandal three years ago. While the clothes Pope wears every week are reviewed in tantalizing detail, her amazing jewelry has mostly been overlooked. Paolo sat down with InStyle to tell us all about the beautiful platinum and diamond pieces that Pope, Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes) and "Kinky Sue" Thomas (played by guest star Lena Dunham) have worn this season.
How do you describe Olivia’s jewelry style?
I try to make the jewelry almost disappear, but it is there and it is usually very significant. It’s like scenes when Olivia is in the background at a client meeting yet you know she is handling everything even from a distance. Her jewelry should feel the same. We use a lot of platinum as opposed to bright gold. Platinum has a sublime presence.
Tell me about the diamond studs Olivia has been wearing this season. They are gorgeous!
Like every aspect of her wardrobe, the earrings were intended to be a cue to the audience. Last season she was so vulnerable and it was dark Shakespearean craziness. The earrings (seen on Washington above) are diamonds and platinum---a hard stone and a strong metal. They reflect how hardened she has become after finding out the truth about her mother and father. The Donata earrings (in the photo above) by SRW appealed to both Kerry and I for the character, because they are indicative of the classic style we try to maintain for Olivia while also being significant enough to be noticed on film. The center stones are a total of 2.40-carats of old-mine cut diamonds, a shape from the early years of the twentieth century. They beam a softer light than modern shapes. The central gems are surrounded by a halo of small pavé-set diamonds.
It was very exciting to see an engagement ring on Olivia’s finger during a dream sequence. What was it about the diamond and platinum Erica Courtney ring that made you decide it was the one?
We knew this would be a big moment even though it was just in a dream. I really wanted the ring to be classically beautiful. The second we saw Erica Courtney’s Ellen ring (at top) we knew it was perfect. The diamond was just the right size and the setting was stunning. It all felt classy and stylish.
In general how do you choose the jewelry for the other women on the show?
At the beginning of each season I talk in depth with actors about the jewelry, then I set up the jewelry we have chosen in a hanging bag with clear vinyl pockets in their room. When they get dressed, they make the final jewelry choice each day. I tell them, “You know what is happening in your world today. You can choose the right piece for the scene.” I think that is a gift to give to an actor in a collaborative medium: "What is my jewelry now?" They are their weapons. It gives you power. It gives you a sense of confidence. It gives you that extra thing that looks great. Jewelry is like an armor that protects you in difficult situations.
The Karen Karch pieces you found for Katie Lowes, who plays Quinn, seem tailor made for her character.
I know---but they are straight out of Karen’s line. Katie (in the photo above) is as obsessed by Karen's jewelry as am I. She has worn the Vine earrings and ring (below) on a few episodes. They have a bit of edge, like Quinn, in the design and with the black diamond accents yet the platinum keeps the jewels subtle and cool.
Lena Dunham made an unforgettable guest appearance on the show as Kinky Sue (above) and was bejeweled in studs and a pendant necklace by Gem Platinum. Could you explain to me why you felt these pieces were the right ones for her character?
Lena and I talked before her fitting, and we discussed making sure her character Sue was markedly different from who she plays on Girls. This meant many things, appropriate underpinnings, heels and, finally, "grown up" jewels. Lena loved the idea of wearing platinum and diamonds. I think the Gem Platinum pieces (below) worked well for her character. I feel like jewels are pieces of art.