After a long winter hiatus, Scandal finally returned on Thursday night. The midseason premiere picked up six months after Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and President Grant (Tony Goldwyn) broke up. Olivia has been taking on new cases at Pope & Associates, like the head of the National Security Agency, while Fitz designated Abby Whelan (Darby Stanchfield) to be his new "work wife"—the one he bothers all hours of the day and night. They seem to be navigating single life fairly well, but there is one major thing we noticed in this episode: Why is Olivia wearing so many bright colors?
"The rest of this season is about Olivia being stronger than ever before," the show's costume designer, Lyn Paolo, tells InStyle. "She's fiercely independent and ever so slightly dangerous. She decided that she's going to present herself to the world as a different person. She's reinventing herself. We're trying to express that through how she looks. Because of that, we wanted her in exceptionally bright colors."
Underneath her black double-breasted Alexander McQueen coat (pictured above), Olivia wears a Narciso Rodriguez dress in a marigold yellow—a color we've never seen on her before. Guess who else has worn this dress though? "It's the same one that Mrs. Obama wore at the State of the Union address," Paolo tells us.
Shocked as we were to see her in that yellow hue, it was the bright orange Akris dress (above) in the opening scene that had us wondering where she left all her gray power suits. "That dress is the very first time we see Olivia in color, so we wanted it to be really bright," Paolo explains. "When she takes off her coat, it's so startling because you've just never seen her in this kind of color before. We did it purposely for shock value."
Later in the episode, she mixes those bright colors with more of her usual fare. She wears a red Escada coat with a floral pattern on it and underneath is a black Ralph Lauren sheath (above). "We're mixing a lot of black tones with the bright colors in this episode because with her new determination, there's also a darkness to that," Paolo says. "The audience will see a lot of interplay of black mixed with all these colors."
Olivia is not the only one wearing a different color scheme. Senator Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) visits Pope & Associates wearing a matching powder blue dress and coat by Carolina Herrera (above). Of course, it's for good reason. "Now that Olivia's in all the prime colors, like red, blue, orange, and purple, we have to balance the two women out," Paolo says. "You'll see a very different Mellie tonally because they're going to have to do a dance with the colors and tones of their costumes. We're going back to a softer Mellie."