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Jennifer Merritt
Sep 24, 2015 @ 12:15 pm

Washington, D.C. isn't exactly known as a fashion capitol. (Though Michelle Obama certainly does a great job of raising its style profile.) And Shonda Rhimes, the mega-creator of D.C.-based Scandal, as well as Grey's Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder, recently admitted to us that she’s “not really that much of a fashionista.” So how then, did Scandal’s Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) become such a style icon in her three years on the small screen?

While Rhimes gives the show’s “fabulous” costume designer, Lyn Paolo, much of the credit, she says she knew from the start that she wanted the clothes on Scandal (returning Thursday, Sept. 24) to be amazing. “Grey's Anatomy is a show about women who don't have time to care about that kind of thing and actually pride themselves on not caring,” Rhimes tells InStyle, “and this is a very different kind of world.”

RELATED: Shonda Rhimes to Release Her First Memoir in November

Different yes, but not entirely foreign to Rhimes, the reigning queen of Thursday night television. “I've been to Washington, and I didn't want us to actually look like Washington,” says the self-proclaimed political junkie (pictured below, with her Scandal star). “I wanted us to be the fantasy of Washington. I want you to look at Olivia Pope and want to be Olivia Pope.” (N.B. to Rhimes: It's handled.)

Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD

And might a little bit of Olivia Pope's fondness for designers like Armani, Gucci, and Michael Kors be rubbing off on a woman who admits she doesn't know much about fashion? “I've been enjoying a lot of designers just because I can,” Rhimes says. “I recently lost 100 pounds and now I'm wearing a whole different world of clothing.”

Season 5 of Scandal returns Thursday at 9/8c on ABC.

RELATED VIDEO: Scandal Season 5: Watch the "Twisty, Crazy" First Trailer

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