Fans of The Good Wife may have to wait until March for new episodes, but they can get their fashion fix later this month thanks to a new clothing line by series costume designer Daniel Lawson.
The Emmy-nominated Lawson teamed up with Andrea Cohen of British label Number 35 to create a collection of business professional clothes that echoes the show’s tailored, boardroom style.
“My experience on The Good Wife inspired me and inspired us. How could it not after doing it for so long?” Lawson told EW of the line, which will include blazers, pencil skirts, trousers, and shift dresses in basic solids like red, blue, and black. “I wanted it to be clean, elegant, chic, strong, but still feminine. That’s what I do on The Good Wife.”
Priced from £225.00 ($369.45 US) to £850.00 ($1395.78), the pieces are currently available for pre-order on the 35-DL website and will ship January 31st. Lawson and Cohen are already working on the label’s next collection. “With 35-DL, it was about longevity and not just a capsule,” Lawson said. We’ll do several collections and [we hope] to have a long marriage.”
Read on for an exclusive Q&A with Lawson — including what you can expect when the show returns — and a first look at the 35-DL collection.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did the clothing collection come about?
Lawson: My publicist, Linda Kearns at the Matchbook Company, had met Andrea Cohen who owns and designs for Number 35 in London. She thought the clothes that Andrea does were similar to what I use on the show, so she had us meet in December 2012. We hit it off. I used some of her clothing on The Good Wife right away because I thought it was elegant and chic. I was customizing a lot of the pieces for the show and we worked well together, so we decided to do a line together She said, “I need to know you’re in this for the long haul. I don’t want somebody who’s just going to come in for a season or two.” That was music to my ears.
How would you describe the line?
Andrea’s strengths are designing clothing for the professional, successful working woman — clean, elegant. What I bring to it [is] a bit more of a feminine, but still powerful, feel. I’m all about celebrating the feminine. A professional woman can’t walk into a board room with bare sleeves. They’re going to feel self-conscious or insecure about their arms in a room full of men.
How does designing a clothing collection relate to what you do as a costume designer?
In TV, you design it today and it’s worn tomorrow. We’ve already designed the 35-DL autumn/winter ’15 collection, [which will] definitely will help me incorporate it into [future episodes of] the show. We’re already three-quarters done shooting the current episode, and I will use more than half of the spring collection on the show. This is where the world of the costume designer collides with the world of the clothing designer. The costume designer’s goal is to tell the story [I ask myself], “How can I best help Robert and Michelle King tell that story?” The clothing designer in me is like, “Let’s use all the pieces!” But they have to tell the story. It’s something we’ve been so careful about every season. We choose wardrobe pieces that best tell what’s going on in and helps set the story arc.
What have Julianna Margulies and the other female cast members said about the line?
They love it. When I fit them, I don’t go in and say, “I’ve got a Gucci here, a McQueen here, a Dan Lawson here!” We just put the clothes on. Sometimes it’s for a specific scene and sometimes it’s for the character’s closet, so that we’ll have lots of choices when it comes to putting together an episode. When I was fitting them, I didn’t want to tip my hand. I’d put it on them and they were like, “This is so chic. I love this… Is this yours?” I’d say, “Yeah.”
Which characters will be wearing the line?
I just did the fitting with them before we went on hiatus for the holidays. We’re on our fourth day back. They haven’t actually worn them yet, but they’re going to. They’ll probably be in the next episode or two. I’m trying pieces on Julianna and on Christine Baranski. We have a few episodes in a row where one leads right into the next, so we haven’t been able to jump away from existing wardrobe yet.
Other series-inspired clothing lines have launched recently and costume designers are starting to incorporate pieces into their shows. Is this the future of costume design?
Which comes first the chicken or the egg? Back in the day, years ago, it was the film industry and costume designers who were putting out there what fashion icons were wearing in Hollywood. Joan Crawford’s costume designer [Adrian] designed this amazing dress that Joan wore in the MGM film Letty Lynton. Macy’s knocked the dress off and they sold hundreds of thousands them. You have costume designers like Edith Head who started their own fashion lines because of their work as costume designers. It wasn’t necessarily that the designers were using exactly what they used in a film, but they were creating these clothes for the film and they realized the [public] demand for them. I have 11 million people looking at what I do, I go into their homes with my work. Especially in the last five or ten years, the lines between reality and fantasy [are] blurring and [things you see on TV are more] attainable.
We’ve seen it most recently with The Hunger Games and Pretty Little Liars.
In the case of Pretty Little Liars, that is the costume designer designing in the ilk of those characters, which is cool. [Mad Men designer] Janie Bryant did a collaboration with Banana Republic. Think back to Flashdance in the 80’s — what Jennifer Beals wore became a worldwide sensation in fashion. That was based on what the costume designer had done. There’s a Good Wife collaboration with Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture that [set decorator] Beth Kushnick helped them create. Now she’s doing her own line based on her aesthetic. This isn’t just a Good Wife clothing line. It’s my aesthetic, which happens to coincide with The Good Wife aesthetic.
What’s coming up on The Good Wife?
Wardrobe-wise, heading into the last third of our season we’ll be seeing Alicia continuing [down the same path]. We’ve pulled color out of her wardrobe this season — because she was leaving the firm — a little bit and that will continue. We’ll see a cleaner, sleeker line to her look. It was very much about not wanting to draw attention to herself. She was a bit of a double agent. That had a lot to do with pulling the color out — so that she didn’t stand out too much against the other partners at the firm.
Can you give us any hints about the storyline?
Robert and Michelle King always keep us guessing. I can’t give anything away! Season five has been very much about throwing the cards up in the air and seeing where they fall and then throwing them up in the air again. We’re going to see that again. Things happen that are really going to make all our characters reassess themselves, their relationships, their success or their failures. The wardrobe will go along with that. We’re going to see people questioning as we move along the rest of the season. It’s great to work on a show that I’m a fan of. This year, it was so fresh and new. Robert and Michelle have recreated the show. It’s emblematic of life. We all go through those periods where for months on end it seems like every time you think you’re settled it all gets thrown up in the air again. That’s what’s happening.
How much do you collaborate with the actors on what they wear?
It’s extremely collaborative. I’m lucky on The Good Wife because we have amazing actors who are good at their jobs and who let me do what I need to do. We have a real trust with each other. We’re always talking and trying to figure it out together. Maybe it’s because they trust me, but vanity takes a backseat and it becomes [about] the story and the character.
See Good Wife costume designer Daniel Lawson’s full clothing collection on the 35-DL website.