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Why are audiences so obsessed with what Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is wearing? ''It's a combination of Kerry Washington being so amazing, so stunning, and this idea of having [her character] wear such soft, feminine colors in a man's world,'' says Paolo. ''That really resonates with women.''
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The Gladiator Wears Prada
Or rather, carries it. ''There was only one purse in the pilot, and I only had Prada on the [inspiration] board because I happened to like the line that year,'' explains Paolo. Olivia now has three bags from the Italian label; two ''Saffiano'' totes (one black and one tan), and a cream-colored satchel called the ''Bauletto I Vit.Daino Talco Tu.''
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Dressed Up, Dressed Down
''Honestly, the thing I love the most is when she's at home in her silk pajama bottoms with some amazing cardigan. [But] of course, I love the gowns. I'm still in love with the Jean Ferre gown that [Olivia wore] when the President was shot,'' Paolo says. How does the wardrobe follow the plot? ''It works with the story and the audience really loves it,'' Paolo says. ''They think they know what's coming up, it's kind of like a game we play, a dance that we do.''
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''We're awaiting our final two episodes. I do not I know what Shonda Rhimes is going to do, I'm almost living in trepidation of what we're going to have to do to get that organized,'' Paolo admits of not knowing how she'll dress Olivia to face what lies ahead. ''I hope we have another ball or big gala event, I love doing those.''
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''When Shonda came up with the brilliant idea of flashing forward 10 months in the show, I joked to Kerry in the fitting, 'Let's put you in a color you've never worn before. No one is ever going to notice [except] me and you,'' Paolo says of putting Washington's character in this pistachio green Max Mara suit. ''[After the episode aired], I got a hundred tweets from [fans] who were like, 'You did that on purpose!'''
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''I was nervous because I hadn't met Kerry yet and I had sold this idea,'' Paolo remembers of coming up with the look of the character before meeting the leading lady. ''The first time we met, we hugged and she looked at the boards and said, 'You won't believe this!' She pulled all these pictures out of her purse and they were all the same kinds of [looks] that I had pulled. It was like, 'OK, we're both on the same page.'''
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Though most of the character's clothes, shoes and accessories are high-end, Paolo says she's not swayed by designer labels. ''It's more about the palette and the silhouette than it is about the designer. I don't feel any pressure, Kerry and I have a very good sense of who Olivia Pope is.''
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Style Sneak Peek
''Going forward, because there's such an interest in the fashion...the audience can expect to see some remarkable looks on Kerry and the rest of the cast,'' hints Paolo. But although fashion followers will continue to see Olivia in amazing pieces — like this Max Mara awning stripe coat — the show's other characters will get style upgrades. ''The whole cast gets a lot of attention, which is great because it's not all one person.''
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First Lady Fashion
''I really wanted Mellie [Bellamy Young] to look a little Jackie O.'' explains Paolo, who has outfitted the President's wife in Christian Dior, Escada, and Elie Tahari. ''To be fashion-forward, but still be true to the conservativeness of Washington and the fact that she's a Republican First Lady. Hence [wearing] pearls with everything, which [I think] is hysterical.''
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Commander in Boss
''Fitz is a trimmer, more youthful President. He wears a lot of Hugo Boss,'' says Paolo of Fitz's (Tony Goldwyn) non-traditional style. ''He wears a much younger looking suit, which I love. But you can't think too much outside the box, because the President is the President. ''
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The Designer at Work
''You sometimes do really lovely work and no one notices it, so it's really gratifying,'' says Paolo of the attention she's gotten for creating the Scandal wardrobe.