The Good Fight costume designer on dressing Christine Baranski's powerful Diane Lockhart
The script makes the story. And the wardrobe in The Good Fight makes the characters.
The spin-off series, stemming from the fantastic The Good Wife, now in its second season has introduced a whole new set of characters and timley political story lines, but one thing remains: the aspirational and sophisticated office wardrobe that's turned characters like Diane Lockhart, played by Christine Baranski, into inspirations — for real and fictional women.
"Robert and Michelle King (show creators) let me modulate the wardrobe as the characters go through all of these experiences they're having and I think that just helps make it even more realistic to the audience," Daniel Lawson, the show's wardrobe designer and stylist tells EW. "I'm really lucky that I get to tell and sort of underscore the story and emotions with the wardrobe."
Although The Good Wife definitely set the standard for chic and powerful office dressing with Julianna Margulies' character, Alicia Florrick, Lawson has yet again raised the bar with Baranski's style in the Good Fight. The wardrobe designer has successfully created a new aesthetic for working women, one that celebrates the fusion of femininity and unapologetic power. As Lawson tells EW, "it wasn't going to be plain boring clothes on a lawyer show."
"I liked the idea of her being sort of a fashionista, really liking clothes. When I put that idea out to Robert and Michelle, the studio and the network, everybody seemed to really like it," Lawson says. "And certainly Christine brings that to the part. She can carry that very well."
Lawson has worked with Baranski since Lockhart appeared in the first episode of The Good Wife. Looking back to that episode where the actress was dressed in a gray flannel suit and looked "sort of mannish," according to the stylist, he decided to make a statement with the character's style and inject it with fashion, starting with some jewelry.
"Christine and I talked about this, when we go back to the very first episode we did. She said to me: ‘You know, I think she should just have a little bit of jewelry, not too much. I want it to seem realistic.' After the second or third episode she wanted more jewelry," recalls Lawson.
Experimenting with jewelry, though, might seem like child's play when looking at Baranski's "experimental" wardrobe in the current season of the show. Her character is experiencing some changes, from dealing with death threats to trying micro-dosing. Her clothes are a reflection of the "growth, digression, and change that Michelle and Robert write for these characters," through patterns, texture, and color. <iframe class="giphy-embed" src="https://giphy.com/embed/eBfqZKQcs3fkyQCyGK" width="480" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" resize="0" replace_attributes="1" name=""></iframe>
"We've pumped up her wardrobe a little more because Diane goes through this whole ‘I don't care' phase. On the show she says ‘what the f—' all the time and when we were doing our fitting, it was really fun. I'd be like ‘this might be really crazy but let's put this with this and this.' Christine would stand back look in the mirror and she'd say ‘you know what? what the f—, I love it!'" Lawson says.
The wardrobe designer's efforts to make a statement with Baranski's wardrobe hasn't gone unnoticed, even dating back to his Good Wife days. He recalls using a Michael Kors dress on Margulies' character and eventually seeing it on former First Lady Michelle Obama during the State of the Union address.
"Christine and Julianna would come up to me and say, ‘You have no idea how many female lawyers stop me on the street and thank me because they feel like they have permission to not only wear a black suit to court,'" Lawson said. "Real life lawyers felt like they could be more stylish with the way they look and the women in both shows sort of set that tone."
Lawson is very much aware of the power of clothes and doesn't ignore the fact that "we've sort of raised the reality level," a reality he says is "aspirational but not unattainable." The wardrobe designer says it's all just part of the world Michelle and Robert King have created. "If what I was doing with the clothes wasn't supporting the story and was stealing focus from the story then the wardrobe would be completely unsuccessful, but the clothes further the story, support our actors, the writing, and the beautiful sets."
The Good Fight streams Sundays on CBS All Access.
Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles, and Chris Noth star in the legal/family drama.