“The audience is really going to enjoy the parade of fashion that’s custom-made on the show this season.” -Salvador Perez
Anybody who’s ever watched a medical show knows that the clothes are the most boring clothes on television. That’s not what you’re there for – you’re there to watch the drama of the lives of the characters at the hospital. But Mindy Kaling wanted to break the mold. If you’re a fan of hers, you know that’s what she’s great at. She created a show concept around the idea of an Ob/Gyn who instead of wearing basic scrubs all day long, is known for her incredibly aspirational high fashion choices, as well as being a badass top doctor in New York.
Within a few episodes of season one, the audience was immediately captivated by Mindy’s outfits, instantly catapulting costume designer Salvador Perez into the public eye. As the show gained popularity, now in its fifth season, the budget also grew. Now it’s a designer’s dream job and ultimate playground.
If you have yet to watch an episode of the incredibly hysterical The Mindy Project, it’s worth it to watch it even just for the fashion. Perez buys clothes from all over the world and even custom-makes clothing for Mindy on a per episode basis. Mindy’s dolled up in everything from Chanel to Valentino and is accenting her outfits with custom-made printed coats that we all wish we could find in stores. (Seriously, we need more than black.)
Before the premiere of season five, we had the opportunity to talk to the incredible Salvador Perez. He shared everything from their thought process behind the original wardrobe for Mindy, to how he acquires the wardrobe, and why Mindy’s character only got more fabulous when she became a mother.
Q&A with Salvador Perez
When you first envisioned Mindy’s wardrobe, what was going through your head? How did you decide that Mindy’s character was going to be wearing high fashion?
We sat down with Mindy and she said “I really want this to be aspirational. I don’t want this to be about scrubs and lab coats. I want it to be high fashion. I want to push the look of the show.” Well that was a whole different vision of what I thought it was going to be. True to her words, there’s never “it’s too much” or “it costs too much.” Mindy has a particular vision of what the character would look like, and then she found me, who could actually bring it to reality.
It’s funny, I turned the job down four times. [All I] heard was that Mindy Kaling was doing a doctor show. Why would I want to do that? My agent said Mindy Kaling personally requested you and Anna Camp has personally recommended you; we had just finished Pitch Perfect (1).
Mindy’s not sample-sized so she couldn’t just borrow something like on Sex and the City; they borrowed samples. Mindy does not have that luxury. Having somebody that can custom-make for her, I know how to make clothing and make them fit. When I was doing construction, I was a cutter/fitter before I was a designer. And my cutter/fitter is equally brilliant. With the three of us, we can do almost anything. It’s a great collaboration. She just lets me do wild things and the character has evolved over the last five years. It’s a dream design job. You don’t ever get this sort of freedom.
A lot of the outfits Mindy wears are by top tier designers. How often do you incorporate less expensive pieces or fast fashion?
We run the gamut. We use colors, prints, and it all works beautifully, but I’ve never used just one brand head to toe. It’s always been a mix. That’s what we love. It’s not about the brands I’m using but how we put them together. Mindy loves that over-coordinated 1950s/60s diva look.
As the show became more successful, the budget became looser. I’m able to buy the European brands that we love now. We love Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Jimmy Choo. But, there was a lot of J. Crew and Banana Republic in the first season.