To kick off our three-part interview series with Hollywood’s most talented costume designers, we thought it only fitting to start by profiling the Costume Designers Guild president and designer from one of our all-time beloved shows – The Mindy Project. Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity to hear from the visionary woman behind Olivia Pope’s captivating work wardrobe and the imaginative designer responsible for Glee, Scream Queens, and American Horror Story!
It would be a gross understatement to suggest that Salvador Perez is merely busy – it’s akin to saying The Mindy Project is just ‘amusing’. Perez is responsible for the unforgettable ensembles of Mindy Lahiri and her friends, creating or overseeing each costume design featured on this remarkable television show. (This week, we were all left in awe at Mindy’s show-stopping watercolor dress and jacket—designed and crafted in the ever-talented Perez’s workshop.) In addition to creating designs for Mindy Kaling personally, he is also the President of the Costume Designers Guild. To top it off, this week he just launched a capsule collection with Gilt that was inspired by Mindy’s style! In a matter of minutes, several styles completely sold out! We managed to catch up with the mastermind behind these amazing outfits and those elegant coats.
Having had prior jewelry collaborations with BaubleBar, the Gilt collection was Perez’s inaugural Mindy-inspired clothing collab—and naturally, coats were its focal point. Since the pilot episode aired, eccentric colorful designs and patterned coats have been a staple of Mindy Lahiri’s unique style. “I am so thrilled with the response to the Gilt collection,” Perez says. “It was a limited collection, and I hope to continue offering more looks and additional sizing in the future. I would love to expand and design a ready-to-wear and a cocktail dress collection as well.” Absolutely!
[Related: 10 Life Lessons from Mindy Kaling]
It’s no wonder that Perez stepped into the realm of mainstream fashion design, as his roots began in studying to be a designer like renowned stylist Calvin Klein. “I could sew, so I fell into the film business because I could make a living sewing,” He exclaimed. After an impressive two-decade career in Hollywood, The Mindy Project was the perfect role for me – a true match made in heaven. “You always hope your design work will be recognized,” His words echoed in the room. “I think The Mindy Project was the perfect platform for the clothes on the show, and Mindy is such a huge fan of clothes that she makes people pay attention.”
[Related: What Fashion Designers Did Before They Were Famous]
According to Perez himself, the glowing reviews of his work on the show were attained through a continuous partnership between him and another party. “Mindy Kaling and I spend a lot of time talking about clothes—she is very involved in the process and really enjoys it, so she gives me so much time to fit and perfect her outfits,” Perez says. “We are constantly sending images to each other—I gather the clothes and we have very long fittings to put together her outfits.”
Through it all, Mindy Lahiri, M.D., stands out as one of the most remarkable characters to ever grace our TV screens. She is highly intelligent, hugely successful, and utterly unashamed of her passion for the ‘Real Housewives series. She’s an up-and-coming entrepreneur, a proud new mom, and always looks fabulous. “Mindy Kaling wanted the show to be aspirational, so we pushed the boundaries of fashion,” According to Perez.
To inject Mindy Lahiri’s signature fashion style into your work wardrobe, Perez suggests that it should not be about wearing certain designers. “It’s not really about the brands, but the pieces I buy from them,” he says. “It’s all about color, prints, and fit.” If you’re not sure where to start, why not take some style cues from Perez and Mindy? Their go-to pieces include designer labels like Tory Burch, Kate Spade, Lela Rose, Gucci, and Issa!
For all of the up-and-coming costume designers, I seized the opportunity to solicit advice from the President of The Costume Design Guild himself. “It’s a very competitive industry to break into,” Perez says. “Make yourself an asset. Learn to sew, learn a craft—that makes you more valuable, helps you get your foot in the door, and gives you a way to earn an income as you try to establish yourself.”
He additionally encouraged costume design aspirants to recognize that just like anything else, progress won’t happen overnight, and effort is needed to get there. “You will not start as a costume designer—you need to get set experience as a customer and work your way up,” He confidently proclaims. “There is more to costume design than just shopping and clothes—you have to learn to make and balance a budget, and deal with producers, directors, and actors. Clothes are only a small part of it. You need to work on student and independent films, so when you apply to work with a costume designer, you have some set experience.”
Perez provides invaluable counsel for all individuals working in creative fields, emphasizing that “Creativity is easy, but learning how to use your creativity takes time to master.” Persevere, strive hard and make bold wardrobe selections. Then, sit back and enjoy The Mindy Project – you’ll be well on your way to success!
Photo: Salvador Perez Design / Facebook