Just in time for the season finale of the critically acclaimed hit drama “The Good Wife”, I caught up with style guru, Dryel advocate and “The Good Wife” costume designer – Dan Lawson to discuss his life of fashion, designing the stylish TV moments and more. Check out my interview with Dan below…
At what age & what moment did you discover your love of fashion & style?
Well, I studied costume designer in college. Then, of course, one gets out of school and starts questioning everything. But I absolutely knew costume design was my calling when I saw the Merchant/Ivory film, “A Room With a View”. I was truly moved by the story that the clothing told in that movie. I was such a nerd, I even wrote the costume designer to say how much I loved her work. Of course, she didn’t write back, but I knew that was what I wanted to do nonetheless.
“Fashion” really came into play later when I started working in television on such shows as “One Life To Live”, “Lipstick Jungle”, “Kings”, and of course, “The Good Wife”. TGW in particular was the perfect marriage of costume design and fashion for me.
How do you use technology to achieve day-to-day accomplishments in the fashion field?
Computer is key! Research, correspondence, budget keeping, script work – everything goes through the computer. TGW tries to be as green as we can. So we do a lot through the computer. Even pattern making can now happen on the computer.
There are other technologies that we use as well. Instead of dry-cleaning all the time, we use Dryel. Some of our vendors use amazing machines to create our own fabrics. Superior irons like Rowenta that work incredibly well on clothes.
What are your favorite social media/fashion apps that you’re currently using?
I like Twitter. I like to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening out there at any given moment. Instagram is wonderful for research.
What’s a typical day in the life for Dan like?
VERY LONG!! I usually start by getting up at 5 and getting to set by 6:30 for a 7 AM call. I work with the actors on their costumes for the day and make sure everyone looks the way I want them to before they go to set. My team also checks/dresses the background actors. Once the first scene is up and running, I usually have to go to my office in the wardrobe space at the studio for fittings with new actors.
While we are shooting the current episode, I also have to prep the next episode. So in between checking actors before they go to set and fittings, I read the new script, break it down, research, shop, and work on roughing in the new episode’s wardrobe. There are usually at least 3 meetings that I have to attend during the 6 or 7 day prep for a new episode – the initial meeting on the episode (called a concept meeting), my costume meeting with the director/producer, and finally the production meeting where we go over all the nuts and bolts before we start shooting.
The day starts to wind down around 7. Our show tries to stick to a 12 hour shoot day. Sometimes it’s longer and every once in a while it’s shorter. Of course, if there is anything out of the ordinary with an episode, that takes extra time to handle.
We have long days Monday through Friday, but weekends are usually ours. Although, if a new script comes in or there is a rewrite, I have to deal with it on my day off. Episodic TV is a big machine and one has to stay in front of the work. It’s like waiting tables, once you’re in the weeds it’s usually too late to salvage the situation.
How do you keep the clothes you work with on set looking their best?
Our actors at TGW wear a lot of clothes as well as wearing the same outfit for days. Quite often they will have to wear a costume until the end of the day on day and then the first thing again in the morning. Everything gets steamed or ironed daily. We always run a lint roller over the clothing. We check for any small repairs that might need to happen. We check the buttons to make sure they are tight and perky – nothing worse than a drooping button on a suit, blouse or coat. Using the proper hanger is also very important. I usually like to have pants hang long rather than folded over a hanger to avoid creases right at the knee. We will also turn garments inside out to allow them to get air to the inside which helps freshen them up. We depill the knits. We also dry-clean but try to dry-clean as little as possible since the process can be quite wearing to clothing. We use Dryel a lot in the dryer to remove daily grime from all day wearing or stains. We also use it for freshening up blouses, dress shirts, skirts. It’s a great product too for rejuvenating vintage pieces or already worn pieces we pick up from the second-hand stores.
If you could only pack 5 items in your fashion survival kit, what would they be?
Female: the perfect skirt (pencil or “A”); a versatile blouse; a well-heeled pump that is comfortable (not an easy thing to find, but well worth the effort of looking!); a nicely maintained bag – not a backpack; a simple, elegant earring that goes with everything
Male: a well fitting suit; a white dress shirt with a nice crisp collar; a good leather belt; a classic dress shoe that is comfortable; and, like the ladies, a nicely maintained bag – not a backpack.
Want to keep up with Daniel Lawson, costume designer of The Good Wife. Follow him @GoodWifeFashion on Twitter and discover Dryel At-Home Dry Cleaner at retailers like Walmart and Target plus get social and connect with Dryel on Facebook and Pinterest today.