• Mindy Kaling in 'The Mindy Project'. (Fox)Source: Fox
Costume designer Salvador Perez talks us through the inspiration behind the outfits.
Devon Ivie

24 Oct 2017 - 10:29 AM  UPDATED 24 Oct 2017 - 10:29 AM

Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) may constantly shift through her male suitors and motivations in The Mindy Project like there’s no tomorrow, but there’s one source of stability our leading heroine always falls back on: her unique sense of style. Throughout the rom-com’s six-season run, Mindy’s outfits have arguably become the most colourful and vivacious on television, with her character seemingly sporting every colour and print under the sun. (Everything except for black, of course.) As we approach the end of the series, Salvador Perez, the show’s Emmy-nominated costume designer, walked us through all of Mindy’s signature looks.


Season one, episode two

“The outfit Mindy wore when she met Seth Meyers’s character. This outfit stands out to me, as it set the tone for her character. It was a yellow cardigan, a horse print top, a black-and-white plaid skirt and grey tights. It was fun and eclectic, and it showed me Mindy wasn’t afraid to have fun with clothes. At the time it seemed so radical — now, by comparison, it’s subdued.”


Season one, episode six

“The hot mess dress. Mindy’s lines from the show have created so many memes, this was a classic: ‘I just figured if I’m gonna be a mess, I might as well be a hot mess.’ Mindy went to Thanksgiving dinner at Gwen’s (Anna Camp) house and was upset her ex-boyfriend brought his new hot girlfriend, so she went up to Gwen’s closet and came down in this metallic studded Rebecca Taylor dress. It was sexy and tight and inappropriate. I needed to get three of them because she had to shoot a fight scene in it.”


Season one, episode 21

“The first lemon-print dress. Season one was about figuring out her character’s style. I found this fantastic Alice + Olivia lemon-print dress and thought it was hysterical. Mindy loved it, too, but it had a weird strappy back, so we recut the dress, and of course we added a magenta cardigan, which covers the back anyway. You will recognise the cardigan as we also have it in yellow from earlier in the season. When Mindy likes something, we get it in all the colours available.”


Season two, episode seven

“The rocker look. It was one of the first times I put Mindy in a solid black piece of clothing. It seemed so odd. The caramel-colored leather jacket and sequined mini-skirt needed to be against a dark background. I loved this edgier version of Mindy and it set the tone that she would dress accordingly to the type of guy she was dating. I think Mindy has the most beautiful legs, so I loved putting her in a mini-skirt.”


Season two, episode 20

“The yellow coat outfit. By this point, the mixed patterns and bold colours had become synonymous with Mindy’s look. In this scene, Danny (Chris Messina) was supposed to watch Mindy walk across the street to another man. I wanted her to stand out in the shot, so the bright golden yellow custom-made coat over the mixed patterns of the Alice + Olivia Houndstooth dress and C Wonder heart-print blouse was perfect. I added a pink and orange Prada bag, and Hale Bob scarf. It’s still one of my favourite looks from the show.”


Season two, episode 22

“The Empire State Building outfit. This was the first completely custom outfit we made for Mindy. A pink plaid vest and skirt, polka dot blouse and plaid tie that matched the lining of the vest. We had just seen American Hustle and wanted to play with menswear, but in a feminine way. Mindy loved that it was custom-made, so no one else would have anything like it, so we decided to do more custom-made outfits and not only just the coats.”


Season three, episode 11

“The green-beaded wing dress. I love Christmas parties, and Mindy likes dressing up. In the storyline, Mindy was going through a lot of emotions and I wanted to dress her like an angel, so I designed the beading on the dress to be wings, as if she had tucked them on her side. I called my friend, the famous beader Paule Drissi, whom I met when I was running the workrooms on Titanic, and asked her to bead the dress. She is truly a master of her craft; it’s a work of art. Being able to design costumes at that level for a contemporary TV show is rare, but with my background in costume construction and a great team in my department, I love what we get to do on this show.”


Season three, episode 21

“Mindy’s first sari. I have always loved traditional Indian dress, so when the storyline was that Mindy was going to dinner with her family in Boston, I asked Mindy if I could put her in a sari. She loved the idea. So I went to Artesia, which is a community near Los Angeles that has lots of sari shops and found this spectacular fuchsia, beaded sari. But I had to put it over Mindy’s pregnancy pad, so we made the top longer to cover it. When Mindy arrived on set and stepped out of the van, the entire crew applauded. She looked like a princess.”


Season four, episode one

“The black plunging-neckline dress. I had designed a dress for Mindy to wear to the People’s Choice Awards in shocking pink with a very deep plunging neckline. My seamstress, Sivorn Price, engineered it with a custom-made metal V in the cleavage. We called the neckline ‘The Mindy’. We have made a couple of versions of it. When we needed a great cocktail dress for Mindy to wear in the dream sequence, we decided to do a Mindy neckline dress. Mindy wanted it to be black, and as it was a dream, I decided it was OK to wear black, as opposed to a bright colour. We had the neckline crystallised to add sparkle. Of course, they added a stunt in the rain, so we had to make three of the dresses at the last minute, but the images of Mindy in this dress are magical.”


Season four, episode 13

“The Barbie suit. We had a flashback to Mindy’s first day at Schulman & Associates. I thought her style should be slightly different, but still very Mindy. We custom-made the pink suit, trimmed the suit in the same pearl-print silk as the blouse, and finished off the suit with pearl and crystal trim. This was a lot of detail that probably wasn’t going to be seen on camera, but Mindy loves it and appreciates it, so it makes it so worthwhile.”


Season four, episode 22

“The second lemon-print dress. I found this lemon-print dress from Dolce & Gabbana and almost didn’t buy it because she had worn a lemon dress before. But once I saw it on her, I loved it. They also made a matching purse so I bought that, too. We shortened the dress and made Mindy a matching headband. Some fashion rules say not to match too much, but I think that’s crazy – more is better! Dolce & Gabbana also had a bright-yellow silk cardigan and it added just the perfect pop of colour.”


Season four, episode 26

“The Madeline dress and floral coat. Mindy told me she was going to have one outfit change for most of the episode, so the outfit had to be visually interesting. I designed the colour-block dress with lace insert and black bow, and designed a matching floral coat with crystal buttons. This way you see the floral coat first and then the dress later. I picked up the pink colour in the flowers and added a big pink Chanel bag. I had bought several yellow bags, but it needed the contrast to make it interesting. This outfit was huge fan favourite, and I loved that season five picked up where we left off in season four and she got to wear the outfit again.”


Season five, episode five

“The diva outfit. Mindy was going to see a play with Jeremy (Ed Weeks), who always dresses for the theatre. So I decided to make it a diva outfit. We custom-made the party dress and added matching trim to a hat, some fabulous gold Dior sequin pumps and finished it off with a faux-fur wrap. It was old-school Hollywood diva.”


Season five, episode 14

“The black floral tea-length dress. We had used a lot of Lela Rose dresses on Mindy. This dress was so beautiful. I loved the floral embroidery and picked up the colour in her earrings from J Crew. I love their jewellery and usually buy the whole collection each year. They have great colours and crystals, and they look so lavish on camera. This look was very regal on Mindy.”


Season six, episode one

“The Dolce & Gabbana hydrangea-print outfit. We loved this print so much we bought it in two styles. I wanted to break up the print so I added a St John sweater vest that matched so beautifully. Of course, they made a matching bag and it was the perfect accessory. I decided to go with a white Louboutin pump to finish off the look. It was fresh and summery, and a great way to start off the final season of the show.”


Season six, episode one

“Tassel-print dress. I am often inspired by fabric. I found this beautiful tassel-printed silk and thought it would make a beautiful dress. I designed a purple coat to got over it, but it seemed so plain. I thought a 3-D tassel detail would be fabulous, so we searched all over the world, literally, to get tassels that matched. We found them in Europe. My seamstress, Sivorn, who does the most beautiful handwork, sewed each one on by hand. Anyone else would have sloppily sewed them on. It’s such a lavish detail but it’s what I wanted for the final season of this show.”


The Mindy Project airs Tuesdays at 10:15pm on SBS VICELAND. Episodes will be available by 2pm on SBS On Demand.

Watch the latest episode here:

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