Dressing The Mindy Project’s Mindy Lahiri is a costume designer’s dream – the title character is a doctor, which means she can afford to fill her closet with designer labels, and the star who plays her is obsessed with all things fashion.
“I will be up at 1 in the morning and I’ll get an e-mail from Mindy that says, ‘Did you see this great outfit at ShopBop?’ She loves, loves, loves clothes,” says Salvador Perez (Pitch Perfect, Veronica Mars, Castle), who notes that costume fittings with Kaling – who is also the series creator – can last up to four hours. “In the real world, you don’t need to have ten new outfits a week, but the character does. [Kaling] gets to live out her fashion editor fantasies through the show.” As season two unfolds, Mindy’s wardrobe keeps pace with real-world fashion trends. “The character has a signature style, but as fashion has evolved, so has Mindy [Lahiri]’s look, because she’s constantly shopping. We’re working with what’s new on the market,” explains Perez, who was recently elected President of the Costume Designers Guild. The designer has also tweaked the character’s costumes to complement her short hair, which will soon grow back thanks to the magic of television. “Sadly…you won’t really be seeing that short hair anymore. I personally was a big fan of the short hair, it gave us a whole new way to dress her. We took away the layers and the collars, we did boat necklines, and we used pieces that showed off her beautiful neck. The wig showed that off, so I really played it up.”
Meanwhile, Perez says that Kaling isn’t the only Mindy Project star who gets caught up in the costumes. Chris Messina and Ed Weeks have been known to borrow an item or two from the wardrobe closet. “They love the clothes so much that they want to wear them out. It’s the highest compliment,” admits Perez. ”A lot of times I’ll dress someone and they’ll say, ‘I would never wear that [in real life].’ I’m like, ‘We’re not asking you to wear it. We’re asking your character to wear it.’ When they want to borrow, it’s flattering. if they have parties or events, they’ll ask to borrow a suit.” Perez is happy to oblige, with one caveat: “I’ll [say], ‘As long as it comes back, please wear it with good health.’”
Click through the photo gallery to see what Perez says about using more doctor’s scrubs, working with guest stars like James Franco and Timothy Olyphant – and new series regular Adam Pally – and which actor wears a fat suit.
In season one, the characters were rarely seen in scrubs, but that’s about to change. “I got a note from the studio that they don’t look like doctors because they’re usually out gallivanting or having lunch. They’re not really seeing patients. To make them look more like doctors, we’ll throw them a lab coat, but look at the people who do E.R. or Grey’s Anatomy,” Perez explains. “The way [costume designers] dress doctors on camera is completely different from the way doctors [dress] in real life. Scrubs are meant to be comfortable and pajama-like… but on television or in film, everything is completely redone. Mindy’s scrubs have two zippers, a side zipper, a back zipper, so that they can mold to her body and show off her silhouette. We shorten the pants; we take in the waist, no real doctor wants to take that much time. For the amount of work we put into them, we should custom make them.”