Photo Courtesy of Paley Center for Media
Suits and Pearson costume designer, Jolie Andreatta has ‘suited up’ the likes of Gina Torres (Jessica Pearson) and Meghan Markle (Rachel Zane) so well that their looks have not just turned heads: they have turned cameras.
Yes, that is correct. Torres, who is known for her luxuriously legal looks, accessorized with a purposeful and unwavering demeanor in private settlements, courts and now the world of Chicago politics, asked one of Pearson’s directors to adjust the set accordingly to properly showcase her ensemble.
“[She said] ‘the back of this dress has to get on camera.’” Andreatta heard from someone on set that day. “That camera set-up got to be known as ‘the Jessica walkway’ for more reasons than just a dress.”
Workwear is not intended to be the focal point of the two USA Network shows Torres has been on, Suits and Pearson. Rather the power and intelligence of the characters draw audiences to the screen. They just happen to look good while closing high-profile cases.
“When USA Network first started making original programming, it was known for its blue skies feel as [their shows] were set in beach towns: Burn Notice in Miami, Royal Pains in the Hamptons, Psyche in Santa, Barbara,” Rene Reyes, Executive in Charge of Production of the Paley Center for Media told Krischic Media. “Suits, and to some extent White Collar too, two dramas that premiered just after those, set a different style tone with more sophisticated looks appropriate for the characters and the stories they were telling.”
It is hard to deny Pearson’s (Torres) strength and authority as a former lawyer and firm partner when the camera angle catches her camel-colored Michael Kors coat just right, or a stunning head-to-toe Fendi suit.
“It really becomes a skin for the character that you’re trying to portray,” Reyes told Krischic Media. “You stand taller in these clothes, you feel a little bit more powerful in a sense, and I think it adds to the overall feel to the performance and feel of the show.”
For those that drool over Pearson, Zane and Donna Paulsen’s (Sarah Rafferty) accoutrements like I do, the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills has assembled about 16 looks across both shows for fans to see up close.
“A small ruffle, the slit of a skirt at the hemline… you might not notice onscreen, but seeing them in person you see all the detail and the work that goes into finding these costumes for actors on the show, to give them a distinct personality and fashion sense,” Reyes told Krischic Media.
The exhibition, curated by Andreatta herself, is a fashionable farewell to Suits as the show is closing with its ninth and final season. The curation is also a wardrobe welcome to Pearson, the continuation of Jessica Pearson’s post-disbarment story set in the Chicago political sphere.
But it seemed like not long ago that the original Suits cast, including the Duchess of Sussex herself, sat on multiple Paley Center panels discussing the show. Reyes recalls one of those cast Q&As during season two when Markle exclaimed her gratitude for being on the Paley Center stage when she was once a clerk at Paper Source “just down the street.”
“One block difference between there and the Paley Center but an incredible leap in her public persona at that time,” Reyes remarked to Krischic Media.
Markle who brought Rachel Zane to life, clad in Ralph Lauren and Gucci, also made a leap into style stardom in Hollywood—long before she set fashion trends as a British royal. Andreatta reminisces about one of her cherished moments with Markle during a Suits fitting.
“Our fittings were always full of OMG moments. From the perfect Tom Ford shirt to a vintage Chanel blouses, or YSL and Chloe bags…” Andreatta recalls to Krischic Media. “Jewelry was another great joy for us. [Meghan’s] admiration for a ring I designed resulted in her having to have it. I couldn’t have felt more cool [in that moment], or at least that my work was cool.”
Savants of Suits style can agree that Andreatta’s handiwork is pretty cool. In a television landscape filled with contemporary legal dramas, Renes told Krischic Media that Suits and Pearson’s style stands out in their stylish subtlety.
“[The fashion] is still dazzling in its effect and are looks from designers that are the best in current couture, but everything is so true to the character and the situations they are in,” Reyes told Krischic Media.
Being the style-sleuth that I am, I cannot help but comment to Reyes on the coincidental timing of Pearson’s series premiere, especially during the 2020 elections. And it is difficult for me not to see the most likely unintentional parallels of fictional Jessica Pearson and presidential candidate and Senator Kamala Harris, two incredibly successful women who have a background in law and significantly operate in the realm of politics.
“Both [television and movies] have pushed fashion forward, but at the same time reflected what was happening in the world at the time based on the different subject matter each show was covering,” Reyes commented to Krischic Media. “I do think [Kamala Harris] is stylish. [Politics] a hard arena for anyone to be in, particularly women because there is a whole focus on their appearance that there really shouldn’t be. That is something that effects women in a lot of industries, not just politics specifically, but hopefully shows like Suits and people like Kamala can break that trend.”
Andreatta comments that women in law and politics can learn a thing or two from Suits and Pearson about showcasing themselves through their outfit choices. She sees this as an asset rather than a detriment.
“I believe there’s a way for women to dress in politics in this day and age that could be more admired,” Andreatta told Krischic Media. “I’ve been told that Suits influenced the way women now looked at dressing in the professional work place, so perhaps Pearson will do the same in the political environment.”
Reyes does hope to bring the Pearson cast up to the Paley platform in the future. In the meanwhile, fans can catch the exhibition until September 15 and expect two future television fashion displays on TV period drama style in October.
What are your favorite TV Show Costumes?
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