C. Molly Smith
Updated Sep 01, 2017 @ 1:07 pm

The costumes on Hulu comedy The Mindy Project are colorful, vibrant standouts in what is often a more muted TV landscape. And naturally, there’s a whole lot that went into them, as costume designer Salvador Perez detailed at a recent opening reception for The Paley Center for Media’s new exhibit “The Mindy Project: Six Seasons of Style Curated by Costume Designer Salvador Perez.”

There, Perez spoke about the attention to detail put into the costumes, the affinity for custom design, the prominence of pink and floral, and much, much more! Here are some of the highlights:


The Mindy Project features a good amount of custom design, but how much of the clothes are customized and why? “At this point, 20%. And very little is off the rack, everything is tweaked,” Perez explained, adding that a dress might be shortened to fit creator and star Mindy Kaling’s frame, for example. “That’s the thing, these clothes are altered to fit Mindy. Nobody else can wear them. The coats, especially.”


Many of Mindy Lahiri’s looks embrace a lil glimmer. “As you can see, there’s always sparkle,” Perez said, pointing to the flashier looks at the exhibit. And that shimmer was a very conscious choice. In fact, Perez said he and Mindy have a favorite quote that touches on just that: “Sparkle makes everything better.”

Credit: Imeh Bryant / The Paley Center for Media


Perez and his team pay a ton of attention to detail, even though much of it won’t be seen by an audience. “Although the audience doesn’t see it, Mindy sees it and it just makes her happy,” he said. “She’s a great collaborator, so to put that much effort in and have her appreciate it inspires us to do more.”


Now, six seasons in, the clothes are very out there — between all the sparkle, flashy colors, and mixed prints. But Perez was hesitant to go there at first. As an example, he explained that he thought the below yellow cardigan look included too many prints, but that’s nothing compared to some of Mindy’s later outfits.

Credit: Imeh Bryant / The Paley Center for Media


In a fun bit of trivia, Perez revealed that Mindy’s bright pink look for her very first day of work had a unique inspiration. “We had a flashback to Mindy’s first day at work. And I thought, what would a much younger Mindy wear to the office? Well, she’d be Barbie! So that’s literally a Barbie suit, hand-beaded with pearls and crystals.” With all that pink, we’re getting some strong Elle Woods vibes too.


Perez previously dressed a pregnant Mindy Lahiri on the show, and now he’s dressing an IRL pregnant Mindy Kaling. Her pregnancy is being concealed onscreen, so how is that going? “So far, so good. She doesn’t show yet. We have another [few] weeks of shooting, I’m hoping to get away with it, but I’m buying lots of stretch.”

Credit: Imeh Bryant / The Paley Center for Media


It turns out Chris Messina has something in common with his character Danny Castellano, because he’s the most particular actor when it comes to costumes. “He’s so stuck in his ways,” Perez said with a laugh. “I have to be like, ‘Try some stretch jeans, or put on a burgundy shirt!'”


Perez said that Kaling keeps a pretty open mind when it comes to costumes, but there was one print he had to convince her to embrace. “It’s funny, you see a bunch of floral in [this exhibit]. She would not wear floral when I first met her. I was like, ‘Let me show you how to wear floral.’ And then, she was on the cover of InStyle in a floral dress, so I think I’ve had a pretty good influence.”

As for Kaling’s influence, “She’s a voracious fashion reader, so she will come up with new designers that I’ve never heard of.”

Credit: Imeh Bryant / The Paley Center for Media


Perez turned down his job multiple times, but ultimately decided to take that first meeting because of Anna Camp’s involvement in the show. (He worked with her on Pitch Perfect, and she appeared in earlier seasons of The Mindy Project.) “I really pictured a show about lab coats…and scrubs,” he said. “I never would have imagined this.” For our part, we’re so glad he came around on the idea.

“The Mindy Project: Six Seasons of Style” will be on display at The Paley Center in Beverly Hills through October 1st.