Daniel Lawson is the costume designer for CBS’s critically acclaimed drama series “The Good Wife” (Emmy nomination for costume design) starring Julianna Margulies, Christine Baranski, Josh Charles, and Chris Noth. Dan studied costume design at Northwestern University where he received his BS in theater followed by his MFA at Rutgers University, and made his first foray into television assisting on “One Life To Live” (2 Emmy nominations).
Following OLTL, Dan worked as an assistant on such television shows as “OZ”, “Dellaventura”, “Trinity”, and “Law and Order”. His first prime time designs were for the NBC series, “Third Watch” followed by CBS’s “Waterfront” with Joey Pantoliano and Mary Stuart Masterson, and NBC’s “Lipstick Jungle” with Brooke Shields. Dan’s next project was NBC’s lavish retelling of the Biblical story of David called “Kings” starring Ian McShane. After “Kings” Dan designed the costumes for the HBO comedy “Bored To Death” starring Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson, and Zach Galifianakis. In film, Dan’s independent features include “Hard Luck” with Wesley Snipes and Cybil Shepherd and “Lenexa, 1 Mile” with Jason Ritter and Billy Baldwin. He has also assisted on such movies as “Revolutionary Road”, “The Bourne Ultimatum”, “Enchanted”, and “Across the Universe”.
This past spring Dan was honored in New York City with the prestigious Theater Development Fund’s Irene Sharaff Young Master Award for his excellence in costume design.
Questions & Answers
Why did you decide to create your own line?
Designing a contemporary range for a television show involves a lot of shopping due to the fact that television is a very fast paced medium where time is always of the essence. My background was in the theater where I was always designing costumes that would be constructed. I found that I was longing for the time to be able to realize that side of costume design, although from time to time I did have opportunities on "The Good Wife" to build a garment here and a garment there. After doing the show for a while, I realized it would be a good idea to combine the popularity of my work on TGW with my design background to create elegant business wear for women. What a wonderful outlet for the creative side while providing clothing for the business woman.
Why did you choose number 35?
number 35 appeared on my radar after my publicist, Linda Kearns of The Matchbook Company, introduced me to them. Once I met with Andrea and saw the clothing, I recognized immediately that number 35 provided what I was constantly shopping for on the show - appropriate business wear that was chic and elegant, powerful and feminine, unique but not over the top. Andrea's dresses had sleeves! The fit skimmed the female figure beautifully. I also found that Andrea and I shared a similar aesthetic. We love a new modern look that can often spring from a classic silhouette. We love celebrating the female figure. We love empowering women by making them feel confident in what they wear. We love beautiful fabrics and appreciate superior construction. For me, as a costume designer, I found number 35 to be the buried treasure for which I had always been looking.
What did you feel was missing in the market?
First of all, dresses with sleeves. In talking to women and researching I have found that women, as do men, on the whole feel less confident and more vulnerable when they have exposed arms in a meeting. Secondly, simplicity. I don't think a female CEO can walk into a boardroom wearing over-designed outfits that are full of zippers and bows and ruffles in odd shapes. The professional business woman's outfit needs to be strong, with clean lines and chic. It needs to make an impression without taking over. The outfit needs to help her exude confidence and knowledge in her given field.
Overall the market was missing feminine suits. As the designer of a show that uses no less than one million "business" outfits, I find there to be a lot of women's suits that masquerade as men's suits. My feeling is that women should wear clothing that helps celebrate the female without taking away any power. A woman can look like a woman AND be as strong as any man can be.
What other clothes do you use on the show?
We use all brands on the show. As a costume designer, my job is to help tell a story and I do that through clothing that becomes a costume once it goes on camera. I support what the writers are trying to say and what the actors are trying to do. Therefore, I shop high end and I shop low end. Brand name-wise, in addition to number 35 and now 35·DL of course, I am a huge fan of Akris, Dior, Armani, Escada, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera. I use a lot of Basler and YSL is another favourite.
What are you looking for when choosing clothes for the show?
I always ask myself, "Does it look expensive? Does it or can it look chic?" The item doesn't have to BE expensive, just look like it. And I love a bargain as much as the next person. I want pieces that are elegant and convey character, which is what a "real" shopper should be looking for too; "does this article of clothing reflect me?"
I want clothing that will flatter the actor and is comfortable to wear. If a piece is not comfortable, you might wear it once and never again. Don't fool yourself into buying something that you have issues with in the fitting room simply because you "love" the piece. If you are questioning it in the fitting room, you'll question it at home and ultimately not wear it.
What is according to you the most important thing a woman should take into account when dressing for work?
"Is this appropriate for work and for what I have to do at work today?" I think that is first and foremost. Just as I do on the show, I make sure the clothing that I use on the actor for a particular scene is right for the character, is right for the story and is right for the scene and what is happening in the scene.