After seven critically acclaimed seasons, "The Good Wife" will conclude its run on Sunday. We'll miss the charismatic, but sometimes flawed characters, riveting story arcs and last, but definitely not least, Dan Lawson's costumes — from Kalinda's thigh-high boots and office inappropriate minis to Diane's impressive brooch collection to, of course, Alicia's elegant courtroom suiting. Debuting in 2009 — before Claire Underwood's minimalist political powerbroker outfits on "House of Cards" and Olivia Pope's stellar coat collection on "Scandal" — "The Good Wife" redefined how to power dress, without sacrificing style or femininity.
After putting off the inevitable, the costume designer finally broke down the wardrobe closet of leading lady Julianna Margulies — who won two Emmys and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Alicia Florrick — just a few days before we chatted. "Each piece served its purpose and if I used it, it was right for the scene and it was right for the episode," Lawson sighed. "That's one of the reasons that the wardrobe got the attention that it did. It’s not what I did. It's that the clothes supported the story and went hand in hand with the characters."
Luckily, Lawson has quite a bit on his plate to keep him from wallowing too much in nostalgia. "I'm already designing ['The Good Wife' creators] Robert and Michelle King's new series called 'Brain Dead,' he said. "It's very much 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' meets 'The West Wing.' The Emmy-nominated costume designer also designs a power dressing clothing line, 35•DL, which has been featured on "The Good Wife," and a jewelry collection with Pono. Plus, he's a Brand Ambassador for Dryel and he works with Lafayette 148 to host fashion shows. But "The Good Wife" will always be in the back of his mind.
"I know that Alicia and Diane [played by Christine Baranski] will be those characters who I will continue to shop for five years down the road," Lawson said wistfully. "I'll be in some shop and say, 'oh, this will be perfect for Alicia' and then realize I can't buy it." But before we completely bid adieu to the series, let's take a moment to revisit Lawson's five favorite costume moments, which were quite hard to narrow down. ("It's such a 'Sophie's Choice' for me,' he said.) Warning: There are no spoilers for Sunday's series finale below, but tons if you've never watched the series.
SEASON 4, EPISODE 18: THE LANVIN GOWN
"We only did evening gowns two or three times on show, so this pink and red silk satin Lanvin evening gown really stood out in my mind. I remember when we were deciding between it and an orangish tone Zac Posen gown, Julianna said, 'you know, I feel more important and stately in the Lanvin,' and I thought, 'oh, that speaks volumes.' She said it was really comfortable, I remember, and by the eighth day in a row that she had to wear it, she was like, 'yeah, I really hate this gown now.' [laughs]. But she really loved it and it was such a beautiful, beautiful look on her."
SEASON 5, EPISODE 15: THE JACKIE O.-INSPIRED SKIRT SUIT
"Another look that I think is very iconic and I think will resonate with fans is the suit [that Alicia is] wearing when she finds out that Will [Josh Charles] has been killed. This was a green and black interchangeable silk suit by the designer Karolina Zmarlak. I wanted to evoke the image of Jackie Onassis a little bit. I knew I wanted something that was slightly evocative of the early '60s, but it still needed to look very modern and very current. Alicia was going to be speaking at a fundraiser, so it needed to be something that would be appropriate for that. I loved the standing neckline — very '60s in feel. I had the jacket for a while — waiting for just the perfect moment to use it — but I felt like it needed to be a suit. So I contacted Karolina and they were able to manufacture a matching skirt within a day or two for us and just really completed the look."
SEASON 5, EPISODE 17: THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS
"Right after that episode, [Alicia] wore a 35•DL dress, my design from my line. That is what she wore to Will's funeral — actually, [the viewers] don't go to his funeral — we see her and Diane in a bar drinking after the funeral. And I loved it so much because the black dress was just quintessential funereal in feeling. But the asymmetrical neck made her feel modern and that really harsh angle of the neckline just really brought home the harshness of what had happened to Will. I remember when we did the fitting, [Margulies] put it on and just said, 'yup, this is it. It just feels right.' You really have to listen to the actor's intuition."
SEASON 6, EPISODE 16: THE RED POWER SUIT
When Alicia found out she won this election to be the State Attorney, I had her in this amazing bright red — I mean, it was red — Roland Mouret suit. I wanted her to just look like she'd just broken through and had arrived. I just wanted her to just be the absolute center of attention. She came in — she had a beautiful coat just draped over her shoulders and that coat is just quickly taken away — and she's just in this huge bright red dress and it just says 'I am victorious.' But then I knew what was coming down the pike and she was going to get knocked off of [the pedestal] in not too many episodes. So I really wanted to create the pinnacle, if you will, of success for her with the suit. I think that the asymmetry of the suit and the incredible body-conscious quality just played up her newfound confidence and her newfound strength as a politician and as a female and it was as far away from the very first, insanely dowdy jacket — when she smacked her husband in the pilot — that you could get."
SEASON 1, EPISODE 1: THE STARTER SUIT
"This is just totally, completely 100 percent sentimental, but I still think about — it makes me get teary — the very, very first outfit I ever did for her on the show and it was really simple. It was Arnold S. Levine for Tahari, so it was lower end and it had this black and white zebra scarf that came with it and with this interesting gold and black closure on the jacket. When I think about that suit, it was ever so slightly matronly. Maybe not matronly. It wasn’t overly sophisticated. And when I think about where her character started and where she ended up seven years later... I will always have a soft spot in my heart for that suit. I know that Julianna felt like it really placed her. Like it rooted Alicia and that was our springboard for our whole rest of the series with that suit."
Follow Dan Lawson on Twitter @DanLawsonStyle. "The Good Wife" series finale airs at 9 p.m. on Sunday, May 8.