A new recurring character added to an already established cast can either be a challenge or a joy...and with Emma Rios it was both. Nadine Velazquez was cast as the new DDA and I was told would be a "tough cookie" and a thorn in the side of many of our Major Crimes squad. Designing a new character and nailing her style immediately is almost impossible, but with producers like I collaborated with on The Closer and now Major Crimes, the job is really almost a no-brainer...plus you have an incredibly beautiful woman like Nadine to dress and well, I could put a gunny sack on her and she'd look runway ready!From the beginning I wanted Rios to be real, because I am a "method costume designer" meaning I like to shop at the stores that my characters shop at and spend the kind of money they could afford to spend on their wardrobe...I knew Rios was single and a DDA with somewhat disposable income and she needed to have a certain sense of style that appealed to jurors, lawyers and now cops!
My talented former stylist and now shopper, Terry Salazar, who joined my costume team this season, and I started at my favorite store, Neiman Marcus...checked out various designer boutiques chose some Rebecca Taylor pieces, a couple Theory jackets and dresses and then moved over to The Grove, had lunch at Marmalade Cafe and poured through the racks at J. Crew and Banana Republic...checked out Nordstrom for shoes and brought our spoils back to the studio.
The show and tell for the producers and directors took place before I had even met Nadine. The gentlemen responded to the clean lines of simple sleeveless sheath dresses with a little flair at the hemlines, they liked the various necklines and responded to dresses better than pants! They suggested not using jackets very often and have a little fun with the new DDA. When I finally met Nadine, she really was informed of who Rios was to become by the costumes. She loved the dresses and skirts and blouses and her only real request was for impeccable fit and a good solid high heel. The actress left up to me her accessories and loved the vintage watches and simple hoop earrings I had bought for her. Terry had also brought me a collection of scarves to use as color boosters...I am not a fan of scarves, but for Emma Rios it seemed a nice way to accessorize and bring color to the blues of the Murder Room. I also loved adding belts and long necklaces to the characters costume closet.
In this second episode of Major Crimes, False Pretenses, Emma stumbled onto the dead bodies at the beach house in an oyster cotton Banana Republic sheath, we added a little peanut brittle leather J. Crew belt and a colorful striped scarf from J.C. Penney (Have you checked out the new decor boutique at JCP featuring Conran, Jonathan Adler and Martha Stewart...it's either going to be well received or send the venerable retail chain into Chapter 11, I bought an Adler peony scented candle and may go back for some bedding) the shoes Rios wore were a stack heeled bone pump with a chartreuse heel from Banana Republic. The really great white and peanut brittle hand bag was from Aldo. Her watch was a vintage gold Timex.
Some of my friends and fans have said that they feel Rios is not dressed appropriately for a DDA, well, perhaps in some parts of the country but in Los Angeles, as I was driving to a downtown location we were filming at recently, I drove by the L.A. County Courthouse. While I waited for the light to change half a dozen DDA Rios clones walked by my car...slim fitting dresses, skirts and jackets, high heels and flowing hair AND big purses acting as brief cases! So I felt confident that I had once again nailed a character with the help of my generous producers and trusting actors!
A little note about Sharon Raydor's costumes this episode, the gorgeous caramel herringbone jacket with honey brown leather trim and buttons is from Ralph Lauren and the print blouse she wore on Day 2 of the script was a beautiful water color print from Armani. The dress and suit were from Raydors closet and were several seasons old...see we do re-use costumes just like real people!
If you are ever wondering about changing your look or want towear something that you see on t.v. just go people watching...analyze how real people dress and adopt what you see us costume designers choose for our fictional characters for your own personal wardrobes and remember, mix it up, a little high end, a little mall shopping and don't forget about good ol' JCP!
Thanks for the tweets full of compliments and questions! Keep em coming and shop till you drop!