Comedy isn’t the only colorful aspect of Mindy Kaling’s eponymous sitcom. The half-hour slot has attained just as much regard for Kaling’s on-screen wardrobe as it has her hilarious punchlines. That is all thanks to costume designer Salvador Perez.
Perez juggles 15-plus costume changes for Kaling per episode with work on Pitch Perfect 2, and his presidential duties for the Costume Designers Guild. He tops that off with designer collaborations at the likes of BaubleBar, and most recently, Baby-G. In between his packed agenda, Perez let Glam in to his creative world. We spoke with him about building Kaling’s signature on-screen look, his first professional gig, and what every woman should know about accessorizing.
Glam: If you could pick a style icon for Kaling’s character on the show, who would it be, and why?
Perez: When I first met with Mindy to discuss the show, she told me she wanted to make a statement like Carrie Bradshaw did on Sex and the City. She made bold fashion choices and was fearless about what and how she wore clothes. In that sense, Carrie is our style muse and can be seen in the dynamic fashion choices Mindy makes each episode.
Glam: What is your favorite Mindy Project outfit and how did it come together?
Perez: I have a new favorite outfit every episode! I love what we get to do on this show and am especially proud of the custom design work we get to make for Mindy. Her Christmas dress is a real standout piece this season so stay tuned for that!
Glam: What was it like your first time on set as a costume designer?
Perez: My first real design job was for the feature film Soul Food [in 1997]. I had a large cast so there were lots of costume changes, and on a small budget. The nicest compliment from that set was that Vanessa Williams requested her entire wardrobe because she loved it so much. Years later we did another film together and she was still wearing one of the custom leather jackets I had made.
Glam: You’ve teamed with BaubleBar before and now, Baby-G. How do you approach creating something new with accessories brands, as opposed to with clothing?
Perez: It has to be organic. I work with brands that I want to use or that my characters would wear. My collaborations have been a match made in heaven in that sense. I love the Baby-G watches and I use them all the time on my characters for that extra pop of color and functionality. If I am going to promote a brand, I have to believe in them.
Glam: What is the best advice you can offer about accessories?
Perez: Have some fun! Accessories are meant to make you stand out from everyone else. Two people can be in the same dress, but it’s how they each accessorize it that makes the look unique.
Glam: You’re known for your use of color. What advice do you have for someone who is afraid to brighten things up?
Perez: I always say that clothing is not a tattoo; it’s not permanent, so why not take some chances? Be adventurous, experiment with color, have some fun—trust me, you’ll get lots of compliments on your colorful choices because you’ll stand out from the crowd.
Glam: What is something that any Mindy Project viewer can take away from Mindy’s sense of style?
Perez: Clothes can be so much fun, mixing up a print or a pop of color can completely change the style of an outfit. The clothes Mindy wears are basic—a blouse, a skirt, etc.—but it’s the color and prints that really make the statement. I encourage viewers to have fun with their styles and incorporate colors and prints whenever they can, just like Mindy!