Daniel Lawson Interview: ‘The Good Fight’ costume designer
Outside of “The Good Wife” pilot, Daniel Lawson oversaw the fashionable fashions on all seven seasons of the legal drama, transforming boring office-wear into aspirational, sophisticated and feminine power suits. So when its spin-off “The Good Fight” was picked up to series, the two-time Emmy nominee wanted to raise the bar even more.
“I think we definitely upped the ante,” Lawson said at Gold Derby’s Meet the Experts: Costume Designers panel, moderated by this author (watch above). “With the first episode of ‘The Good Fight,’ we knew people would tune in looking for ‘The Good Wife’ because that was the mothership, but by the end of [the pilot], we knew it needed to [be] its own show, its own feeling, otherwise people wouldn’t continue to tune in because it was too similar. … I felt like I went in and wanted to do more.”
For Lawson, it’s imperative to tell the story and his characters’ feelings through the clothes. On “The Good Wife,” Diane (Christine Baranski) primarily wore striking solids from head to toe, exemplifying her successful career and top rank at her firm. But after she loses her money in a Ponzi scheme in a post-Trump world, it’s a very different look on “The Good Fight.” “Once we got to ‘The Good Fight,’ her character really goes on a roller-coaster ride and we were really able to adjust her wardrobe from episode to episode and season to season, which is really fun,” Lawson says.
In Season 2, as Diane’s still wrapping her head around Trump, as lawyers are getting murdered around her, and as she starts micro-dosing, her wardrobe reflected that anarchy — fabulously, of course. Lawson found inspiration in the Eternal City and introduced more patterns and colors into Diane’s closet.
“She’s taken on this whole ‘what the heck?’ attitude. She uses the F-word because we’re [streaming] now, we can do it. It’s a ‘what the heck?’ attitude with her clothing,” he said. “And so I got really inspired by Roman women and how they’re so chic and elegant, and they take these different pieces that you wouldn’t think would go together and then they throw them on and suddenly they look fabulous and sort of unencumbered and unintentional.”
When it came to the Trump of it all, Lawson wanted to “armor” Diane. “We brought in a lot of metallic and pairing lots of texture and colors and patterns that wouldn’t normally go together,” he said. “And we sort of wrapped that together to create this armored look for her.”
Just like on the original series, Lawson says his ultimate goal is to “empower my actresses” — and he loves that “The Good Fight” features five series regular actresses, two more than “The Good Wife.” “They are strong women and I thought, ‘Why have women dressed masculinely when I have these very strong women?’” he said. “I want to celebrate their femininity and their strength, so we really brought that into their looks.”