There is a term in art called “hiding the brushstrokes,” it’s where an artist does such an incredible job with a painting that you cannot even see where one brushstroke begins and another ends. The result is the work has an air of utter flawlessness. This is how I think about Jolie Andreatta, the incredibly talented Hollywood costume designer who has dressed the cast of USA’s Suits and Pearson, among other notable television credits. Yes, this means she has worked with the likes of Gina Torres (Jessica Pearson) and Meghan Markle (Rachel Zane).
Jolie’s exquisite work on Suits made Jilene and I fall in love with a legal show we would not typically watch. Of course, now we are huge fans of Pearson too. As a stylist though, I’ve always been intrigued by the story behind the costume design process on a television show. So, we decided to talk to Jolie about how it all works, how she got her start in the industry and everything in between. Here we go!
The Storied Life: Let’s start at the beginning, how did you arrive at being a costume designer?
Jolie Andreatta: I was raised in Santa Barbara then Big Sur where I went to a one-room school, the 35 or so kids I grew up with are still to this day my best friends. One of those kids Josh Bliebtreu became a Cinematographer and introduced me to the business.
TSL: That’s amazing about your friend Josh, you just never know where opportunity will come from. It’s truly amazing how things worked out for you to pursue work you are so gifted in. Were there any big hurdles or learning curves you had to overcome to pursue this work?
JA: The only big hurdle that I faced was getting work. With no credits to your name it’s hard to get your foot in the door, but with luck and a prayer I did, and here I am. As far as learning goes each job has new horizons to push and people learn from. That keeps it exciting!
TSL: Definitely, it can be hard just getting a chance to prove what you can do to build a body of work that people will respect. You’ve done this so incredibly well and have really established yourself as someone whose work is easily recognizable.
Your impeccable costuming work on Suits has become iconic. In fact, this past September saw the close of the Paley Center’s Suits Farewell Exhibit you curated. What did it mean to see your work on Suits honored in this way?
JA: Suits has been one of the greatest jobs/joys of my career. I have been blessed with so many moments of gratitude and honor from the cast, producers and the studio, so the Paley Center wasn’t the cake or icing but definitely the cherry on top.
TSL: Yes, it’s amazing when the career you have is the real gift and anything else … praise, awards, and accolades just become the cherry on top, a nice extra!
As I’m sure you know, we were huge fans of Meghan Markle’s former lifestyle blog The Tig. On The Tig, Meghan shared how much working with you on Suits, to build Rachel Zane’s style, elevated her own wardrobe. What was it like working with Meghan and do you ever take the opportunity to help actors with their personal style?
JA: When Meghan Markle interviewed me for “The Tig” it really touched me. She truly gave me credit for my work/style. We laugh and had many aha moments. I loved dressing her. I’ve dressed all the cast for personal events. But their everyday style is all their own. And the SUITS cast does a pretty good job on their own. Have you seen Gabriel Macht’s Instagram!?
TSL: Oh yes, we’ve seen Gabriel’s Instagram–he’s as dapper as they come!
What was the conversation like with Gina Torres about coming on to do the costuming for Pearson?
JA: Gina and I are very close, so our conversation about the new show was filled with excitement. We knew the storyline called for toning things down a bit, but we still wanted all her best friends (Dior, Balenciaga, Tom Ford, Givenchy, The Row, Chanel, Max Mara ….) to come with us.
TSL: Love all of those friends. In fact, Max Mara is one of our featured brands! The quiet elegance in the construction and tailoring of their clothing is just beyond.
As a stylist myself, I’m really curious about the costume design process for a television show like Pearson or Suits. Can you tell us how that works?
JA: I break down the script using a cross plot. It’s like having an aerial view of what scenes the costume will be in and with who. This way you can make sure the look is right for every scene and looks good with what is being worn by others. I like using an editorial approach to create a flow for the character and the story of the script.
TSL: I totally understand what you mean about using an editorial approach, in the way that a magazine would approach building a look for a shoot; it’s about creating a composition.
You have an amazing eye for detail. It always seems that every character’s clothing compliments each other and really makes the scene or shot harmonious. This leads to our next question. In building each character’s wardrobe, it seems like you have to collaborate with a lot of people (e.g. actors, producers, directors, etc), is it difficult to balance that many opinions to get the work done?
JA: Sometimes there are opposing ideas that need to be worked out, but once you put all the ideas into the mix, the strongest and best looks usually prevail.
TSL: The evolving concept of the “New Working Woman,” has been a recurring theme on the runways, especially this past fashion month. Your body of work on television seems to focus on women at work. Does the runway and current trends in fashion ever influence your process when dressing characters for television?
JA: There’s a lot of fashion I wouldn’t or couldn’t use but still can have an influence. I started reading my mom’s Vogue magazines when I was 9 years old. Whether in the daydreams of a little girl or real life, fashion can be captivating. When I first started Suits, I knew this was a show I could get on the pages of Vogue, from the screen.
TSL: We noticed Morgan Spector who plays Bobby Novak, the Chicago Mayor on Pearson, looks a lot like former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Did you pull any inspiration from Rahm to build Bobby’s wardrobe?
JA: I didn’t use Rahm Emanuel as a reference, but so glad I came close to the real thing with Morgan Spector’s character Bobby Novak.
TSL: Speaking of politics and fashion. With so many female candidates running for President, any thoughts on what the women have been wearing or what you would like to see?
JA: I’m not a fan of the short sleeve dresses I’ve been seeing a lot of, a 3/4 sleeve is elegant and less distracting. I would like to see more beautiful suiting, white dress shirts balanced with the right jewelry for the person and or occasion. And great tailoring.
TSL: We completely agree, it will really be amazing to see some of the female candidates embrace a bit more femininity as the election approaches. Both Jilene and I feel like they all need to channel Jessica Pearson. And see, that’s one of the things that we love most about your work Jolie. You always make your women (especially Jessica!) look strong, intelligent, and capable, yet unabashedly feminine.
Speaking of women in power, Isabel Arraiza who plays Yoli Castillo, Jessica’s assistant, mentioned in an interview on BUILD that you also work with first ladies and heads of state, how do you balance that with your work on Pearson?
JA: I love Isabel Arraiza and hope to work with her again. I’ve not worked in politics but have dressed an ambassador’s wife, lawyers, and producers. The looks most women want is Jessica Person’s, and since most shopping is online now, it’s easier to collect and set things aside for different projects/individuals.
TSL: Sadly, it seems that season 2 of Pearson has been canceled. What’s next for you, any upcoming projects or shows we should look out for?
JA: I’m taking time off, but will dive back in soon. I’m looking forward to a new adventure and will keep you posted via Instagram.
TSL: Well it’s a much-deserved break, Jolie! We’re excited to see your work on screen again soon. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us.
If you haven’t seen Pearson, you can catch Season 1 on Amazon Prime and Suits on Netflix.
Photo/Video Credit: USA Network, AOL Build.