When word broke that Mindy Kaling was named a Glamour 2014 Woman of the Year I know I wasn’t the only person who was excited beyond belief. She’s a boss whose enviable wit rivals her red carpet flare! I mean, it’s not all about the clothes—but you can’t deny that Kaling has serious style chops, right? Which is why we jumped at the chance to get an exclusive sneak peek of the honoree’s red carpet look for tonight’s event, straight from The Mindy Project costume designer, Salvador Perez, and Kaling herself.
Perez and Kaling at the Costume Designers Guild Awards
Glamour: What was the look you were going for, for tonight’s event?
Salvador Perez: Mindy wanted to be chic and elegant. We wanted to go short to make it a little more casual, plus I wanted to show off her legs. Ultimately, she wanted the outfit to make a statement about her love of fashion. I also designed the coat she wears over the dress— a luxurious cashmere coat with crystal buttons. To have a complete outfit designed, for me, is easier than trying to find pieces that work together. We finished the outfit of with jewels from Neil Lane.
Salvador worked with illustrator, Aasha Ramdeen, to sketch his inspiration for the dress.
Glamour: What was the inspiration for the outfit?
SP: 1960s inspired, like an episode of Mad Men. We had done some research as we were going to purchase a dress, but nothing was just right—great neckline, but hated the bottom and so on. So Mindy asked me if I could design something for her. She loves having custom made clothes.
Glamour: Tell me us more about the process.
Kaling during the muslin fitting
SP: We always start with a muslin mock up to make sure the fit and proportions work. Since there is custom beading in this dress, the mock up was very important. Then we found some beautiful beaded chiffon, and I bought Swarovski crystals to match. I asked the beader, Paule Drissi who worked with me on Titanic, to bead the collar and cuffs—it was very decadent. We love the finished product.
Glamour: On an important night like Women of the Year night, what’s a fail-safe look any woman could try?
SP: You always want to keep your look clean and elegant, but you don’t have to do the safe black dress route. Have some fun! Wear something colorful with a hint of sparkle.
Glamour: How involved was Mindy during this process?
SP: Mindy knows fashion very well. We started this outfit six weeks ago— from sketch to swatches of fabric and bead samples, to several fittings to get the outfit just right. Mindy would come in at her lunch break or squeeze in fitting between scenes to make sure we had the outfit perfected.
Glamour: Mindy, what sort of tests have you done to make sure you feel comfy in your Woman of the Year dress. Tell us about them!
Mindy Kaling: When Sal designs for me, he’s very precise, so he does a test of the silhouette in muslin first. It’s a simple white cotton pattern but it gets me so excited about the dress. Since this dress also has elaborate (and delicate!) beadwork, Sal sent me to New York with a needle and color-appropriate thread, so I could quickly mend anything that might come off. Fashion is about self-sufficiency sometimes!
Close-up of the beautiful beading
Glamour: What have you learned about dressing your body through working with Sal and going through this process?
MK: Sal is all about fit. It doesn’t matter how expensive or high end something is, it needs to fit perfectly.
Glamour: What would Danny Castellano think of your Woman of the Year dress?
MK: I think Danny would love the dress because it’s classic ’60s glamour. He would also love that it isn’t skin-tight or show a lot of cleavage. He is pretty old fashioned.