I had the opportunity to meet Caroline Duncan, the costume designer of Royal Pains while she was working on the now defunct 666 Park Avenue. In a twist of fate more sinister than that of the Drake itself, 666 was cancelled before the show aired in its entirety. Around the same time, I started receiving requests for Royal Pains fashion, which, coincidentally, was designed by Duncan, as well. Were things looking up? I caught my first Royal Pains episode during the Winter wedding special – and I was hooked. Set in the Hamptons, and starring Marc Feuerstein, it was like Revenge, without the murder, lying or bandage dresses!
Before season 5 of Royal Pains premieres tonight on USA, I had a chance to catch up with costume designer Caroline Duncan about what’s in store for our favorite Hamptons fashionistas.
Possessionista: You have two very different female leads. How would you describe Divya and Paige’s style?
Caroline Duncan: Divya’s style is modern, cosmopolitan and polished. She favors fitted linear silhouettes and second-skin dresses in bold colors, accented with imaginative statement jewelry. She’s a really savvy, well-traveled woman who grew up in London and NY but with roots in India — I love to mix Indian inspired accessories and sensational colors on her, but keep her silhouette chic, streamlined and 5th Avenue. She’s a working woman of means, so I find the balance between what a Physician’s Assistant would be comfortable working in, and what her monied and elite clientele would respond to in their concierge doctor’s wardrobe.
Paige’s style is flowery, airy and light. She is a bubbly, spunky and ultra-feminine woman, drawn to flirty silhouettes, sweet patterns, and cheerful colors. This season I’ve loved putting her in fit and flare dresses, or modern re-imaginings of 50’s silhouettes. She loves fabrics that have some interest to them — a shimmer, accordion pleat, boucle, print, etc. Paige’s style is a marriage of the classic French Riviera silhouette and the electric colors and prints that are on trend this summer.
Possessionista: Where do you shop?
CD: Everywhere! Divya’s pieces are from department stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, and Barneys NY, Boutiques like Jeffrey and Intermix, and occasionally J. Crew, BCBG, and Club Monaco. I find a lot of Paige at the department stores, as well as boutiques like Scoop, Opening Ceremony, Steven Alan, Topshop and Zara.
Possessionista: Are there certain brands you gravitate to?
CD: For Divya, we love Narcisco Rodriguez, Fendi, Victoria Beckham, Roland Mouret, DVF, Altuzzara, Jason Wu, Proenza Schouler, Antonio Berardi, and Rory Beca. For Paige we love Valentino, Prada, Ted Baker, Alice and Olivia, Nanette Lepore, Maje, Moschino, Stella McCartney, and Temperley.
Possessionista: What do you look for when shopping for Divya? Paige?
CD: For Divya I look for something classic and polished that I can really pop with an accessory. For Paige I look for flirtatious shapes and colors and push the silhouette.
Possessionista: How does the Hampton’s influence what you’re shopping for?
CD: Our world is all about blue skies and beaches! We chose white as our most visited neutral in Season 1, which is a classic Hamptons and summer staple, and gives us a clean, crisp palette. I really try to avoid dark colors on the girls in their day to day looks, and you’ll almost never catch an extra wearing black or grey. Fashion in the Hamptons is incredibly bright and aspirational and much of it is resort wear, and that has been a huge influence on how I style the actors and how I set the tone of the show. The Hamptons draw in so many flavors of people — moguls, celebrities, bankers, blue bloods — it gives me a huge cross-pollination of color and style to draw from!
Possessionista: During the wedding special we got to see the women dress for winter? Does their style evolve from season to season? How does weather play into how you dress the women of Royal Pains
CD: We are constantly evolving. When we first met Divya she was much more buttoned up; she wore pants suits a lot of the time, was in an arranged marriage, and under the eye of very conservative traditional parents. Her character has learned to let go, and taken control of her life, so her wardrobe has gotten richer in color and more sensual and confident. Paige has always been a fashionista — she studies fashion at Parsons and when we met her she was dictating and overseeing a wardrobe makeover of another character! Her style has remained cutting edge and on trend; she definitely is up on her fashion magazine reading. The wedding episode was the first time we saw our characters in winter wear — normally our season is top to bottom summertime. It was so fun to explore how everyone would bring their aesthetic to the cold!
Possessionista: Tell us a secret about the Royal Pains fashion?
CD: We are not shy of fashion!!! Because our world is elevated and a bit fantasy, I like to heighten a piece that is already a statement unto itself, with accessories and layers that are unexpected. Sometimes an outfit will lack a neutral entirely — if a dress is neon, I would gravitate towards a shoe that’s got even more colors in it over a neutral. We also spend a tremendous amount of time and thought on our extras — they are the secret support system of our show. They have to fit into the world Divya and Paige and the other cast members live in, so we often dress them head to toe.
Possessionista:How has the fashion of Royal Pains changed over the past four season?
CD: It’s followed the trends, and it’s pushed the envelope. I think the color has really exploded in the past two seasons in a fun and visually arresting way.
Possessionista: How much influence do your actors have in their characters’ wardrobes? Is it collaborative?
CD: These characters and the mood of the show are so heightened and polished that they’re pretty far from how the ladies dress in real life. I have an amazing cast to work with, and Reshma (Divya) and Brooke (Paige) both trust me to pull things together for them. It’s always collaborative, and always fun to have a fitting with either girl.
Tune in tonight at 9/8C on USA for the season 5 premiere of Royal Pains