'Inventing Anna' Costume Designer on Transforming Julia Garner Into Anna Delvey (Exclusive)

Lyn Paolo talks to ET about all the designer outfits sourced for the series and bringing Delvey's lavish looks to life onscreen.

One thing elevating Shonda Rhimes’ limited Netflix series about Anna Delvey above the typical true-crime drama is the designer fashions the characters wear onscreen. Like Gossip Girl, which Delvey watched to learn English, and The Devil Wears Prada, directed by David Frankel, who helms two of the series’ episodes, Inventing Anna is as much about the fashion as it is about a young woman who pretended to be a German heiress to con her way through the rich and elite of New York City.  

While speaking to ET, costume designer Lyn Paolo reveals the great lengths the craft team went to recreating Delvey’s outfits worn by Julia Garner and which unexpected character had the most expensive wardrobe. Thanks to Rhimes, Paolo and her co-costume designer, Laura Frecon, were able to “play in the giant giant world of fashion” after the series creator told them to have fun. “And we did,” she says.

When it specifically comes to Garner’s wardrobe as Delvey, who famously documented her designer looks during trial on Instagram, it took about three months to source all of her costumes. “We took a huge, really big deep dive into all things Anna,” Paolo says, explaining that she and Frecon “became detectives” as they dug into Delvey’s lavish lifestyle, first starting with Jessica Pressler’s 2018 New York magazine article and then Instagram.


“We went down the same wormhole as Anna Chlumsky’s character did on the show,” Paolo adds, referring to Vivian Kent, who is a version of Pressler seen onscreen investigating Delvey’s story for Manhattan magazine.

In the end, they found 80 to 85 percent of what Delvey wore. “We just had racks and racks and racks of unbelievable clothes,” she says of the outfits they sourced from Los Angeles, New York and London or whichever department store had the brands, like Celine, they were looking for. 

Whatever they couldn’t find, they recreated. And that only turned out to be a few specific items, like a Rick Owens jacket “that we just couldn’t find anywhere,” the designer says.    

“I don’t think any show I’ve done -- even Scandal -- I have gone through that volume of couture clothing,” Paolo says, explaining that because Garner is practically in every scene, “the amount of costumes that went through our shop every week was quite significant.” 


The costume designer also praises Garner for being such a trouper. “We dressed her head to toe for every Instagram shot, every court scene,” she says, noting the detail that went into every outfit seen onscreen.  

Despite the amount of time Garner and the team spent in the fitting room, Paolo says there were plenty of laughs, in large part, thanks to the actress’ intricate accent she perfected as Delvey. “We all tried to mimic her and we couldn’t do it… We just had a blast.” 

The designer also notes that since Garner was coming off filming Ozark, which is a very different look and style from Inventing Anna, that she “reveled in the fashion.” 

While speaking to ET, Garner echoed that sentiment. “It was a really nice breath of fresh air after Ruth. As much as I love Ozark and Ruth, the clothes on Delvey are next level,” she said, adding that the black baby doll Alaia dress she wears with Celine glasses “felt the most Anna Delvey.”

“Julia can wear almost anything,” Paolo says, revealing that she thinks Garner should play a 1930s movie star. 


Funnily enough, despite all of the clothing sourced for Garner -- including the number of Dolce & Gabbana combinations of coats, dresses with matching shoes and purses -- it was Kate Burton’s character, Nora, an Upper East Side woman who falls prey to Delvey’s manipulation, that had the most expensive outfits. “Kate has the most, in terms of super high-end couture,” Paolo says. 

But if Paolo has a favorite outfit seen on Inventing Anna, it’s the Dolce & Gabbana leopard a-line mini dress with the matching coat and matching shoes Garner wears with big sunglasses. “That was just amazing.”

Inventing Anna is now streaming on Netflix.