All novelas have an antagonist. But maybe with the exception of Catalina Creel in Cuna de Lobos, no baddie had as iconic a style as Paola Bracho – played by Venezuelan actress Gabriela Spanic – in the 1998 Televisa novela La Usurpadora.
A bit of back story: Paola started as the vain wife of Carlos Daniel Bracho, who, once she became bored with her fabulous life, decided to leave on a one-year vacation with one of her lovers. She found the perfect replacement in her long lost twin sister, Paulina, who took over for her. (Spanic played both roles, even though she’s an actual twin.) Paulina eventually gains the love of Carlos Daniel and, spoiler alert, permanently becomes the real Mrs. Bracho.
And while La Usurpadora is far from perfect (lack of diversity, classism, and ableist tropes to name a few), the Latinernet has revived the character – who was at times wicked and other times compassionate – with endless memes celebrating Paola for her witty comebacks and enviable closet. The iconic outfits – which are as fashionable then as they are now – are the work of Martha Leticia Rivera (Amar otra vez and Palabra de mujer) and Francisco Javier Pacheco (Rubí and Bajo la misma piel). Through color palette, silhouettes, and accessories, Rivera and Pacheco revealed aspects of Paola’s personality. And even though Paulina was sweeter, the two women shared a closet, so we got a double dose of iconic style.
From long, fitted red dresses to pearl-encrusted statement earrings, Paola’s outfits likely inspired villains to come. And now, they can inspire you in real life, too.
Take trip to 1998 with the Paolas’ best looks.
Her black teddy and robe combo
Paola was a sexually empowered woman, and in this scene, she comes to claim the kisses her husband, Carlos Daniel, owes her. Dressed in a black lingerie set, red lipstick, and, of course, gold accessories, she tries to seduce her husband.
The matching red dress and lipstick
While black dresses never go out of style, this scene is proof that a red dress is a wise investment.
Her iconic flower dresses
When Paola found Paulina, she wore one of her most memorable looks – a long tank-top style dress adorned with big flowers. Throughout the series, both women wore florals.
This lounging in Hawaii bathing suit
Once again, Paola opts for florals. This time in Hawaii, where she’s just trying to make the most of her year-long vacation from life.
The comeback dress
Thanks to Paulina, Paola made the most of her time away from home. But after an accident, Paola was forced to return to Mexico, where she learns she’ll never walk again. The novela, unfortunately, doesn’t handle disability well and she is miraculously cured. But the form-fitting red dress, which features a side slit and cable ties along the front, is one of her most iconic looks.
The wedding dress
So Paola dies. This makes it so that Paulina and Carlos Daniel can freely marry. They celebrate a big wedding in the final episode, where Paulina wears a princess-like dress and a big headband-like tiara with a layered, mid-length veil.
The red coat
While Paola Bracho wore mostly tank top-style long dresses, her twin sister opted for a red coat and matching hat to impersonate Paola.
The not-so-casual white lounge dress
Paola Bracho often pulled her best outfits just to walk around the Bracho house, which is very Latino actually if you think about what your family get togethers look like come Thanksgiving. For some couch time, she opts for a white, spaghetti strap dress that she accessorizes with a brooch.
The "I'm back" dress
Paola makes her return to the Bracho dress in a floor-length floral dress. It might be an unexpected pick, but that’s what makes Paola’s style so amazing.