Mad Men’s Janie Bryant talks frocks

Mad Men: Icons of Style exhibition

If there’s one thing Miss Prescott is rather fond of aside from eating Maltesers in a darkened cinema with a stiff martini in hand, it’s a quiet night in with Don Draper. Alas, thus far it has only been through the medium of television. But as of next week, at least his costumes from Mad Men will be in the country, in three concurrent exhibitions in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane (see below for details).

The series’ costume designer, Janie Bryant—who has curated the exhibitions—very kindly agreed to a quick Q&A with Miss Prescott before the exhibition opens.

Here’s what she had to say in our little online chinwag…

The name’s Don. Don Draper.

Miss Prescott: When you first started working on the show, did you have any inkling that it would be the huge success it has become?
Janie Bryant: I had no idea! It makes for a fun atmosphere knowing that so many people—cast, crew, and audience alike—are all so invested in this show.

MP: Every design aspect of the series is so well researched, from office and home interiors to every aspect of the costumes. What additional research do you do to really nail the details?
JB: I use inspiration from 1960s resources like newspapers, magazines, photo galleries, and personal archives of my parents’ and grandparent’s clothing.

MP: Which is your favourite character to outfit for the show and why? 
JB: My favourite character to dress changes day by day, depending on the script. I enjoy working with all of the characters—there is such a variety and it makes for an exciting assortment of characters and looks.

MP: Are most of the costumes created from scratch—and if so, from patterns from the period or by recreating vintage items?
JB: Costumes for the show are created in a variety of ways. Some of the costumes are made from scratch, some are rented, and some are created from older vintage pieces that are used for patterns or rebuilt for our purposes.

Joan always understood the seductive appeal of the pen pendant.

MP: You’ve just launched a collection in the US for Banana Republic—how did that come about and was it a satisfying change for you from costuming?
JB: Yes, it was a fun project to work on while Mad Men was on hiatus, although I was still working in my 1960s mindset! How it came about is really a natural progression for Banana Republic and Mad Men. Banana Republic has been involved in the Mad Men casting calls for years now. I am close with Banana Republic’s Creative Director, Simon Kneen, and we finally made that jump together to create a Banana Republic +Mad Men Collection. Simon and I have a shared love for clothing from the 1960s, making a modern collection of luxurious and accessible clothing inspired from the show a clear choice for us to create.

MP: I understand that the series is continuing for a number of seasons yet. Do you know how far forward it will be going in terms of timelines, and what challenges do you anticipate in updating the costumes for the characters?
JB: I don’t know how far into the future Mad Men will project, but wouldn’t it be fun to have the characters live in the 1970s? Talk about groovy!

Icons of Style: An Exhibition of Mad Men Costumes 
Chatswood Chase, Sydney & QueensPlaza, Brisbane:
5 September–2 October
Chadstone, Melbourne: 8 September–2 October

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  1. […] been an interesting development since my post about the Mad Men costume exhibition last week and my interview with costume designer Janie […]



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