Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Tour of the Mad Men Costume Shop!


In celebration of the return of Mad Men tonight, I thought I'd post this awesome video. It's a tour of the Mad Men costume shop with designer Janie Bryant.

This is a great look at the designer's perspective on the period, especially when she said this was a time when "people weren't afraid to dress." I love that idea! It seems maybe we do have a fear of dressing today, maybe due to our uber-casual era that we talked about in this post. I think it also directly relates to some of the excellent points brought up in the feminism comment thread: perhaps this was a period of greater respect for our bodies and our appearances.

Some other great moments include Bryant showing off a gorgeous green and blue printed chiffon dress, a fabric that she notes as being "so popular for this period." She also mentions a donation that they received of loads of vintage fabric and patterns.

I also loved the peek into the tailor's shop, where the cutter is constructing a beautiful green dress. I wonder if it's for Joan!

Bryant hints at the costumes for the upcoming season, which is set in 1963, with lots of "dramatic shapes and colors."

Squeee! Will you be watching tonight?

13 comments:

  1. I wish I had cable, but I will have the Season 2 DVD's to while away the time even though I already know what happened that season. Have fun!

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  2. I am SO EXCITED for the show tonight! Squee!

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  3. I haven't been watching this show, but based on your recommendation and another persons, I'm going to start catching up on DVD and then watch this season -- please be kind to us Mad Men newbies and don't reveal any plot points without a spoiler alert! =)

    Also, "not afraid to dress" AWESOME saying. I want that to be my motto! When I start my sewing blog (when I finally clear my big obligation off my plate) that's what I'm going to call it.

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  4. I've been dying for season 3 to start, I love Mad Men. My favorite character wardrobe-wise is Betty Draper. She always gets to wear the prettiest dresses. I can't wait to see what's going to happen this season.

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  5. As someone, ahem, who lived through that era (not as an adult, but I was a great observer of adults in my teen years), the phrase 'not afraid to dress' is nice, but not really operational with regard to the period. It's not as if anyone had a choice about what they wore to work - there were "uniforms" for different levels of work, different positions within a particular workplace and there were unspoken rules - no pants for women, no matter what. Remember - this is the era when everyone going to the 'house of religious worship' of their choice was wearing their best - and hats, and gloves, etc. Even little boys and girls. The workplace was even more set in stone in terms of clothing. When I worked for a large insurance company in NYC in the 1970s, there was some wearing of pants - in the secretarial pool - but no one else. The sales and marketing people wore their best - the men were wearing very expensive suits and their initials were embroidered either on their shirt pockets or on the cuffs of their shirts. The really subtle and elegant guys got their embroidery done in a shade of thread that just matched or was just colored enough (very pale blue, very pale grey) so that the observer could see that SOMETHING had been embroidered on the shirt, which was always white. The women on the sales staff many times had their suits actually made for them since at that time there were no women's business clothes made that were the parallel quality of what the successful men were buying and wearing. The whole concept of 'business casual' did not take hold until the early 1990s - and that was a PR campaign put on by Levi Strauss' Dockers line - and was meant to be a way for companies to give an employee benefit which did not cost them anything (cost the workers plenty, because they had to go out and buy a specific outfit that fit the 'business casual' mold - and Dockers was hoping the men would buy their product. "Mad Men" is dealing with a snapshot in time - when people were very much aware of sending messages with their clothing and were attempting to look as good as they possibly could within the economic and job status that they had.

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  6. Interesting points, Toby. I think if we look at it from the perspective of the person who said it in this video--the costume designer--it makes a certain amount of sense. She was specifically referring to a men's pastel plaid jacket, an item that many men today would actually be afraid of! And even though there were very strict standards of what was appropriate in any given environment and time of day, there must have been an element of personal choice too. Though they couldn't wear pants, Joan was certainly free to wear a red sheath dress, while Peggy could wear one of her plaid numbers. That's what makes the design of this show so intriguing. Bryant has to work within a very specific dress framework, but can use specific choices to convey character.

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  7. Thanks Gertie, I just wish they had shown us more of the dresses, off the rack. You know I think there's a whole show here, vintage dressing, dress making and then the wearing. Wouldn't you love to be involved in a show like that? boy i would.

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  8. I loved this little peek into the costume department; I always geek out over things like this! ;) I definitely watched the first episode of season 3 last night; I even got my husband (who hasn't watched seasons 1 or 2) into it. lol. I'm already dying to see what more gorgeous clothes will show up as the season progresses!

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  9. Boy, I wish I had cable too! Sigh. will have to catch this show via Netflix. That green dress on the cutting table was sweet. I remember my mom having a similar dress in the early 60's!

    And I remember wearing little white gloves and carrying a little white wicker purse to church in the early 60's...wonder where those are now?

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  10. That was kewl...thanks for sharing it!

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  11. Great little video - love the tailor's room too!

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  12. I remember my mother dressing in the most beautiful dresses, hats and gloves and thinking how I could hardly wait to do that myself! Alas, my coming-of age came during the " let-it-all-hang-out" sixties so I never had the chance. It is so great to see the enthusiasm "Mad Men" has inspired for lovely, properly fitted body-conscious ladylike fashion. I have worn lovely 1950's costumes made from reissued vintage patterns. A word of warning--proper tailoring technique is a must to get the look to work.

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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