Monday, August 3, 2009

Mad Men Style

Maybe it's the constant reference points of my childhood where the Bonanza theme song meant Sunday night, a tv dinner was an exotic treat and people actually dressed up to board a plane. Or the Kodak snapshot of Manhattan and Madison Avenue in the sixties, a time where chauvanism (not that I am a proponent but fascinating to watch) and highballs at the office ran supreme and the Surgeon General was clueless on the hazards of smoking. Or the fabulous vintage clothes I would like to have in my closet and the impossibly sexy Jon Hamm as the show's protagonist Don Draper. Whatever it is, I am mad for Mad Men.

The women: A contrast of styles and figures

Thankfully Mad Men begins its third season on AMC Sunday, August l6th and if you have been living in a cave, I urge you to rent season one and two. Besides the backstabbing, office politics, sexual inuendo, sexism from the hallowed halls of Sterling Cooper and a great view of the creative process circa de sixties, Mad Men has some of the greatest fashions on television, past or present.

Costume designer Janie Bryant conducted extensive research for the show's wardrobe which plays an integral part of setting the mood as well as establishing the characters. Ad and ladies man Don Draper with his Brylcreemed hair, five o'clock shadow, charcoal tailored suits and two-inch skinny ties is classic Madison Avenue executive. It is said that Michael Kors was so influenced by the styles that he based his 2008 menswear collection on the show.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper

January Jones as Betty "Birdie" Draper

As the beleaguered wife of Don Draper, Betty is the show's central fashionista. Bryant dressed her with very tailored period appropriate touches of Jackie Kennedy and an obvious nod to Grace Kelly. Her clothes range from suburban cashmere to taffeta ballgowns and everything in between.

Bryant was influenced by Marilyn Monroe with this pink silk taffeta halter number -- shades of Marilyn in Some Like it Hot.

3/4 Gloves were another popular accessory....even for daytime

Joan (Christina Hendricks) , the office bombshell, is an interesting symbol of the times with her zaftig figure and form fitting clothes. Reminiscent of a red-haired Marilyn Monroe, Joan's character as a full size figure would clearly be considered a heavy-set "before" image in a Weight Watchers ad today. Bryant dresses her "as a character who works everything she has."

Feather hats....

Brightly colored satin swingcoats....

and the hat and trenchcoat in menswear are remnants of an era gone by.

From the opening credits and alarming images (think North by Northwest meets Vertigo), you will be hooked. And if you're still not convinced, Mad Men received 16 Emmy nominations including one for Outstanding Drama. Enough said.

Photo Credits: AMC

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