It’s the end of an era.
The final 47 minutes of Mad Men has aired and we’ve said our goodbyes to Don, Peggy, Joan, Roger, and Pete. Critics are busy summing up the impact the show’s writing and acting has had and will have our culture. Its costuming left its mark, too.
Under the watchful eye of costume designer Janie Bryant, the actors and actresses on Mad Men—from the main cast to hundreds of extras—exuded ’60s and ’70s sex appeal. Bryant curated between 76 and 96 costumes per episode, and that doesn’t even include the 300 costumes on average she’d have to come up with for the background cast (again, per episode). “That’s part of the joy and the challenge of designing a period show,” she says. “Everybody has to be in period-correct costumes head to toe.”
Bryant, who is currently working on her second collection for Shoes of Prey and a new collection for Black Halo in addition to acting as Brand Ambassador for Hartmann luggage, took time out of her packed schedule to list her seven favorite looks from across all seven seasons.
Joan’s Date Dress
“I designed that dress for her, for that scene, and I love it on her. When I talked to [show creator and writer] Matt Weiner about that scene, he wanted her to be in something classic, not something that was high fashion. It had to feel like old-fashioned, L.A. Joan. Throughout the show there has been this theme of Joan really loving Asian artwork, artifacts, jewelry, and clothing. When I was designing the dress, I really wanted to incorporate those elements of Joan, so I used the tiniest brocade, and the embellished neckline has that Mandarin collar kind of design. All of those elements really speak to the classic bombshell that she is.”
Don’s Light Blue Sport Coat
Season 2, Season 3
“I love menswear so much. One piece that I truly love of Don’s is his light blue raw silk sport coat that I designed, which he wears when he goes to California and then again with Betty in Italy. When we first see Don in California, he’s a different man. That pale blue, almost like a gray blue, is a color we’ve never seen him in before. When you see him for the first time on the screen, it’s a jaw-dropping moment of the gorgeousness of this man. It’s about expressing the fact that Don Draper in California seems like a totally different man than Don Draper in New York City.”
Betty’s Derby Day Dress
“I have so many favorites for Betty, but one of my all time favorites is the white lace and pink dress that she wears on Derby Day when she’s pregnant and meets Henry for the first time. When Matt [Weiner] and I were discussing the scene, he said, ‘I know she’s pregnant, but I really want it to seem very romantic.’ So when I got down to designing it for Betty in her color palette, it was about her being this eternal bride. Pink is a very romantic color, and lace is a bridal fabric. Even though she was seven months pregnant, it was very romantic: It has the ruffled lace collar, ruffles at the sleeve, a pink belt underbust, this really beautiful vintage pin, and then the lining was this very soft pink as well. I had to have those elements of romance, love, and also innocence.”
Betty’s “I’m Back” Dress
“I also love the pale yellow chiffon gown that Betty wore last season when she loses all the weight. It’s her breakout moment, like, ‘Oh my God, Betty’s back.’ If you notice, she’s surrounded by dark, dark wood paneling in that scene, and the reveal—she is a beacon of shining light. A pale yellow ray of sunshine. The hair, the makeup, the gown, the gloves—the whole glamor of it is amazing.”
Peggy’s Houndstooth Pantsuit
“I love that black and white and red-orange houndstooth pantsuit. And I love that moment for all the things that pantsuit says about Peggy and how far she’s come. It’s about feeling like she really fits into this boy’s club, what with all of the challenges of the sexism of the period. In that moment, she’s in Don’s old office, and she’s wearing pants. It’s not that she’s trying to be a man; it’s more like Peggy has arrived. That houndstooth is also the signature colors of Mad Men: black, red, and white. I love that back story element.”
Megan’s ANDY Awards Gown
“I love the gown that I designed for her when she goes to the ANDY awards with Don and they run into Sylvia and the doctor in the lobby. For that whole scene, you can see the contrast between Megan and Sylvia, Megan being movie star-glamorous, and Sylvia being older and classic. The way that Don chooses women is always so fascinating. He’s never interested in the girl you think he should be with.”
Sally’s Go-Go Dress
“I love that lame mini dress with the white go-go boots because it’s the moment in which we see Sally growing up. We see the influence that Megan has had on her. It’s such a coming of age kind of moment.”