Tuesday, August 11, 2009

LITERARY FASHION: A LOOK AT MADMEN AND WOMEN

Season 3 dresses by designer Janie Bryant
January Jones in one of Janie Bryant's creations

Partial cast of Madmen

Earlier this year my husband and I were in Southern California for a photo shoot. Wandering around Century City shops on a sunny afternoon, we stumbled into a store featuring furnishings straight out of the 1960s. When I commented to the owner her merchandise looked just like the sets on Madmen she answered, "These are the sets they use on Madmen. . ."
I should have known before I even asked. My passion for Jackie Kennedyesque fashion along with an appreciation for top notch storytelling has kept me pasted to the TV every Sunday night since Madmen's inception back in 2007. Not taken with the bulk of what contemporary television offers outside PBS and Sex and the City, Madmen is the exception. What intrigues me most about this nominated for 16 Emmies series? Other than the impeccable sets and costume perhaps its the flawed and sometimes twisted characters I've come to love. And nobody's selling me morality or role models on this tune-in-after-10PM-time-slot. In fact, for me the storyline is kind of wonky and sometimes has no arc at all; but that's okay. Loose ends that tie up so predictably in most hour long shows are here often left alone, even unsettled at season's end. Maybe Madmen has real meat on its bones because by today's standards its not politically correct; it tells life the way it was back then: men ordering up and expecting Sanka served by secretaries and wives--most of whom work the subservient role to their advantage. In other words, like its anti-hero Don Draper, Madmen doesn't apologize for being all we broke away from and evolved into since the 60s.
A lot of this episodic story is told through costuming. Til Madmen I hadn't realized how much we of the Millennium hungered for that new hero even if he comes to us in vintage form as a man in gray flannel. Madmen's creator, Matthew Weiner has taken us beyond the Ayn Rand/Film Noir arch-types with Don Draper, a perfect frame for all the plumed and colorful women populating the series. Whether its Joan in one of her jewel toned sheaths or Betty Draper sporting a poufy-skirted hourglass, we're in love with the basic shapes and silhouettes of this era. Designer Janie Bryant has done a marvelous job creating 'the look' for this series. Her expertise and skill reaches into the uses of texture and fiber of the times--one important element in getting the look truly authentic. Season 3 premieres August 16 on AMC. God knows I'm waiting for a wedding to happen on this series. While the glimpses we have of Betty Draper's evening get-ups do enchant, I really want to see what Janie has up her sleeve once somebody finally says, "I do".

3 comments:

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K @ Blog Goggles said...

I love that show - especially their outfits! I'm so jealous you got to see the set!

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