Deadline contributor Elizabeth Snead files this Emmy report:
Costume designer Janie Bryant, who won an Emmy for her work on “Deadwood” in 2005, is nominated for Outstanding Costumes In A Series for the Mad Men episode “The Beautiful Girls” this time around. The nod preceded the release this month of the collaboration between Banana Republic and Bryant to release the first ever Mad Men-inspired affordable fashion collection to the public. Bryant designed that for fans. But for Emmys, she chose this episode because the clothes provide clues about the increasing turbulence in the female characters’ lives — an increasingly rebellious Sally to a softening Dr. Faye, from make-it-in-a-man’s-world Peggy to a still sexy but decidedly more staid Joan. “So many different women,” Bryant says. “That to me is Season Four.”
Young Sally, who is maturing into an independent teenager, is seen wearing a very fashionable bright floral short sheath reminiscent of early Lily Pulitzer. “It’s a summertime shift, so classic and so mid-1960s, East Coast.” Bryant also loves the scene where secretary Megan hugs and comforts Sally during her tantrum in Don Draper’s office. Megan’s canary yellow dress is “welcoming and cheery,” signifying her nurturing nature. Bryant also added what she calls “mod details” like a white border on the bottom and a button on the shoulder to show that Megan is more fashion conscious than the other secretaries.
Bryant also loves the symbolism that Sally and her domineering ice queen mother Betty both wear florals when Don hands Sally back to Betty’s steely grip. “I do love Betty’s dress and her little wrist white gloves. I found that light blue purse for her and wanted to use light blue shoes. We had a pair in her closet that I had been waiting to use all season.” Interestingly, the flowers on Betty’s dress are rigid and austere whereas Sally’s flowers show warmth and youthfulness. Was Betty once like Sally? Will Sally end up like Betty? Thanks to Bryant’s subtle touches, the floral print dresses in this episode seem to ask those deeper questions.
Similarly, Peggy, Dr. Faye, and Joan are shown standing together in the elevator, but not a word is spoken. Instead, their clothes speak volumes about their shared confusion over the direction of their lives at this point. All three women are wearing reworked pieces from that time period. Joan is in a demure plum floral fitted dress with a coordinating scarf knotted on her purse. Peggy wears a polite green plaid short-sleeved frock with white gloves, a white hat, and pearls of course. Dr. Faye is still restricted in a yellow and white striped bowed blouse and a navy linen suit. “Matt and I had talked about that final scene in the elevator. He said, ‘Janie, you know what to do. We have to see how different all these women are.’ And I think we were successful. You see different silhouettes, color schemes, textures — how each character is so different to illustrate women’s roles at that time.”