Anna Lisa Raya is the editor of Awardsline
For Emmy-nominated Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant, the opportunities to help forward a character’s arc through wardrobe are ripe. While the beloved AMC series has only spanned 1960 to ’69 in its seven seasons, the passage of time seen through the clothes the characters have worn has been dramatic. This last season alone introduced Pucci prints, hippie ponchos, maxi dresses and paisley ties as stark counterpoints to the earlier pencil skirts and slim men’s suits.
Well, some looks have evolved more than others. “One of the themes of Mad Men is that change takes time,” Bryant says. “I really love that idea to be reflected in the costume design with the principal cast. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) can change a little bit, but it’s not like he’s going to change that much.”
By contrast, Megan Draper, portrayed by Jessica Paré, has gone from being Don’s secretary to wife, and moving from New York to California. “She’s had a lot of costume design changes,” Bryant says. “She’s a character who can be fashion-forward.” Because of this, Bryant refers to period copies of fashion magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar for inspiration. For a majority of the rest of the cast, ideas instead are born out of paging through vintage catalogs from Sears, J.C. Penney and Spiegel or watching films of the era.
Bryant had about five weeks to prep for the first half of Season 7, including initial, three-hour fittings with the principal cast, for whom Bryant and her team build a majority of the clothes. On average, there are 75 costume changes per episode for the principals, day players and guest actors and about 200 additional costumes for background actors. “I’m lucky to work with a cast who really loves their costumes. It’s part of their job,” she says.