Janie Bryant on the Secret to Peggy's Killer Look on Last Night's Mad Men
Last night's episode of Mad Men packed a particular punch for fans who have been watching the show from the beginning. Without spoiling it completely, both Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) take on the sexist nature of their working environment in different ways—and both women's main scenes gave die-hard lovers of the show some seriously hair-raising moments.
The feminist spirit of the show comes to a head when Peggy rounds the corner of her new office digs, decked out in a plaid blouse, high-waisted navy skirt with bright yellow buttons, and classic clubmaster sunglasses, with a cigarette casually hanging from her mouth. She walks powerfully through the halls, her look giving off the distinct vibe that she has run out of cares to give.
Well, we had the chance to chat with Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant, who gleefully shared with us the creation story of that specific look.
"Oh man, my Twitter was blowing up!" Bryant squealed. "People were so excited about that look. And I have to say, it was even cooler than I ever could have imagined. Everything put together, it just created this amazing moment. It was just amazing."
"That costume is actually a vintage dress that I redesigned. I basically cut that whole thing apart, and I redesigned the skirt and did the yellow buttons on the skirt. I redesigned that whole thing for Peggy," Bryant revealed to us. "What attracted me to that particular vintage piece was that bodice, the polyester plaid. I’ve always incorporated a couple signature design elements for Peggy, which are texture and plaid. I just always felt like plaid is such a multi-textural layered fabric, and I love how that correlates to Peggy’s character being very multi-layered and textural.
"In this episode, it’s about Peggy being ready to go to the new agency, despite having no office. She’s going into [the old office] fully dressed up ready for business in her suits, not even having a new office! It was like one of those cinematic opportunities for me to have a different silhouette for Peggy for that last scene. She really embodied that laissez-faire, I-don’t-care, I’m-the-boss attitude. I wanted it to be a less dressy look but even more powerful than the suits she was wearing previously."
And what about the sunglasses, her possessions, and the cigarette? "In filmmaking, sunglasses are the responsibility of the props department," Bryant said. "I’ll sometimes have some input on that, but Matthew Weiner told Ellen Freund, our prop director, that he wanted sunnies for her for that scene. I can’t take credit for that."
There you have it! Did you watch last night's episode of Mad Men? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!