Saturday, October 30, 2010

Janie Bryant

So, yesterday's class did indeed benefit from a guest speaker--Mad Men's costume designer, Janie Bryant. I was very lucky indeed--the mother of one of my students (in my Media and Fashion seminar) is Bryant's agent, and the student was proactive and arranged her visit at the last minute. As a huge Mad Man fan, a scholar and fan of fashion and media from that period, I was beyond myself with excitement. So were my friends--two of whom, the incomparable Ben and Brynn--who came to class with me.

As with all of these events, it's difficult to walk that fine line between scholarly questions, fandom and requests for career advice. All three merged, with some success, as I found myself taking on a kind of moderator/interviewer role (sort of a James Lipton in pink tights). We started and ended with an episode of Mad Men--season two's "Maidenform," as a relatively large percentage of the students had never watched the show, to my surprise, I have to admit. Still, if I was 20 and living in NYC, interning and going to classes, I may not have watched either--my television viewing was at an all-time low during my undergrad years and that was well before the DVR.

Funnily enough, Janie Bryant said that the early 1960s wasn't her favorite period in fashion--not that she dislikes it, but she is currently into the 80s, 70s and 50s more--I imagine working with this period may have made it less novel for her. In terms of her own clothes, she was wearing what looked like some very expensive black leggings, amazing high heeled strappy tan ankle boots that looked like they were Chloe, a black sweater, white t-shirt and a beautiful (and expensive looking) black and white tweed jacket with some great vintage rings. Not very 60s at all.

It seems that Trudy Campbell is one of her favorite characters to dress (she prevaricated a bit on this)--she is modern and can afford to dress in more recent styles. Meghan wore the first mini skirt to be seen on Mad Men in the season finale. There was much discussion about Pete Campbell blue, about Trudy's pink baby doll maternity nightie (cut down from a much longer original), Joan's pen and sheath dresses (the pen necklace cost 50 cents at the Rose Bowl flea market) and Betty's struggles against her housewife role, seen in her sweetheart line crinolines and her occasional forays into more modern lines--particularly her black ensemble from Italy.

Also worthy of note, Janie Bryant's new book which I paged through. It's available from amazon and in my shopping cart as we speak--it looks really nice. And she's also doing a line for QVC that can be seen on November 1--I forget the exact time.


jennifer said...

Wow, that's awesome! I wish I could have been there to hear what Bryant had to say.

Interesting point about Betty's struggles against being a housewife playing out in her clothes. I'll have to pay attention to that in the future.

Cindy said...

thanks for sharing this! you're so lucky that you got to do this!

louise or valentine said...