AMC’s hit series Mad Men captured a record-leading 17 Emmy nominations Thursday and now it has a shot at breaking the record as the most-honored drama in television history.
But there was no Emmy nod for costume designer Janie Bryant, who had been previously nominated for season one and two.
Here's why it's a mystery. It's very unusual to overlook the costume category with so many acting, hair, makeup, writing, directing and technical nominations. Especially given her nods for the past two seasons.
By contrast, Downton Abbey earned 16 Emmy bids, Hatfields & McCoys also got 16, and HBO’s Hemingway & Gellhorn took 15. And all of these period shows included nominations for their respective costume designers, Susannah Buxton, Karri Hutchinson and Ruth Meyers.
But the oddest part about this snub is that season three was Mad Men’s strongest fashion season, opening with Megan Draper 's (Jessica Pare) buzzed about "Zou Bisou" sexy black chiffon sleeved minidress and her black lace lingerie worn to clean the floors. The web was in a fashion frenzy for a solid week after that episode aired.
And Joan Holloway's (Christina Hendricks) hourglass dresses played a major role in her Emmy nominated supporting arc this season. The series started with her wiggling her way back into the ad office and ended with her taking off her tight dress to sleep with a client, sealing a big deal for the firm. Her suddenly office-inappropriate clothing, a far cry from the A-line mini dresses worn by the young girls in the office, served to telegraph her advancing age and her growing anxiety about her personal and professional life.
Bryant's creative design and ability to rework period pieces for the show has been part of the zeitgiest for the past three years. It inspired a very popular Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 Mad Men collection for Banana Republic. And curiously, that era’s fitted sheaths and nipped waists with full skirts now dominates the Paris couture runways for Fall 2012 and will probably inspire many RTW designer’s Spring 2013 runway shows.
One possible theory for the snub is that perhaps the sucess of the show's look has caused viewers to downplay the costume design skills involved. Perhaps Mad Men’s mid-to-late ‘60s inspired mod styles looked a little too much like current day trends and less like a period drama.
But don’t cry for Bryant. As a result of her costume designer skill, she’s got some lucrative deals in place with a Maidenform Anniversary Collection of vintage inspired lingerie and as a brand ambassador for Downey’s Wrinkle Releaser. She also has a great book out, The Fashion File: Advice, Tips and Inspiration from the Costume Designer of Mad Men.
But ask any actress how important costume design is to her finding and portraying her character (and getting Emmy or Oscar nominated) -- they'll will tell you that they couldn't do it without the costume designer.