Mad Men's acclaimed costume designer Janie Bryant has been nominated for an Emmy five times and won for her work on HBO's Deadwood in 2005. She was also nominated three times for Costume Designers Guild awards for her work on Deadwood and won a CDG for Mad Men in 2009 and 2010. So Janie knows a little something about selecting the right episode to best illustrate the scope of her work.
It should be no surprise to viewers that this year Bryant picked the Season Five two-hour premiere (“A Little Kiss”) for her 2012 Emmy costume submission.
Can you say “Zou Bisou?" When Don Draper’s (Jon Hamm) hot new French-speaking wife Megan (Jessica Pare), sang that sexy French pop song at Don’s birthday party, wearing a black chiffon sleeved mini-dress, she ignited an online frenzy of viewer response and media coverage. AMC even released Pare’s sultry rendition on iTunes with a limited edition vinyl record sold on the network’s website.
“There was such amazing and overwhelming feedback for that episode,” Bryant recalls. “I loved the premiere because it’s the first time we see Don and Megan as a married couple, the first time we see Don in a plaid sports coat that Megan bought for him and the first time we see a mini-dress on the show, which really makes it feel like there has been a passage of time.”
Bryant says that the premiere party scene was very difficult to costume design, a huge set with principle actors and background all together. “I tried to look at it as a painting, where the production is the canvas and fill in with actors, still having their costumes be a story about their characters. “
Bryant first showed Men-creator Matt Weiner the vintage plaid fabric she wanted to use for a sports coat for Don, “He got very excited, saying “Yes, yes, make it. I have the perfect scene for it!”
Other premiere costume highlights include Megan’s color palette, a continuation of the hue she wore when Don announces their engagement in the office in the season four finale.
“The coral color is very significant. It’s very fresh and it’s all about their new romance.," explains Bryant. "I wanted to start her off in the office in another coral ensemble, just to have that through line.”
One of Joan’s (played by Christina Hendricks) premiere episode dresses – a hot pink silk fitted frock, with an explosion of black asymmetrical dots -- is also an important statement.
“I designed a very 50’s bombshell silhouette for her reappearance at the office to pretend that 'Life is great, and don’t I look wonderful,' even though her world is falling apart. It's much more of a cocktail/dinner dress than a day dress. And when she’s greeted by a much younger, more modernly dressed receptionist, you can see the stark contrast between the silhouette of the late ‘50s and 1966.”