Pret-a-Reporter

'Mad Men' Costume Designer Janie Bryant Gave the Watergate Hotel a Modern Facelift

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Janie Bryant

But with a ‘60s-inspired flair, of course.

In the months since wrapping up her work on Mad Men, Emmy-winning costume designer Janie Bryant has been putting her eye for impeccable tailoring and crisp, elegant silhouettes to good use by giving the staff at Washington D.C.’s Watergate Hotel (yes, that Watergate) a uniform facelift.

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The collection, unveiled last week, is as neat and crisp as Donald Draper himself — but with a fresh, up-to-date spin. "The whole collection is really modern," Bryant told Pret-a-Reporter. But while the clothes themselves are 21st century-approved, the designer notes that it was the '50s and '60s eras that served as inspiration for the collection’s "elegance and formality."

"It’s all about this really dressed-up, very luxurious — almost formal — cool, chic design," she said of the warm gray uniforms, which include everything from double-breasted suits and accessories for men and fitted dresses and separates for women. "I felt like it was very important for the staff to feel like very formal in a way but also modern and super gorgeous and glamorous. I love all of those things."

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While the newly renovated hotel looks to avoid its scandalized ‘70s past ("[The renovation] is not about the roots. It’s about today,"), Bryant did draw upon some of the hotel’s more iconic imagery. "I really started with the Watergate signature check, which they use all in their packaging and within the hotel," she remarked. "I’ve also designed fabric that uses the Watergate signature check in the rooftop bar for the female servers’ dresses and also for the bartenders and the servers’ ties, so there is this whole check-theme going on."

As for the future, Bryant is currently working on the set of Eva Longoria's upcoming sitcom, Hot & Bothered, a dramedy about the behind-the-scenes happenings on the set of a Latino telenovela — and therefore sure to be filled with over-the-top, uber-glamorous looks.

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