Friday, December 17, 2010

"Mad Men" Costume Designer, Janie Bryant, "Enjoy the Glamour"

By Laura Medina

"Mad Men" & "Deadwood" costume designer, Janie Bryant autographing this scribe's book.
After much demand for her advice in how to inject glamour with personal style, "Mad Men" costume designer, Janie Bryant felt it was time to compile her education and experience into a style guide, "The Fashion File, Advice, Tips, and Inspiration from the Costume Designer of Mad Men."
This Southern girl parlayed her love of dressing up and clothing her Barbie Dolls, her degree from the American College of Applied College, her ten years working as a Seventh Avenue fashion designer into an Emmy-winning career as an highly esteemed costume designer for "Deadwood" and the influential "Mad Men."

January Jones, aka "Betty Draper," wrote in the foreword how this soft-spoken but modern lady, Ms. Bryant revolutionized the current state of the fashion industry.

Once she revived the long-forgotten but realistic hour-glass figure, current designers such as Michael Kors readjust their tailoring when keeping their collections contemporary. Dress form manufacturers changed and altered the bust lines and hips of their mannequins.

Thanks to Ms. Bryant's deft styling and tailoring of reintroducing the Fifties' hourglass silhouette for all of the women leads, she unwittingly gave full-figured women a voice after being neglected for so long.

Even though in her "The Fashion Files" Book signifies the epitome of each era, ranging from the Twenties Flapper to the Eighties' Glamazon, her favorite era is the Fifties.

Sketches from her "The Fashion Files" Book, describing the main style of each era.

Unlike the majority of fashion or style guidebooks, dictating how a person should dress and what is hip and trendy at that moment, Ms. Bryant's book is more how one becomes and thinks like a costume designer.

Knowing the madness of "Mad Men," she delve into the research process of dressing a period television drama, using modern day techniques, as on page nine, "How Color Makes a Character."

Not only does one has to love the film business with it's demands on accuracy and limited budget, but one has to read the script and uses clothes, hair, and makeup to tell the story visually. The duty of a costume designer is to say who these characters, without uttering a word, through their clothes, hair, and makeup to the audience.

Differing from the runways, a costume designer for a television show has to keep and redress the actors in the same piece that signifies their character. On page seventy-seven, in "Again and Again," Ms. Bryant reuses a certain look or item to build continuity and familiarity for the audience so they will feel closer to the characters. The repeated item becomes that character's statement piece whether it is Betty Draper's yellow cardigan as her comfort clothing or Peggy Olsen's blue and black checkered suit as her empowerment outfit or Joan Holloway swinging her gold fountain pen as her subtle but strong sign of Queen Bee authority.

A costume designer also uses clothes to signify the closeness or the tension in a relationship or a character's changing status in society, such as the mousy secretary Jane Siegal into socialite Jane Sterling wearing the trendiest Mod shift dress in Op Pop prints.

This is where the fun appeals to Janie Bryant, using dressing up as story-telling.

She can't say what the characters are going to wear for the upcoming season of "Mad Men," but she can say this...through her friend, Cooper Ray, Janie Bryant is going to be a guest judge for Charleston Fashion Week in Charleston, SC.

This series of holiday articles started with Dita Von Teese gracing these write-ups with glamour then Ms. Janie Bryant is bookending this with her advice on how to be glamorous for any shape and sizes.

Very fitting indeed.

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