A blog for Phoenix area women

Interview with “Mad Men” Costume Designer Janie Bryant

This Valley Girl had the lucky chance to interview a mover and shaker of Hollywood–“Mad Men” Costume Designer Janie Bryant! But I’m not the only one who has the chance to meet her and ask a few burning questions. This Emmy Award winner is set to host a fashion show on Nov. 6 on the second level of Dillard’s in Scottsdale Fashion Square, featuring the hottest fall trends for men and women.

Plus, the first 100 shoppers who purchase $50 or more of regular-price Dillard’s merchandise on Nov. 6, will receive an autographed copy of Bryant’s new book “The Fashion File” (Grand Central Publishing) as a gift.

The event, from 2 to 4 p.m., is in celebration of Scottsdale Fashion Week. Those that want to reserve a seat can call 480.949.5869.

When did you first decide you wanted to get into fashion design?
I studied fashion design when I went to school and I also studied costume history. I actually thought I was going to be a fashion designer for my career but I ended up meeting a lot of people in the film industry when I came to New York and was working on 7th Avenue. That’s when I decided I wanted to become a costume designer and started working on films and TV.

Who are some of your favorite well-known designers and why?
I really do love the classics. I’ve loved Christian Lacroix forever! I love Valentino, I love Yves Saint Laurent and Oscar de la Renta. I love young designers as well but really my all time favorites are the classics.

When you were asked to design for “Mad Men”, were you very familiar with the time period or did you have to do a lot of research? If so, where did you find most of your inspiration?
I was familiar with the period through my grandparents. They had that lifestyle of martini lunches and hosting great parties for my grandfather’s clients. I would love to look at all of their pictures. I still have my grandmother’s apron collection. But yes, I had to do a lot of research when I started designing the show. I did a lot of my research at Western Costume in LA. They have a huge costume library with everything from newspaper clippings to  family photos and “Look Magazine”, “Time Magazine”, “Life Magazine”, “GQ”, “Esquire”, “Vogue”, “Bazaar”. But also beyond that, I love to look at catalogs and “Good Housekeeping”, “Ladies Home Journal” and, of course, the Internet.

In addition to “Mad Men” you have also designed for other TV series like “Big Apple” and “Deadwood,” which would you say has been your favorite experience so far and why?
“Deadwood” is a project that continues to be close to my heart. There are so many people that are such big fans of that show. I love love the Victorian era. It’s hard to say which is the favorite because “Deadwood” and “Mad Men” are probably two of my favorites. I love “Mad Men” because I do love the period- it’s so beautiful and elegant. I love the fact that people have been so excited about dressing up again and really wanting to learn about foundations, shape-wear and getting the perfect fit. They are just so fanatical about “Mad Men” and the fashions of “Mad Men”. I think it’s really accessible  for contemporary men and women. And “Deadwood” was such an indulgence of that period filled with corsettes, nice pleading, silks, bouquets, velvets and woolins. It’s hard to say which is my favorite. I love them both for different reasons.

Why do you think women today are so attracted and inspired by the looks of the characters on “Mad Men”?
I think women want to look beautiful. I think they want to look polished, put together and gorgeous. And I think that time period really reflects that.

How do the looks from “Mad Men” inspire the upcoming fall season? Do you see any making its way into today’s mainstream fashion?
Yes, you see it everywhere from couture to mainstream. I think there’s so many options out there now for feminine style, like beautiful printed silks and the full-skirted dresses. You’re really seeing the lady-like handbags, the gloves and silhouettes that were so popular during that time period.

Who is your favorite character to dress and why?
I have a love for all of them. It really depends on what’s going on in the script and the story line. It always changes. I obsess about all of them all the time.

Are you new to the Scottsdale area? Why did you decide to host this particular fashion show?
I have been to the Scottsdale area before. I really thought it would be a great opportunity to talk to the clients in the area. Fashion is so much fun for me. It’s truly such a passion and obsession. It’s a great opportunity to have outreach in other places besides New York and Los Angeles. I’m so excited about being at Scottsdale Fashion Square.

What are your favorite online shopping websites? Favorite stores in Los Angeles?
I love RevolveClothing.com. But, I don’t do a lot of online shopping because I like to feel the fabrics, take measurements, see if there’s any seam allowance, etc. For the shows, I go to the costume shops. I also build a lot of the pieces for the cast. I shop vintage. I work with venders from across the country and then they send the pieces to me. It’s a little more industry-oriented as opposed to everyday shoppers. There are a couple places in town that I go to. Hubba Hubba is a great place in LA.

You are releasing your first book next month called “The Fashion File.” Are you excited? Why should our female readers want to pick up a copy of this?
It’s amazing! We just had the book launch. It was sponsored by Maybelline and it was at The Griffin in New York Wednesday night. We had so much fun. It was gorgeous. Maybelline was so generous to have this party for the book and for me. I loved it. I signed books, said hello, drank Champagne and was with my family and my boyfriend. It was epic.

The book is about becoming your own leading lady and obtaining your own personal style. It’s also about the importance of accessorizing and learning about your body shape, getting the right fitting and shape wear. It’s also about feeling great about yourself and feeling beautiful. It’s basically an overall guide to style.

Any exciting new project in the future?
I’m working on my own line on PBC that I launched in September. I’ll have my next show Nov. 1, along with three shows in February. I’m also promoting my new book and doing book signing. So right now it’s about PBC and the book.

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