Mad Men’s final season picked back up this Sunday night, and while we were eager to find out exactly where each character stands, we were equally anxious to see what they were wearing. So we caught up with Mad Men’s costume designer Janie Bryant this morning to get the scoop on the standout looks from the mid-season premiere episode titled Severance.
For starters, even though the '70s trend is headlining for a spring, Bryant explains that the fashions in Severance were very much inspired by the late '60s. "Everyone’s trying to make it seem like it’s That ‘70s Show, but the late ‘60s is really what the early '70s was like," Bryant tells InStyle. "When people think of the '70s, they think of 1975, '76, '77, and Saturday Night Fever, but the 1970s was really what the late '60s were all about. Styles really carried over," the costume designer adds. The looks differ from the first half of the season in that the silhouettes are a bit more relaxed this time around. "The looks are looser, which is a part of the period–it's very much about keeping with the late '60s and early '70s aesthetic. There was definitely a sense of things loosening up for both the men and the women."
But Don Draper's signature style is a different story. "His look stayed true to form, as he always does. And I do love that consistency about Don," Bryant professes. "I think Don is a character who is very set in his ways. He doesn't change, so even though his lapels and ties may be a tad wider, it’s about keeping the tradition of how we see Don Draper," she explains.
The most playful fashion scene came when Don and Rodger Sterling took a group of "very young, fashionable, and beautiful girls" on a date (pictured, at top). "Those three girls were definitely all about what was happening in 1970. It was so very important to see the contrast of class in that scene," says Bryant. "And I love those orange pleated sleeves. I use the accordion pleat a lot," she adds.
One of the most memorable moments of Severance had everything to do with that chinchilla coat Rachel Menken–aka Rainey Qualley, actress Andie MacDowell's daughter–wore in the opening scene (pictured, above). "The chinchilla coat was written in the script. Matthew Weiner [Mad Men's creator] wanted a chinchilla fur and that is a real chinchilla fur from the period that I actually rented from a furrier in Los Angeles," Bryant gushes. "It’s truly a miracle that the furrier even had a chinchilla coat because it is the most fragile of all furs–they usually don't last long–so we handled that coat with crazy good care. We took it from her in between every single take: she wasn’t allowed to sit in it and she wasn’t allowed the stand around in it. She could only wear the coat when she was shooting that scene" Bryant adds.
After Joan and Peggy are targets of a slew of sexually charged jokes in an office meeting, the two share a powerful scene in the elevator (pictured, above). And even though the dialogue was nearly mesmerizing (Joan sneers that she wants to "burn this place down"), their looks were equally as captivating. "It’s important that Joan was wearing a very strong color in that scene; it illustrates her sassiness and her command but it was also important that the color was more feminine and provocative than what she normally wears," Bryant points out. "It was also important that there was a v-neckline on that dress–just to illustrate how terrible those guys were."
As for Peggy, "Peggy is still Peggy," Bryant claims. "She is, of course, old fashion and not at the height of fashion at any time–and she still wearing her '60s outfits, for sure. I loved that suit because it's Peggy’s signature plaid and polka dots prints. I love it how the materials really reflect the complexity of her character."
But Peggy switched gears in lieu of a softer, more feminine look for a date with Mathis's brother-in-law, Stevie Wolcott (pictured, above). "It’s fun when we get to see Peggy dressed up–especially dressed up for a boy," Bryant gushes. "The color is a little bit different from what she usually wears. The pastel blue looked so pretty on her, especially with her eyes, and I thought it would be nice for her to look really beautiful on the date," she explains. "And Matthew Weiner really wanted her to look beautiful, too. The dress is so pretty, right?" she excitedly adds.