5 minutes with: Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant

The Mad Men costumer gives us vintage-dressing tips!

Quick, name a costume designer.

Chances are your answer was Janie Bryant, Mad Men’s ace costumer, whose look for the show has proved so popular, it helped bring back ’60s-inspired looks and netted Bryant a clothing line for QVC, a gig as the face of Maidenform bras and the top spot on’s most influential person in fashion poll.

The LCBO (that’s the liquor store, for you non-Ontarians) brought Bryant to Toronto last week to speak about vintage clothes at a swishy little soiree at the Carlu to promote their new Classic Cocktails initiative. As fans of both the martini (gin, please, and very dry) and Mad Men we grabbed a few moments at the party, where Bryant was dressed in a very glamourous and very modern red St. John gown, to talk dressing up, telling a story and how to wear vintage without looking costumey. (Oh, and as for a classic cocktail, she recommended the old fashioned.)

On wearing vintage in a modern way:  “For me it’s more about having that one vintage piece, whether it is an accessory, or the dress, or the sweater, or the jacket, or the bag. And that could be from any period, it doesn’t even have to be from the ’60s. Or maybe it’s going retro with your hair and makeup and then wear a completely contemporary outfit. You know, I think it’s about choosing that one vintage piece and then mixing that with all other contemporary elements.

On getting dressed: “My take on dressing has always been about dressing up. I was always the lone ranger of dressing up.”


On being named the most influential person in fashion by Refinery 29 readers: “I really couldn’t believe it, I mean if you see the other people on the list… When my agent said “Janie you won” I just thought that’s impossible. That’s impossible! I mean Grace Coddington was on there, Karl Lagerfield. I mean, you’ve got to look at the list, it’s crazy.

On costume designers vs. stylists: “I think that people think that our job is to be a stylist and I mean, and you know, a stylist has a totally different job. A stylist is creating an image and a costume designer creates a character. And, you know our departments are totally different, it’s just a completely different job. Costume designers tell a story about all those characters that we see on the screen.”


On Peggy Olson: “I think that [Elisabeth Moss] is such an extraordinary actress and I love her style, I loved her whole progression of her style and costume design throughout the four seasons. I mean, she’s really been the one to make the biggest transition, out of all the women. So that has been really fun to create and design.”


On seeing the ’60s aesthetic come back in fashion: “The creator of the show, Matt Weiner, called me actually right before I left for Italy just a couple of weeks ago and said, ‘Janie you’ve got to get over to Prada, they have a jacket over there that’s an exact copy of Betty Draper’s costume from Margaret’s wedding.’ That was exciting that you know, people are so influenced by the show, and I think that you know TV is incredible that way, because you know the audience is seeing those images once a week and more people see it than a movie sometimes.


On life imitating art (or at least TV): “When I first started designing the show I was probably wearing more ’60s inspired garments, especially accessories, which I still actually do wear. I’ve really been influenced by the handbags, I love ladylike handbags.”


On critics calling January Jones’s Golden Globes dress too revealing: “That’s crazy. Are they nuns?”