Interview: 'Mad Men' Costume Designer Janie Bryant
By Geoffrey Brown
OUT: How did you get your start as a costume designer?
Janie Bryant: I studied fashion design and costume history in school and received a BFA in Fashion Design, but when I moved to New York City I met a lot of people in the film industry. During that time I was working for a designer named John Scher as his assistant. One night, at a Christmas party, I met a costume designer and she told me all about her job. From that moment on I knew that's what I wanted to be. Since I'd met other professionals in the film industry, I started making calls. I called everyone I knew to let them know I was available to work in the costume department of any upcoming project, and it really just grew from there.
What is your favorite part about your job?
I love being able to tell stories about characters through clothing and to see their transformation from actor into character. I also love doing research.
How did Mad Men come about?
The show's executive producer, Scott Hornbacher, and the director of the pilot, Alan Taylor, recommended me to the show's creator, Matthew Weiner. Matt and I met for two hours during our first meeting and connected on both a creative and personal level, and he hired me the next day. I've been with the show ever since.
What is the most interesting piece of clothing that you've had to seek out for the show?
One of my favorite pieces is the vintage silk crepe jumpsuit Jane Sterling wears in season five when she takes LSD. (Ed note: chicest thing to wear while tripping ever.)
If you weren't a designing costumes, what would you be doing?
I would be the star of my own television show! Or I'd be traveling the world.
What's the secret to getting the men of Mad Men looking so dapper?
For me it's about great design and great tailoring, but first and foremost it's about being true to the characters.
What new projects are you working on?
I'm working on some of my own outside projects and building the Janie Bryant brand. I'm also the brand ambassador for Maidenform and the spokesperson for Downy Wrinkle Releaser.
You've been a huge influence on men's fashion through the show. How do you feel about that?
It's the greatest compliment I could ever receive. I love menswear and am thrilled that men have been motivated to change their style and learn about great tailoring and design.
For more about AMC's Mad Men, click here.
Photos courtesy of Janie Bryant and AMC