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Best of TV Costuming 2015: Bookending the 1970s with Mad Men and Fargo or a Tale of Two Peggys

21 Dec

Welcome to TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2015” costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking; we want to celebrate the work of television’s best costume designers.

Lurid patterns in earthy tones, high waisted flares, corduroy, sheepskin collars, pussy bows and ribbed turtlenecks are all in my favorite clothing wheelhouse and the current 70s fashion (re)cycle continues to bring so much pleasure. If I could cosplay one film it would be Almost Famous and 2015 delivered on the 1970s clothing on TV front with two shows that bookend this decade. Mad Men entered the 1970s in its final season and the second season of Fargo is takes place in 1979. Even The Americans which is actually set in the early 80s has a whole lot the decade before it still leaving its trace particularly in the knitwear, underwear and wig department.

1970 is where Peggy Olson really comes into her own and her office wear has never been as cool as it is in this final season. Long gone are the frumpy days with Pete Campbell critiquing her choice of attire and her confidence emanates through the bold patterns and colors of her costuming.

Mad Men 7.09 Pima and PeggyTHE Peggy Olson moment of the final season is of course her power strut through the offices of McCann and this is an ultimate cool as fuck declaration. All the applause for Janie Bryant and her incredible costume design work on Mad Men and especially for giving us this incredible Peggy entrance outfit.

Mad Men 7.12 Queen PeggyEverything about this look is perfect and also perfectly Peggy. The other best thing about this is ensemble is that it can later be seen hanging on her office door in the season finale for when it is needed next.

Megan, Betty and Joan are the three characters whose style has been influenced by fashion magazines of the time and the looks most likely to be updated and copied now. That is until season 7 when Peggy upped her game or rather embraced a style which is manages to be both work appropriate and embraces the color/pattern explosion of the time without being too much.

Here is a selection of looks I would wear today:

Mad Men 7.11 Peggy dress Mad Men 7.14 Peggy (stan) Mad Men 7.14 Peggy (stripes) Mad Men 7.14 PeggyAnd if it didn’t result in another roller skating related broken wrist I might try this out for size.

Mad Men 7.12 PeggyThe other Peggy in question has high hopes and stacks upon stacks of fashion magazines in her basement, which comes in very handy for more than just sartorial tips later in the season. Peggy Blumquist wants way more from her comfortable small town life and dreams big; this should be filed under ‘careful what you wish’ for in the second season of Fargo. 

Peggy’s signature red beret and fur collared coat caught our attention back when the first trailer appeared and these two items are worn throughout the season paired with her fantastic red leather gloves.

PeggyThere’s a little something Faye Dunaway as Bonnie in Bonnie and Clyde that always springs to mind whenever a beret is worn or I start humming Prince.

Whereas Megan Draper looks like she influences the pages of Vogue, Peggy Blumquist is very much the woman who carefully curates her outfits to match the ones she sees in magazines. This isn’t to say that Peggy will wear whatever is deemed cool and costume designer Carol Case ensures that she never goes full on fashion ridiculous with high end style ensembles. Instead she carefully puts together a look which fit in with her real life while pointing toward the great things she believes can happen.

She is also the kind of woman who wears her expectations on her sleeve including trips to Paris she sees in her future.

Fargo - PeggyAnd for all your high waisted needs, well Peggy has that covered too. Even when her outfits take a turn for the grey when the shit hits the fan.

Fargo - Peggy BFor Peggy at her most down to earth look no further than ribbed stripes at dinner.

Fargo - Peggy in stripesAnd for her most flamboyant.

Peggy B - sunglassesPeggy Blumquist is not only of the best dressed characters on TV during 2015, but she’s also one the standouts in terms of performance and her overall journey. Kirsten Dunst delivers on every level in making Peggy’s seemingly monstrous act at the start of the season so emotionally crushing in the why of it all. She is both incredibly naive and blinkered in how she views reality and that final scene in Lou’s car is devastating as she realizes exactly what has been lost in her attempt to achieve what she thinks she deserves.

Two Peggys, two very different stories and bookending a time of progression, turbulence, social discord and some rather out there style choices.

For more Best of 2015 posts stay tuned!

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Mad Men Series Finale “Person to Person” – One Call at a Time

18 May

Letting Don Draper go is hard to do and the last ever episode of Mad Men shows that even when Don is thousands of miles away and suffering a crisis the pull of those he cares about is still strong. Don has a pattern of fleeing, forever looking over his shoulder after all the mistakes he has made and yet he can never quite make a clean break as there is always something that brings him back. While we don’t see Don’s big New York return the transition from Don’s smile while meditating to the concept behind that Coke ad is enough to suggest Don does indeed make it back to his former life; the cycle forever goes on and on. Don might never quite be at peace with himself but he is edging closer to having a concept of home.

Mad Men 7.14 Don sittingThe phone plays a huge part in keeping Don tethered to who he was and still is; the last time I talked about how the telephone is deployed in an episode I focused on how this device helps with the concealment of feelings. In “Person to Person” it does the opposite and it allows confessions aplenty from matters of the heart to those deep dark secrets these characters don’t want anyone to know. It also has the power to aid a breakup.

Mad Men 7.14 Sally phoneDon’s relationship with Sally has recently been mostly phone based; this makes sense because she’s at boarding school and he’s moving from state to state with no actual plan. Even without seeing her face, Don can sense that something is up with his daughter as she has no interest in his Utah adventures (although really this reaction is pretty accurate even without a personal trauma) and at first he asks if it is to do with a boy. Sally could have easily hung up without spilling her mother’s secret but deep down she knows her father should be told about Betty’s condition. Last week’s entire episode had me yelling at the screen for Sally to ring Don and tell him so he could come swooping home, but that was never going to happen. This isn’t how their story ends.

At first Don thinks her mother is just being a hypochondriac, then he hears the full severity of the diagnosis and it hits him hard. Sally’s voice cracks when she initially tells him and then she moves into the protective big sister role (that we see again later when she returns home and Bobby Draper’s attempts at looking after his heartbreaking) getting her father to take what she is saying about the future of her brothers seriously. This is where Sally cuts off emotionally and it doesn’t help that there’s another girl skulking about waiting to use the phone. Nothing is private when you have a communal situation like this. She drops the bombshell and ends the conversation with “I can’t talk right now” which is a pretty devastating last scene between these two characters. Costume observation – Sally has worn the necklace her father got her in every scene since that Valentine’s episode showing their bond despite his persistent absence.

Mad Men 7.14 BettyOn a couple of occasions in this finale we have back to back scenes involving calls that directly result from the previous one; Don immediately rings Betty after Sally has all but hung up on him. Don offers to come home and Betty is of course mad that no one can keep her secret. If only she knew that Bobby knows exactly what is going on   thanks to the not so quiet discussions she had with Henry when they were fighting about treatment. This is another case of revealing everything and experiencing this incredible connection thanks to wires and this plastic device. Of course Betty rejects Don’s suggestions of coming home (this isn’t his home) and having the boys live with him because she wants to keep things “as normal as possible and you not being here is part of that.” We can see how ill Betty looks and part of this is down to her attire and lack of makeup, plus her hair doesn’t have the same hairspray helmet rigidity as usual. Her nails are still perfect though. And here comes the kicker of an exchange.

Mad Men 7.14 Don phone to BettyDon calls her Birdie and this sets off all the tears for Don, Betty and I. So much has happened between this pair with so many bitter words, but they still have this immense ability to slay me with this very personal and intimate nickname.

Mad Men 7.14 Don phone to PeggyInstead of returning to his current home, Don instead moves further west and to the state he flees to in moments like this. When he mentions LA I figured we might see Megan, instead he goes to see Stephanie as a reminder of his Dick Whitman past (and funnily enough the last time I discussed the use of telephones was the last time we saw Stephanie as she painted a picture to Don that didn’t match her real circumstance). Through Stephanie, Don ends up at a hippy retreat in various seminars he clearly has nothing but disdain for. When he can’t escape (because Stephanie fled taking the car with her) he turns to an old friend making another important call home.

Mad Men 7.14 Peggy PhoneBefore Don can even say hello Peggy stands up to deliver her “Where the hell are you?” annoyance, he can’t see her stand but visually for us this shows us just how mad she is and then she softens sitting back down as she reassures him that he can come back. The mention of Coke is important for later and once again this account is dangled in front of him like an advertising pot of gold. Declarations such as Don’s “I can’t get out of here” isn’t just referring to his physical inability to leave as he is far too stuck in his head and the mistakes he has made, which he lists off to Peggy in a sad recap of misdemeanors from scandalizing his child to the really big secret of taking another man’s name.

Don and Peggy is the relationship at the heart of Mad Men and this conversation is so important because of the level of trust and understanding between the pair. Peggy has real concern for Don and Elisabeth Moss does this little inhale followed by a difficulty to say anything that is just so devastating good. This is their last dance together and while it is far from a physical interaction like the Sinatra aided moment it still packs a huge emotional punch seeing Don allowing himself to be this vulnerable. In the same way Sally cut Don off, he does the same to Peggy before he doubles over shaking looking like he is having a panic attack.

And now for the super swoony heart swells to a thousand times its normal size sequence.

Mad Men 7.14 Stan phoneAs soon as Peggy gets off the phone to Don the first person she calls is Stan and what starts as a conversation about Don turns into an apology swiftly moving into a declaration of love. In person these two always end up bickering with Peggy taking whatever positives Stan says twisting it into a criticism. On the phone they are perfect and Stan brings this up segueing into a confession and one I have long been waiting to hear. Peggy is all a fluster as she unpacks everything that has just been said while seemingly only just getting this is how she feels too.

What this delivers is a showcase of every amazing Elisabeth Moss facial expression, a hit parade if you will from a whole heap of confusion to the best smile I have ever seen. The hand on her heart gesture is something Stan can’t see and it comes with an abstract “and you’re here” but it is pretty much one of the greatest things this show has done. We don’t know exactly what point Stan leaves Peggy talking – I suspect it is before he hears her say “I think I’m in love you too” – and come sprinting to her office, but we hear him coming and it is magical. It has been a long time coming and yet it is also a huge surprise that they went there. Just look at that smile (and yet another amazing Peggy dress).

Mad Men 7.14 Peggy (stan)One other pairing almost became a thing as Joan asked Peggy to go into business with her, first setting up a lunch while adjusting the TV for Kevin while he watches Sesame Street. Ultimately Peggy decided to stay doing what she is doing because this is what she loves doing, but we did get one final fabulous and slightly contentious Peggy/Joan scene.

Mad Men 7.14 Joan and KevinGoing back a step and Joan’s relationship with Richard was all sunshine and let’s try everything until she realized that she isn’t ready to be on vacation forever. There is still work to be done with Ken reaching out to her for her expertise and while McCann could never appreciate her skills there are plenty who know what Joan is capable of, including herself. By answering the phone while she was having a discussion with Richard about their relationship it became abundantly clear they want very different things in life.

Mad Men 7.14 JoanAs Joan clutched the phone to her chest (while wearing the most fabulous leopard print robe) I definitely uttered “what an asshole” out loud.

But ending Joan’s story with Holloway Harris (got to have two names) made me so ridiculously happy.

Mad Men 7.14 Holloway HarrisCue all Broad City Yas Kween gifs please.

Stepping away from connections and revealing truths on the phone to highlight some other moments that made this a truly satisfying way to end Mad Men.  First up Pete, Peggy and the cactus.

Mad Men 7.14 Pete and PeggyPeggy pushes buttons and it isn’t a coincidence that pretty much all of her significant relationships have been just as heavy on admiration and antagonism. The first moment in the episode to get those misty eyes going came as Pete and Peggy said goodbye; in the same way Birdie has so much history between Don and Betty, “a thing like that” is so connected with Pete and so Peggy saying it back to him is loaded with so much meaning. For all that has gone on between them, there is ultimately warmth and respect. We’ve come a long way.

Mad Men 7.14 PeggyIn this shot Peggy is looking at Harry Crane how we all look at Harry Crane while wearing an incredible green and orange outfit that I need in my life.

Mad Men 7.14 Peggy (stripes)This ensemble is a harder one to pull off and yet I am still all in. Peggy’s costuming and style this season really reflects how far she has come.

Mad Men 7.14 StanThe highlight being her McCann entrance outfit, which is hanging on the back of her door. Nice Halloween decoration on her Roger Sterling (via Bert Cooper) gifted art.

Mad Men 7.14 DonDon staring out to the ocean he once waded out into and the cut from him meditating to the 1971 Coke commercial made me go from huh this Don ending is kind of unsatisfactory to HOLY SHIT THIS IS EXCELLENT. Don is going home after all. The cycle will probably continue, but at least he now has some semblance of self.

Mad Men, I’m going to miss you.

How Betty Took Control Back on Mad Men

11 May

When Betty Draper visited a psychiatrist back in season one of Mad Men her doctor reported back to Don. When she gave birth in season three she was so out of it thanks to the cocktail of drugs her dreams were more vivid than the actual labor. Now in the penultimate episode Betty receives some devastating health related news and her doctor will only tell her what is wrong when her husband gets there. When Henry doesn’t trust this first diagnosis (he trusts it enough to snatch Betty’s cigarettes from her hands that once trembled long ago) and when they visit another doctor the men talk about her diagnosis and options as if she isn’t in the room.

Mad Men 7.13 Betty DraperThe camera stays on Betty with the men out of focus in the background; she is the object being discussed and while they do so without acknowledging her we cannot escape her face of concern. We linger with her as she registers the only real fear we see from her over the episode as she moves through the stages pretty quickly only briefly resting on denial and ending up with acceptance by the time we hear her sob inducing letter to Sally. I thought the Peggy/Stan chat was bad enough on tear stained cheek scale and yet this hits the upper echelon of crying; the heave sob.

Mad Men 7.13 Betty diagnosisHenry is proactive and he’s always been one for finding a solution or a better way; he offered her an escape from her awful marriage playing the role of savior, but this is one thing he can’t save her from no matter how many connections he has with the Rockefellers. The cancer is aggressive and has spread so the treatments will only prolong her life for nine months to a year. Betty’s refusal to embrace this chance baffles Henry so he breaks her confidence and goes to the one person he think can sway.

Now to a devastating scene in a string of devastating scenes and one which hit me in a personal way that I was not expecting; some backstory and when I was 15 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, thankfully they caught it early and she made a full recovery. There was something so familiar about the way Sally was told and her reaction, from the covering of the ears to not fully grasping the severity of the diagnosis while totally understanding it all at once.

Mad Men 7.13 Sally earsKiernan Shipka knocks it out of the park as she quickly moves between extreme emotions and I also want to single out Christopher Stanley’s performance particularly when Henry can’t hold in the tears any longer. The level of vulnerability from Henry is brand new and her eyes do this thing where she isn’t quite sure how to respond so she does the only thing she can and puts a reassuring hand on his back. My dad was torn to pieces in the same way and it’s hard to put into words quite how much this scene resonates with me. It also doesn’t help that my screen is pretty blurry as I type this and it is something I haven’t thought about in a long time.

Mad Men 7.13 Sally and HenryWhen Betty sees Sally as part of a surprise visit (she tells her brothers the very believable story that she did something bad at school again) the look she gives her is of pure disgust. Once again her choice has been taken away from her as Henry has gone against her wishes. Betty wrestles her control back by choosing to do nothing except carry on as if everything is fine.

A late night conversation with Sally underlines why Betty is behaving like this and it is tied to how she watched her own mother die – Betty’s relationship with her mother and the pressure she was put under goes a long way to explain why Betty is the way she is – and the last thing Betty wants is to see her daughter to go through the same life altering experience. Of course this is going to impact Sally in ways Betty can’t control; there’s no easy fix for pain like this, but she can have some influence on how this ends. Sally gets one final moment of snark in telling her mother that she is refusing treatment because she loves the tragedy and while this is far from a warm and fuzzy conversation it is as close to mother/daughter bonding as we’re going to get. Betty has offered advice to Sally on makeup and boys in fleeting moments but here she is passing on real words of wisdom telling her that she has fought for plenty in her life and how it is not a weakness to know when to move on. In fact this could be considered the least selfish thing Betty has done. She already looks like a ghostly vision in this nightdress.

Mad Men 7.13 Betty nightdressOne of the thematic threads running through “The Milk and Honey Route” is all about instincts and “how do you know when…?” Pete is all about looking at opportunity and ignoring his desire to always look for something better, Don uses his experience of forever running from who he is to pass on knowledge to someone he sees a lot of himself in and Betty knows when it is time to stop and live the rest of however short her life is the way she wants to.

Mad Men 7.13 Betty collegeThis means continuing with college (I am so bummed out that my potential Betty Draper therapist spinoff is even more unlikely now) and Henry’s initial question of why is met with “Why was I ever doing it?” And that’s all Henry needs to know that his wife is right; it’s going to be horrible but right here, right now this decision makes sense. When Betty looks at you like that you know she’s going to do what she wants.

It now feels very apparent that last week’s kitchen shoulder rub is the last Don and Betty scene and I am so glad it was one with such strong affection giving Jon Hamm and January Jones one last hurrah with each other. Betty and Don were terrible together, but like Pete, I find myself nostalgic and sentimental for how it was.

Mad Men 7.13 letterAnd now to the episode kicker and Betty’s final act of control and the letter she has given Sally includes all the instructions regarding her funeral details down to her outfit and hair (when brushing her hair earlier in the episode this felt like focusing on part of her body she can stop from breaking). Sally is not meant to open it until after she dies but I don’t think Betty expected her to pay attention to this wish. It is a mostly practical letter, but it is the closing sentiment which shows a final understanding of who her daughter is and shatters me into a million pieces.

“Sally, I always worried about you because you march to the beat of your own drum, but now I know that’s good. I know your life will be an adventure.”

Mad Men 7.13 Don DraperOne episode to go. Hold me.

 

Mad Men Music Monday: Space Oddity

4 May

Transitioning to a bigger firm was always going to be harder for some on Mad Men which is why they did everything they could to stop this from becoming a thing with no success in last week’s terrific outing. We’ve seen how seriously Joan and Peggy were taken in one of their meetings a few weeks ago and Joan’s desire to burn the place to the ground comes back in full force after she propositioned and treated like garbage.

Don has never been one for being tied down and the whole point of starting their own firm at the end of season 3 was to embrace a semblance of freedom. That has long gone and staring out of the window is far more satisfying than listening to another version of himself wax lyrical about dudes and beer. If these words were coming out of Jon Hamm’s mouth it might be different, but through this other guy the spell is broken.

Mad Men 7.12 DonHell, Peggy gets mistaken for a secretary and her new office is not ready so instead she is offered a place in the pool; a compromise she is not willing to take. All this is done via her secretary Marsha and she’s not even worth a phone call from anyone at McCann. Peggy gets the best deal of the episode in that she gets to hangout in the old office with a surprise companion. The moment where Peggy calls out asking out if anyone is there accompanied by creepy organ music is made all the funnier thanks to the person playing said music. It’s not just a soundtrack choice, but Roger putting off going over to his new office for as long as possible.

Mad Men 7.12 Peggy and RogerPeggy notes how this is the most Roger has ever paid attention to her and while she nails the reasons he wants her to stay there – so she can be his audience – these scenes are so much fun that I can only be thankful that they fucked up Peggy’s move. Roger talks in big terms when it comes to how much he feels for the company and while Peggy points out how miserable it was (let’s not forget one partner killed himself not all that far from where they sit) it was far from all bad. Roger has been the one in the past to tell Peggy how it is and that she should ask for things including not going over to McCann at 4 o’clock when she is drunk as they have already made her wait. Instead she stays drinking and now I have a new life goal:

Mad Men 7.12 PeggyMy track record with roller skates means I wouldn’t be able to secure my other life goal which is Peggy’s incredible McCann entrance.

Mad Men 7.12 Queen PeggyThis outfit, those sunglasses, that look; everything is perfection and it’s probably all going to go to shit in an instant. But at least we have this. Without Joan, Peggy’s accounts are going to get picked over and I just hope that Peggy’s career dreams won’t be left in the wreckage.

Peggy has been gifted with Bert Cooper’s ‘octopus pleasuring a woman’ painting by Roger and she proudly clutches it under her arm when making her big entrance. Bert Cooper makes an appearance in Don’s car as a sleep deprived hallucination and I’m glad to see him act as Don’s almost voice of reason while also pointing out that of course he did not read On the Road (I tried to read this book once, but it was very much not for me). Bert is the man who died watching the moon landing and spoke one of the lines of Mad Men – “she was an astronaut” – so it is fitting that he is in an episode that closes out with David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”

Don has his own mission which is to find Diana and while I have no investment in this relationship in the slightest, there is another interaction that warms my heart. When Don’s attempt to take Sally back to school is unsuccessful because she got a ride with someone else he does get to share a genuinely warm moment with Betty. He gives her a shoulder rub which looks like it could lead to more, but doesn’t and there is no antagonism here.

Mad Men 7.12 Don and BettyBetty has followed her dream of enrolling in college to get a Masters in Psychology – repeating my dream of ‘Mad Woman: Therapist Betty Draper’ as a spinoff please – and she’s already started on the reading list. Don calls her Birdie and whenever he uses this affectionate nickname I melt and forget all the shit that has come between them.

Two more episodes to go! Here is Roger to play us out this week.

Mad Men 7.13 Roger

Peggy Olson – Queen of the Sofa Confession on Mad Men

27 Apr

Couches are a vital part of the office furniture on Mad Men; just think of how many times we have seen Don Draper reclining on one. In this episode he does so contemplating how they can keep their independence (they can’t). Don’s reclining experience is not what interests me and it is Peggy Olson who springs to mind when I think of this location. From her early morning encounter with Pete back in season 1 when only a cleaner was in the office to the end of the second year as nuclear annihilation loomed. Pete confessed his love as the Cuba Missile Crisis peppered the unburdening of the soul with Peggy revealing how she “could of had you in my life forever if I wanted to” because she had his child. In “Time & Life” this story is revisited in a couple of ways and Peggy earns her Queen of the Sofa Confession title.

First between the parents who never were.

Mad Men 7.11 Peggy and PetePete is having a shit fit about the merger and after he storms out of the meeting the first thing he sees is a very awkward looking Peggy getting hugged by an over-excited child.

Mad Men 7.11 PeggyAutomatically conjuring up feelings of their big secret it jolts Pete into telling Peggy about the drama which has just unfolded. He thinks it is only fair and no one else is going to tell her. No matter how many arguments they have about work (such as the bickering match last week) they have this unspoken bond and one that is unknown to anyone else. Yes Don and now Stan know about Peggy’s baby secret, but she has never spilled who the father is. On another show this would have probably been worked in along with a final season reunion with their son, but Mad Men is not that show and this is probably all the closure we are going to get with this storyline. If that is the case then I am more than fine as it is dealt with so beautifully this week. There is much space between them so despite their strong connection the void is wide. Now take into account the couch confession at the end of season 2:

Mad Men 2.13 Pete and Peggy couchObviously a lot has changed as 1961 is very much sponsored by the color brown (so is 1970 but there’s a lot more color) plus they both look like babies themselves. Pete’s couch has grown substantially and so has the gap between them; this secret is there forever connection and destruction of what was. There is a tiny part of me that ships these two and of course Peggy deserves so much more than Pete and yet I can’t help how much I relish their scenes particularly when they allude in the vaguest terms to what occurred in the past.

Mad Men 7.11 Peggy and Stan part 1Adventures in Stan and Peggy inadvertently babysitting while at work include Peggy revealing all about the big McCann move to Stan while the girl they’re not watching accidentally staples her finger. Peggy and Stan have a high comfort level with telling each other how it is and despite their many disagreements they are close enough for Peggy to warn him about this merger. Lots of pointing of knees toward each other.

Mad Men 7.11 Peggy and StanAfter the bleeding finger/Peggy joining the list of characters who have uttered fuck this season moment (Sally and Megan being the other two so far) Stan and Peggy end up having a the kind of conversation which pretty much has me wanting to make PEGGY OLSON 4EVA tees/cushions/banners. What starts off as a discussion about what transpired with the girl and her mother moves into very personal territory as Stan finds out his assumptions about Peggy and her feelings about kids are way off base. Stan thinks Peggy is angry she has got to this certain time in her life without having kids and he compliments on everything she has achieved because she hasn’t had kids. It is like a precursor to the “Can a woman have it all?” discussion and Peggy tells him not to “do that.” Double standards feature heavily as Stan makes a joke regarding not having any kids that he knows of with Peggy countering “It wouldn’t matter if you did. You can walk away.” Stan’s claim of understanding because he had a mother who wasn’t great is not enough for him to understand his mother.

Of course this is nothing to do with Stan, his mother or the woman who yelled at Peggy and Stan is intuitive enough to pick up on this and the strong feelings of guilt Peggy is projecting. And Peggy is right that a woman should be able to move on the way a man can in the same situation. Peggy has managed to do this because it was kept so hush hush and because the circle of people who know about it is so small, but this doesn’t stop her thinking about this (remember in “The Suitcase” when she told Don that playgrounds made her think of her son, this line still devastates me now). Also gut-wrenching is Peggy’s answer to Stan’s “What did you do?”

“I’m here… and he’s with a family somewhere. I don’t know but it’s not because I don’t care. I don’t know because you’re not supposed to know or you can’t go on with your life.”

Peggy says she’s fine and my screen is very blurry right now as this scene is heartbreaking/stunning/soul crushing/life affirming/all of the above. Elisabeth Moss is so spectacular at revealing Peggy’s pain without tipping into hysterics and she is particularly good at holding her tears so we can see them but they don’t fall from her eyes. I’m not looking forward to the moment when Peggy Olson is not in my life.

And in other non-Peggy couch moments from this episode that are worth pointing out and another encounter that comes with a lot of feelings.

Mad Men 7.11 Roger and JoanRoger and Joan have both moved on (Roger is still seeing Megan’s mother Marie and Joan is with Richard) they also share the bond of a secret child and a whole lot of history.

Mad Men 7.11 Pete and TrudyA less than happy former couple waiting on a coach at a prospective school for their child is Pete and Trudy as they fail to hide their animosity with each other. All it takes is insults from another, a punch and my new favorite Pete Campbell line – “The King ordered it!”- for Trudy and Pete to go from these faces to a tender moment. Pete is in a rush to get back to the city because of everything that is going on, but there is time to listen to Trudy’s woes including how she hasn’t got many friends because their husbands hit on her. Her worries then turn to ten years time when the attention from everyone stops and actually this might be my favorite Pete line as he tells her “you’re ageless.” Pete Campbell the sweetheart. Catch it soon before he is gone forever.

Mad Men Music Monday: “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (With Bonus Side Eye)

20 Apr

Looking to the past and asking questions about the future is what advertising does by using nostalgia and desire for the things we had/want to shift products. Mad Men explores this notion throughout its seven seasons charting one decade and the two that bookend it. The 50s influence was clear to see at the start of the show from the style to the traditional Draper family setup.

Change has come in an explosive fashion throughout this ten year period and when a new decade begins there are plenty of questions/thinkpieces (even before this term was a thing) about what the future will look like, while examining the ten year period that has just occurred. The question of the future is something that looms over this episode which is kicked off by Roger giving Don the task of writing their Gettysburg Address for his work trip to the Bahamas.

Mad Men 7.10 magazinesThis is the most we have seen Don work in a while, but all he really does is ask other people how they see their future because he has no idea about his own. We see another divorced man celebrating the freedom of no plans, but without anything to look forward to, what is the point? Even the empty apartment which Don swears had some good times – all I can think of is arguments aplenty and Zou Bisou Bisou – is gone by the end of the episode and we are left with Don out in the hallway with no idea what the fuck he is going to do. Enter this week’s killer closing credits song choice with Roberta Flack singing “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and even though Don’s sad face often has me rolling my eyes in exasperation on this occasion and with this song I feel for the dude.

You know who I feel more for? Yep, it’s Sally after she has to endure not one but two flirtatious encounters with her parents and her friends. The Glen/Betty relationship has always included this weird energy and Betty is incapable of not making something about her as she has this desire to be better than everyone, even her own kids.

Mad Men 7.10 Sally, Glen, BettyDon’s problem comes courtesy of his inability not to flirt if presented with the opportunity; on this occasion he claims he played along so not to embarrass Sally’s friend Sarah and even if this is the case it is still worthy of every moment of side eye and snark that Sally sends in the direction of her father. Before she gets on the bus she tells Don that he “can’t control himself” and that if anyone pays attention to either him or Betty then they just “ooze everywhere.” That imagery alone conjures up a whole lot and considering what Sally has walked in on the past it has a profound effect on how she views these interactions. Sally digs the knife in a little further by pointing out that she will hopefully be different to her parents, but Don flips this back on her by telling her “you are like your mother and me, you’re going to find that out.” Run, Sally, run!

Expectation versus reality comes into play throughout the episode and while advertising is fleeting – Don lightly scoffs at Peggy’s desire to create something with lasting value – it uses certain hopes/dreams to sell a product to us. No, this new vacuum cleaner won’t turn a house into a happy magical home, but they might use that idea to get you to buy one. So when Glen comes to see Sally, he’s really there to see Betty and he’s hoping to get something good out of his Vietnam predicament. Betty isn’t the reason Glen is going to fight in a war we have previously seen him want to protest (as Sally pointedly reminds him while also asking him “are you fucking stupid?”), but if he can re-establish his connection to Betty through this, then maybe there is a point. The same goes for Joan and Richard as his version of a post-divorce plan is ruined by Joan having a four-year old, something Joan inadvertently yells at Kevin about, but luckily her resentment is directed at the babysitter and then she feels like shit about it. Later on she snarks at Richard how she ditched her son for him.

There is a lot of disappointment oozing its way through the episode and a whole lot of side eye and angry face going on as demonstrated by this picture parade of brilliant reactions to dudes pissing off these ladies:

Mad Men 7.10 PeggyOh, Pete.

Mad Men 7.10 JoanOh, Richard.

Mad Men 7.10 SallyOh, Don.

And Sally isn’t the only one in Don’s firing line this week as Mathis takes Don’s ‘no apology’ advice after a horrific pitch meeting and ends up getting fired because he is no Don Draper. Mathis breaks the whole thing down saying how Don can get away with behaving like this because of how he looks and how the Lucky Strike story where he doesn’t give a shit about offending the clients is different in reality; it was only because Lee Garner Jr thought he was hot that earned him a valued seat in those meetings. Ahh, the handsome bubble. See expectation versus reality. You can dream big all you want but there will forever be obstacles in your way. Whatever magazines dare to envision for this new decade as hope springs forth will get mired down by what has come before it and the Vietnam War is not just going to go away because it is 1970. The past will haunt the present and while this allows us to dream for a better future, this won’t always be the case.

What do you see for the future?

Femininity, Menswear and Pattern on Mad Men

13 Apr

It’s May 1970 on Mad Men and the message is that some things change, some stay the same. Don’s penchant for brunettes in pain is one staple you can rely on and “New Business” opens with the exception to this rule. Yes Betty has been in pain, but she is never going to admit it and now she’s going to be studying psychology. Betty is smart remember (“I speak Italian“) and there’s part of me that would love her to be my therapist. No, really.

The tableau Don looks upon is the family he once had and he can’t go home as this family has moved on. So has Betty’s style as there is a softness here with frills and pattern.

Mad Men 7.09 Betty kitchen“New Business” showcases the women of Don Draper including Megan as she is in town to finalize their divorce and get the rest of her things from the apartment. Megan is as stylish as she has ever been doing Cali cool in a hoodie peasant blouse and flared jeans looking nothing like her more traditionally dressed mother and sister.

Mad Men 7.09 MeganFor her meeting with Harry, Megan dresses up in her “Welcome to LA” blue baby doll number prompting Harry to call her every man’s fantasy and that she looks like Ali MacGraw and Bridget Bardot had a baby. Harry does what Harry does and is the worst by hitting on her and then running to Don to call Megan crazy. Megan is incredibly fashion forward so it is strange to see her wearing something from a year ago, but it is obviously a look she feels confident in despite her lack of good acting fortune recently.

Mad Men 7.09 Megan and HarryPast and present collide for Don with elevator awkwardness and I don’t think Arnold would be cracking so many jokes if he knew what his wife Sylvia, had done with Don. Here we see sadness through the prism of the wealthy and the not so financially secure as Di has nowhere near the amount of money, but just as much pain. Di remarks to Don that he can’t know the amount of heartbreak and boy he should dish out the Dick Whitman routine. Don later gives Megan $1 million dollars and the feeling of ennui can’t be cure by money alone and there’s a whole lot of dissatisfaction running throughout this show.

Mad Men 7.09 awkward elevatorAnnie Hall before Annie Hall and celebrity photograph Pima Ryan sashays in with all her sexuality and confidence in a range of amazing tailored menswear. Pima seduces Stan after he is rude and abrupt when he first meets her and she tries her hand at Peggy delivering the super cheesy ‘I want to photograph you’ line. Mimi Rogers is incredible in this role as she plays Stan and Peggy sees through the hustle. On both occasions Peggy wears bold colors with strong patterns and while her style isn’t ever going to match the sartorial highs of her colleagues it is definitely improving. Peggy is still in control and showing her femininity at the same time.

Mad Men 7.09 Peggy and Pima

Mad Men 7.09 Pima and PeggyAnd because I can’t resist Pete Campbell in sportswear I will leave you with this beauty to round things off.

Mad Men 7.09 Pete and DonFrom these first two episodes alone I am so happy to see what Janie Bryant has already managed to do with the end of 60s fashion with a push into my favorite clothing decade.

Mad Men Music Monday: “Is That All There Is?”

6 Apr

Mad Men returns for its final episodes and the end credit music is asking the big question “Is That All There Is?” Peggy Lee’s half spoken track is also heard at the start of the episode in a scene which plays with the setting; is this a flashback to Don’s fur coat selling days? Is he in full seduction mode? Is he dreaming? The answer is none of the above; it is all an illusion and instead Cindy is in casting session with a couch full of dudes (some with new facial hair, oh hi Ted) all eager to take part in this decision.

“Let’s break out the booze and have a ball”

Mad Men 7.08 Sad DonThat’s what we should be doing with these last few episodes and everyone on screen is striving to make sense of what they have or what they want to have. Advertising is about wish fulfillment and these characters embody this idea albeit in a wonky fashion; Ken gets fired and instead of seeing it as a sign to write that novel he maybe dreamed of doing he instead takes another advertising position as big fuck you to the company that has shown him no loyalty. Joan is more than financially secure, but the original source of those funds can’t be forgotten when skeezy dudes don’t take her seriously and Peggy backs up this notion that it’s down to her appearance. So she goes shopping and pretends that she never worked at Bonwit Teller. And yes people will still go shopping even when department stores are being blown up with Joan proving Don right.

Peggy allows herself to dream a little suggesting an impulsive trip to Paris trip with Brian Krakow (!), but then she can’t find her passport and the hangover the next day leads to sourness towards what she deems is a ridiculous notion. But I can’t forget her post smooch smile as it was a joy to see. Groovy looking Stan is quick to point out this is what fun looks like and yet all Peggy can feel is the hangover shame.

Mad Men 7.08 PeggyDon seems to have it all, except for any real personal connections returning to an empty apartment and ringing his messaging service (oh hey a real life answer machine). And while he can still pull his old Don Draper moves there’s something so sad and hollow about it. From women in their underwear almost mirroring Megan cleaning long ago or a back alley hook-up which only takes place thanks to Roger’s $100 tip. Don repeatedly comes back to the diner trying to place the waitress and yes Elizabeth Reaser has more than a passing resemblance to Rosemarie DeWitt; so much so that at one point even I was questioning whether or not it was Midge. Seeing exes all over the place infiltrates Don’s dream world as he sees Rachel Katz (née Menken) modeling the fur as if she is in casting.

What this dream does is prompting a desire to reconnect, which doesn’t quite pay off as Rachel died the previous week and Don’s trip to her apartment doesn’t necessarily provide him with the closure he maybe desires. There was something about Rachel and in a way she was one of the ones that got away even if Don was the one who couldn’t commit. Instant seething at his name from Rachel’s sister Barbara with passive aggressive questions about his family (fair) while pointing out that Rachel had everything (I don’t know how true this is, but also totally understandable why she tells Don this). Barbara wants to know what Don is looking for by coming here and it isn’t surprising Don wants to know what happened to this woman he once loved. ‘The life not lived’ to echo Ken’s sentiment.

Is Don going to find out there is something more or that all there is?

Oh and one quick costuming bonus starting with how much do I want Peggy’s dress that looks like a pre-DVF wrap dress pattern dream?

Mad Men 7.08 Peggy and Joan dressIf you answered with anything less than a “crazy amount” then sadly you do not get today’s prize (today’s prize is a plate full of hot cross buns, may or may not be imaginary).

And Joan’s rage filled retail therapy includes a dress that looks a whole lot like Peggy’s hanging in the background, but there is no way Joan would ever contemplate mirroring Peggy’s style. Not in season 1 when she gave her the tour of Sterling Cooper and not now after that elevator argument that broke my heart. These two women are never going to be the BFFs I so crave them to be.

Mad Men 7.08 Joan shoppingI’m going to leave you with this and pretend they are going off on lunch time missions in a secret spy caper.

[Source]

Final Season of Mad Men Red Carpet Palooza

26 Mar

The final episodes of Mad Men are around the corner and while I’m still in denial that it is almost over poring over the red carpet celebration shots is pure joy. Last night AMC celebrated the show with a Black & Red ball, on Monday the cast were at the unveiling of a Mad Men sculpture at the Time & Life building and there was a special screening at The Museum of Modern Art last Sunday. A lot of sartorial highs from all three events with January Jones being the current cast member standout.

January JonesFirst up is January Jones wearing red and black Prabal Gurung at the Black & Red Ball. This is a really interesting dress with a variety of textures and embroidered detail. Jones tends to take risks playing with her look and I can’t wait to see what else she will be wearing on this huge promotional tour.

Kiernan Shipka black and red ballKiernan Shipka retains her style queen crown in a cute and elegant strapless tea length Miu Miu black dress and silver sandals.

Christina HendricksWearing a custom Zac Posen gown Christina Hendricks makes a dramatic statement at the Black & Red ball and while I’m not totally in love with this dress it has a huge impact.

Christina Hendricks minus skirtIt is special in another way as the ball skirt detaches and becomes this far more streamlined look. Two dresses in one! The skirt has a cape destiny if this shot of it being carried away is anything to go by.

Janie BryantCostume designer Janie Bryant sticks to the red of the ball in a beautiful frock of her own creation in collaboration with Black Halo. I cannot wait to see what final costume design treats she has in store for us.

jon hammI adore everything about Jon Hamm in this photo.

Vincent KartheiserMore beardy triumphs and this time from Vincent Kartheiser. Plus it looks like his hairline has mostly recovered from the Pete Campbell required shaving.

Mad Men castExcellent coat game from everyone at the statue unveiling at the Time & Life building in brr cold New York City on Monday. Individual awards for Jon Hamm’s socks, January Jones’ collar and Elizabeth Moss with weather inappropriate but beautiful shoes.

Mad Men ladiesRounding things off with the ladies looking lovely at MOMA with January Jones in a striking Preen dress and my favorite look from the promo tour so far. I prefer Christina Hendricks in ruby sequin Vivienne Westwood Couture to the Zac Posen twofer last night and Elisabeth Moss is more on the casual cool side in J. Mendel. They are very much their own women when it comes to their style choices and I don’t think we can be expecting matchy matchy ensembles with each other or something their character would wear.

NYFW Fantasy Costuming: Sally Draper in Red Valentino Fall 2015

16 Feb

Mad Men is coming to an end (*sob*) but we have time for one final Fantasy Costuming; previously we took a look at spring season threads for Megan Draper and now our attention turns towards a favorite teen fashionista, Sally Draper. Some Fantasy Costuming pieces have included items that have ended up on the shows they were picked out for and this will definitely not be the case here as a) they are not vintage b) they are not designed by Janie Bryant and c) the show wrapped some time ago. However, the Red Valentino Fall 2015 RTW collection features a range of clothes that suit both the time period to an extent and previous costumes Sally has worn.

This is going to be split into three groupings to represent different aspects of the era and Sally’s personality; as always the Fantasy Costuming selections are inspired by the costume design from the show in question – Janie Bryant – and are in no way suggesting this character should wear a specific item mentioned. Click on the thumbnails for a more looks for Sally.

Red Valentino Red Check

This is very school uniform Sally Draper – well maybe not the shoes – and Red Valentino has many plaids, flannels and checks on offer for Fall in a variety of colors. The capelets are super cute and hint at a charming youthful influence with some added tie and furry embellishments. Sally might be getting a bit too old for this style or at least she might think she is, skip to the final grouping of outfits if you want rebellious teen Sally attire.

The white tights are worn with each look and suit the sweet and sugary nature of the playful items in this group from the Red Valentino collection. These are the kinds of dresses Betty would probably love to see her daughter in (although the hemline length may cause some Betty objections) so there might be some resistance, but I think Sally would look fabulous in all of these for any fancy pants occasion she might have to attend with her family. Alas there are no white go go boots. Plus some very fun daytime suggestions for fall days in the city.

Red Valentino blue dress

And now for something Betty would probably not approve of with mismatched patterns and clashing styles mixing a hippy vibe with a little bit of rocker. Throw in some leather, a snarky attitude and staying out late to perfect the teen rebellious streak, which Sally Draper was already demonstrating when we last saw her including a cheeky backyard smoke. Kiernan Shipka could definitely work all of these looks.

Red Valentino tiger coat

Look out for more NYFW Fantasy Costuming posts this week!

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