Mad Men: The fashion label

The early-1960s sartorial elegance from the US advertising drama has inspired a line of clothing for wannabe Don and Betty Drapers. Susie Mesure reports

Sunday 23 October 2011 04:40

The US series Mad Men may have scooped Emmys for being the best show on television, but its real stars do not even have speaking parts. The sleek suits of its advertising executive Don Draper, and rear-enhancing sheaths of Joan Holloway's secretary have a cult following all their own.

And now the hit show, which is set in a 1960s Manhattan advertising agency, is rolling out Mad Men-branded clothing lines that could see the series give Sex and the City a run for its money in the style stakes.

First up is a limited-edition grey sharkskin suit for Brooks Brothers, which goes on sale online tomorrow. But Janie Bryant, the show's costume designer, plans to add evening gowns, men's accessories and office wear.

"For Americans, it was our Camelot era, with John F Kennedy and Jackie O," she said. "There's a real nostalgia for all that; although, for the younger generation, it's all fresh and new."

The Mad Men aesthetic has already been all over the catwalk, inspiring designers including Michael Kors, Peter Som and Miuccia Prada. It has also featured on the high street, specifically at Banana Republic, Bloomingdale's and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Clare Coulson, fashion features director at Harper's Bazaar, said: "Visually, the whole package is so sumptuous. I think people will buy the spin-offs. People really identify with that era because it's very feminine and people feel nostalgic about it."

Lauretta Roberts, development director at the trend forecasters WGSN, called the decision to launch a branded clothing line "a logical conclusion to fashion magazines looking to shows or films for inspiration, and then telling their readers how to buy those looks in the shops".

She added: "It's hard to say if it will work. It really depends on how literal it is. If it's 'in the style of' or 'inspired by', then yes, it could well do OK, but no one wants to look like they're going out in costume."

Robert Johnston, associate editor at GQ, said he thought the lines would do well. "I think it will work better in America because Americans are more easily led than we are, and feel more confident with a label, whereas the British are more anarchic. A certain British man would be embarrassed to wear something from a TV show."

Ms Bryant said that any women wanting to channel Mad Men should start with a classic sheath. "You can make one so modern with a great pair of platforms and add accessories from the period, such as a brooch or lots of pearls." For men, she said, it was about details such cufflinks.

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