Banana Republic Makes Mine 'Mad Men'

Okay, here goes: I was never really into the whole Mad Men thing.

While the aesthetics are nice and all (especially that dreamboat Don Draper), for me, it's just a period drama that relies too heavily on the “look how backwards we used to be!” hook. Yeah, they drank and smoked while pregnant, and sexual harassment, racism, anti-Semitism and gender bias were the norm. And four seasons later . . . still meh.

(Last week, Kurt Sutter, creator of FX's biker drama Sons of Anarchy, accused AMC via tweet of throwing so much money at Mad Men creator/producer Matthew Weiner that the network had to cut costs elsewhere—playing a part in the firing of Walking Dead executive producer Frank Darabont. End of the line, Mad Men!)

In the latest PR trend, retailers link with television programs to promote collections—NBC and Bloomingdale's, Macy's and Alloy Entertainment (Gossip Girl, Vampire Diaries) . . . and a Mad Men-inspired capsule collection brought to you by Banana Republic.

Last year, the popular mall chain used the series in a promotional campaign. Now, the show's Emmy Award-winning costume designer, Janie Bryant, has teamed up with Banana Republic to develop a 65-piece clothing-and-accessories collection for men and women that's supposed to ooze the sassy sex-bomb, tailored look of the early 1960s. While the collection is fairly affordable—from $10 to $450—and very accessible, it does lack one small thing: The awareness that 98 percent of American women would look pretty terrible in the ultra-femme '60s silhouette. We're not all Joan Holloways.

In the collection's look book, ads and online store, the stuff looks fine . . . on a cute brunette with a perfectly swept up-do and cherry-red lips (though, the choice to pair some of the draped-collar dresses with too-large ankle booties is baffling). On anyone else? Frump city. The begonia-print dress ($150) is probably the worst offender, with its cap sleeves, pleats and grandmother-couch print. The animal-print cardigans ($89.50) and lace shell tank tops ($49.50) are probably the best bets.

The men's collection fairs better, with clean, slim cuts. (Stay away from the sweater vests, though.)


Follow me on Twitter: @VickieChang!


This column appeared in print as “Make Mine Mad Men.”

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