Mad Men’s Costume Designer Janie Bryant Visits Parsons

by Sarah Wheeler, Fashion Publishing

Parsons students and faculty recently had the pleasure of hosting guest speaker Janie Bryant at our 7th Avenue campus, located in the heart of New York’s fashion district.

Bryant is an award winning costume designer having been nominated for several Emmy awards for “Deadwood,” and most notably “Mad Men.” In 2011, the Costume Designers Guild honored her with a nomination for “Outstanding Costume Design for Television Series – Period/Fantasy,” for her work on “Mad Men”, an award she had won for the past two consecutive years.

Bryant’s ability to converge the very separate entities of fashion and costume design successfully distinguishes her from her fellow designers. Her collaboration with Simon Kneen on the design for the Banana Republic/Mad Men Collection in August 2011 was so well-received that the company launched a second collection. Bryant has also added to her commercial appeal by helping create a Fabric Care Guide in conjunction with her role as Brand Spokesperson for the Downy Wrinkle Releaser brand.

Apart from having received critical acclaim for designs, in person Bryant charmed the intimate audience with her tales of growing up in the south, sharing her formative experiences– watching movies like ‘Gone with the Wind,’ her parents reluctance to support her creative endeavors, the plight of unpaid interning, the complexities of living in New York and finally to her move to LA.  In the end there was a silver lining that comes with hard work and persistence. It was reassuring to see the successful end-game of her struggles as an aspiring member of the fashion community.  I appreciated her openness and ability to relate to her audience.  This ability to exchange herself with others is probably a contributing factor in her ability to accurately design the look and psyche of disparate points in history.

Bryant, generous with her time and honest in her assessment of the industry, gave us students a much-needed pep talk — for me personally at least; a student trying to navigate her way through the matrix of fashion on her own terms.

— When Bryant is not busy dressing the cast of Mad Men, Bryant is occupied designing capsule collections for QVC, Maidenform and Nailtini. And currently resides, with her husband and dog, in Los Angeles.