Which character has experienced the most development and change in their costumes this season?
Peggy. For most of the season we see Peggy working all the time and being undervalued and not appreciated. Her costumes reflect a bit of masculinity by most of the time wearing basic cotton shirts with her skirts and school girl jumpers. Then for the finale I wanted her in something strong and bold to reflect her new position at the agency.
How does a character’s emotional and personal development inspire you to design what they’re going to wear for a scene?
In [The Other Woman] there was a perfect example of how the costume design can really help to tell the story of the scene and really help the actors get into the mood. [In the episode] where we see Peggy with Chaough…in her deep V, double-breasted coat dress with the scarf, it’s the first time that we really see her out of that schoolgirl-like Peggy Olsen. I love what that whole episode is about; it tells the story of women like no other. In that scene Peggy is trying to be a little sexy, but the thing is, that’s not what she’s selling. Chaough offers her more money [and] I love that whole exchange, where it almost is mimicking Joan’s situation in a different kind of way, and Peggy is really coming into the knowledge of her value. It’s really exciting. The other scene is when Peggy goes to talk to Don.
I cried during that scene.
I know, I did too. I was there for a short time when they were shooting that scene [and] I just loved the story of that dark aubergine and the sadness of that dress. There’s a little bit of a melancholy feel to it. It’s a serious color, and actually that dress was given to me by this amazing woman named Alice. She’s from Queens and she had many, many dresses made in that same pattern with a lot of different fabrics and so she sent them all to me. They are all from 1966. I was just waiting and waiting to use one. A lot of the moments in Mad Men are about waiting for it…the payoff is really worth it.
Let’s talk about the men. One of the characters I love and hate is Pete Campbell. Seeing him in the office without a blazer on is almost shocking to me.
People really hate Pete. I’m always so fascinated by that because, the thing is that Pete, in some ways, is becoming Don. This year has been a really interesting year for the men, especially in the office. Matt Weiner and I have many discussions about the breakdown of New York City during this period–you’ll notice the art department and the production designer have done a tremendously amazing job with all of the trash everywhere. We really wanted to do that same thing with the costumes, have them being more broken down, a bit more wrinkled. Pete, as well as many of the other characters, have had those wrinkles added to their costumes, so that’s why you’re saying it’s been interesting to see a lot of the guys in shirtsleeves. We are just trying to show the fact that there is more of a casualness and more of a textural element to the costumes this year through breaking them down, rolling sleeves, having more wrinkles, and not being so buttoned up.