Mad Men's Janie Bryant on Her New Reality TV Gig

Last Friday, we got a release announcing the development of a new fashion design competition reality show (since you can never have enough) that will be hosted by none other than Janie Bryant--costume designer of best-costumed show ever, Mad Men. We called Bryant up to chat about how the idea for the show came about, what other details she could tell us, whether or not she'll dress herself, and bidding farewell to Fat Betty.
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Last Friday, we got a release announcing the development of a new fashion design competition reality show (since you can never have enough) that will be hosted by none other than Janie Bryant--costume designer of best-costumed show ever, Mad Men. We called Bryant up to chat about how the idea for the show came about, what other details she could tell us, whether or not she'll dress herself, and bidding farewell to Fat Betty.
Photo: Palma Kolansky

Photo: Palma Kolansky

Last Friday, we got a release announcing the development of a new fashion design competition reality show (since you can never have enough) that will be hosted by none other than Janie Bryant--costume designer of best-costumed show ever, Mad Men.

Details are still being worked out, but here's what we know: It's being developed with Fashion Star producers E.J. Johnston and James Deutch; Bryant will be the host; it is inspired by the influence of film and television on fashion; and the working title is Janie Bryant's Hollywood.

“Hollywood has shaped fashion for decades,” said E.J. Johnston in a statement. “And costume designers are behind that cultural impact. Many of today’s viewers are obsessed with the costume design of their favorite screen characters. Now we can bring that art and process to the forefront with one of the best in the business. We think Janie will be the perfect host.”

Obviously, few television shows have had as obvious an impact on fashion as Mad Men--from designer collections to men's suit styles to Bryant's collaboration with Banana Republic.

And we're certainly curious to find out how that concept manifests itself in the form of a TV show. Our best guess: Each episode, designers are challenged to create an outfit inspired by a film or television show. The winner gets their design sold at H&M. Hayley thinks designers will be challenged each episode to create costumes for a certain TV show with the winning designs appearing on an episode, and the winner of the whole season will score an actual job in the costume department on a TV show. Again, these are just guesses.

We called Bryant up to chat about how the idea for the show came about, what other details she could tell us, whether or not she'll dress herself, and bidding farewell to Fat Betty on Mad Men.

How did the idea for the show come about? My agent from New York knew E.J. [Johnston] and I knew Jim Deutch and we all met together by coincidence at a Lucky blogger event and they were telling me they were working on Fashion Star and I contacted them after the Lucky event and said I have an idea that I would love to discuss with y’all, and so we sat down and started talking about it. I really wanted to do a design competition show but not just about fashion, but how the film industry in Hollywood really influences fashion--we’ve seen it with Mad Men, but this is not the first time; for many years people have been influenced by movies, by television shows, and that’s really where my idea came from for developing the show. The other part of it is fashion design and costume design and film are have always been my true passions and so I just really wanted to combine those elements and create something really special and new.

Can you give us any more details? I’ll be the host of the show and we’re not really talking about the exact format other than it is a competition show and there is a retail possibility. I’m so excited about it--it’s crazy, we’ve been talking about it for a long time and now that people know about it, it’s so exciting!

Are you nervous about being in front of the camera after so much time behind it? I’ve only really done interviews and been guests on TV shows, but yeah it’ll be my first time actually hosting a TV show. I’m totally excited about it; I started acting at a really early age and I was also a ballerina, so I did perform a lot as a child and I'm hoping those childhood experiences will serve me well. I’m looking forward to a new experience.

A look from Kors' Fall 2008 collection. Photo: Getty

A look from Kors' Fall 2008 collection. Photo: Getty

Will you do your own costumes? Do I have to do everything? [Just kidding] I don’t know--I was thinking that maybe I would design a dress for myself for every show. That would be a dream; and also if that was available for retail, that would be very cool...But I don’t know if that will happen.

When did you first start seeing the influence of your work in Mad Men in fashion and mainstream culture? It’s been such an interesting journey--I really started hearing about people hosting Mad Men themed events six years ago, which was really bizarre. People would send me Facebook messages and emails talking about how they were going to do a Mad Men birthday party and a Mad Men wedding and a Mad Men Halloween party--before I even saw the influences in the catwalk, I really started hearing about it in everyday lives of people. Probably the first collection that came out that was totally inspired by Mad Men was Michael Kors and then it really just continued with Prada, Thom Browne and really seeing a lot of the menswear changing as well and the whole skinny suit. And then designing the three collections for Banana Republic. There have been so many instances of seeing the huge influence of the 1960s in fashion it’s been incredible and it still really continues with the graphic and bold geometric patterns of the mod '60s and it’ll be interesting to see if that path really continues.

Speaking of this past season of Mad Men--were you glad Betty got back to normal? Yes. The fun thing was about Betty last season and part of this season was it was like a new character, really. It’s been really interesting to do the costume design for that character in all the different transformations that woman has gone through. Betty is definitely one of my all-time favorite characters for sure. I loved Betty's yellow gown. That moment was so spectacular because story-wise she had shed all the pounds, she was back to the old Betty, and so I really wanted it to be so glamorous and gorgeous and to illustrate that she was the queen of the ball in that moment.