Hey guys, did you know that I'm on Goodreads? I just finished writing a (somewhat scathing) review of Janie Bryant's book, The Fashion File: Advice, Tips, and Inspiration from the Costume Designer of Mad Men, and thought I'd post in here in case any of you DIYers were considering picking it up. Enjoy!
The Fashion File: Advice, Tips, and Inspiration from the Costume Designer of Mad Men by Janie Bryant
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
What an utter disappointment. This book may be marketed as an insight into the costume design behind Mad Men, but the reality is that it has very little to do with the iconic show. Instead, Bryant presents a forgettable book filled with recycled style tips that might have been pulled from any generic women's magazine. Try getting a bra that fits! Oh, really? Thanks for that. In addition to this oh-so-original advice, Bryant attempts to show readers how they can incorporate elements of vintage style into a modern look. Note that by "vintage" she does not mean the New Look/early 60's style that the book purports to be about. Instead she attempts to cover most of the 20th century, reducing the Mad Men era to all of two pages in the only chapter dedicated to vintage fashion. Bryant does not seem to be all that enamoured of the fashions she designs for Mad Men. She even goes so far as to say that "you never want to look like you just walked off a Pan Am flight from 1962." I think that lots of fans of her work on the show would disagree.
Along with Bryant's recycled style tips, she also attempts to inject some body confidence into the book - which would be a good thing, if it seemed at all like she believed in it. Joan Holloway (played by the gorgeous Christina Hendricks) has been an inspirational character for the last five seasons of Mad Men. Her incredible curves have helped to reshape contemporary beliefs about female beauty, so you would think that the woman who dresses her would have some more insights into this phenomenon. Unfortunately, despite a few token statements about loving your body, Bryant urges her readers to outfit themselves to look thinner. In addition to this, the (admittedly talented) drawings throughout the book portray only one body type - the waif-like figure common in the same magazines that Bryant borrows her style advice from. In the chapter on Defining Your Silhouette, the thin (white) woman has a barely discernible difference between her bust/waist/hips, and several inches of empty space between thighs that could never touch. Joan Holloway has no place in this book.
If you're interested in this book because you'd like to read about the styles Bryant designs for the show and learn how to mimic some of those looks, don't bother. This book is not about Mad Men, it's about Janie Bryant. And it turns out that she's just not very interesting.
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