Archives for posts with tag: Mad Men costume designer

Mad Men series 6

It’s 1968 in the world of Mad Men. Or so say pundits speculating on the time jump for series six which debuts with a two hour special 7 April (US) and 10 April (UK). Your scribe is unable to watch since cable poached MM from BBC4, so no plot spoilers please. Nevertheless it’s hard to avoid blog speculations on MM6 set design and fashions.

Newsletters from a certain vintage and modern US design site drop into your scribe’s mailbox weekly. Adherence to a blog code not dissimilar to Queensbury Rules means your scribe won’t name the site, but 1) they seem to believe years beginning with 19 refer to the 19th century, and 2) their prognostications for MM6 sets are skewed to the pop end of the design scale. Yes, there will be pop art inspired elements, but your scribe hopes they are curtailed to clothing and the MM office is dressed to emulate textile maestro Jack Lenor Larsen.

Jack Lenor Larsen Mercury textile, 1969, Verel, metallic gimp, rayon, cotton leno weave. Collection Cowan & Tout. Image from Jack Lenor Larsen Creator and Collector by McFadden, Friedman, Stack, Larsen, 2004

Jack Lenor Larsen Mercury textile, 1969, Verel, metallic gimp, rayon, cotton leno weave. Collection Cowan & Tout. Image from Jack Lenor Larsen Creator and Collector by McFadden, Friedman, Stack, Larsen, 2004

Wealth was still largely “quiet” in the 1960s meaning it wasn’t the done thing to crassly broadcast earnings as is now the norm. Madison Avenue ad merchants might wear à la mode madras suits, but office decor would veer to luxe moderne rather than a surfeit of pop art modernity. Larsen’s 1969 Mercury cabin dividers for Braniff International Airways, prioritised materials, technology and technique without sacrificing a richly designed surface. Understanding the “worth” of Larsen designs was a sign of design discernment, and your scribe suggests senior partner Bert Cooper would recognise how Larsen textiles would complement his Asian art collection.

Jack Lenor Larsen Nimbus made for curtain wall windows

Jack Lenor Larsen Nimbus made for curtain wall windows. Saran, polyethylene monofilaments; woven and heat shrunk. Collection Cowan & Tout. Image from Jack Lenor Larsen Creator and Collector by McFadden, Friedman, Stack, Larsen, 2004

Larsen’s innovation-led textiles were appreciated by like-minded clients. Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP commissioned Larsen to design vertical space treatments for Lever House (1952), which coincided with their growing renown as the progenitor of International Style glass curtain wall skyscrapers.

Nimbus – still in production – demonstrates how Larsen’s decision to use the three metre width newly achieved by European textile mills in the 1950s as length, allowed him to dress skyscraper curtain walls from mullion to mullion with a single textile width. Simple idea? Sure. But Larsen was the one who spotted the potential, and it’s this type of irrational creativity that inspires the superlative set designers and writing staff of MM, and they in turn will drive millions to watch Mad Men this weekend. Your scribe thinks it’s time to buy that Sky subscription. DJ

First day of Spring 2013 is achieved, and now it’s almost time for sum, sum, summertime. Blazing glory is three months distant for northern climes, and yes London’s sufferance of summer gloom will likely continue, but nevertheless your scribe is thinking summer madras and madness. Fans of the American television series Mad Men will remember the eye popping splendour of Pete Campbell’s madras plaid suit. Too bold? Too bright? Too retro for now? Wrong. Madras has been a perennial US summer favourite since the Jazz Age (did fictional Jay Gatsby own Madras shorts? Likely), and its legacy is sterling. (Cont)

Osborne & Little Trapani Madras Spring 2013

Osborne & Little Trapani Madras Spring 2013

When Cole Porter sang “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun” he meant folk like Elihu Yale, i.e. denizens of the Northern Hemisphere who become intoxicated by the Southern Hemisphere’s hot sun on tap. Said to be the first Yank to wear madras, Yale spent 27 years as Governor of the East India Company at Madras (now known as Chennai), India. Local fascination with Scottish tartans is said to be the source for Madras plaid designs. Maybe Yale’s Madras office was decorated with a forerunner print similar to the portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie in a tartan suit which by comparison makes Campbell’s Mad Men madras look rather conservative. (Cont)

Osborne & Little Trapani Madras

Osborne & Little Trapani Madras

Your scribe longs for barbecues with dads in chef hats and madras board shorts manning the poolside grill, but in lieu of that and in expectation of a damp squib London summer, your scribe suggests SAD sufferers, Mad Men fans and Madras aficionados buy Osborne & Little’s Trapani from the Lorca Silk Road Collection. A riff rather than a replica of traditional Madras plaid, Trapani’s colourways include pink and Indian sunshine yellow which will lift spirits in any hemisphere. Whatever the source, Madras has stayed the course through preppy Ivy League alignment, to parody in National Lampoon’s Animal House, to Andy Spade’s recent reinvention of the classic. And so too Osborne & Little’s Trapani is the bright note sun lovers can count on for Summer 2013. DJ

Osborne & Little Trapani

Osborne & Little Trapani fabric