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Bananas for 'Mad Men': Premiere and parties kick off continued partnership

July 22, 2010 |  1:35 pm


The style-minded madness of "Mad Men" is back in full swing  -- and well before Sunday's Season 4 premiere on AMC.

Things kicked off with a Tuesday evening screening of the season's first episode sponsored by marketing partner Banana Republic (there were so many RSVPs, the screening had to be moved from a smaller venue to the Mann Chinese 6 Theatre at Hollywood & Highland), followed by small party in the garden of the Chateau Marmont and an intimate luncheon on Wednesday at the Sunset Tower Hotel that included the show's Emmy-nominated costume designer, Janie Bryant, and Banana Republic's creative director, Simon Kneen.

Most of the cast was in attendance at both the screening and the after party; stylish standouts included Christina Hendricks in a black lace Dolce & Gabbana dress, Elisabeth Moss in a one-shoulder Oscar De La Renta number, and an adorable Kiernan Shipka (who plays the Drapers' daughter, Sally) in a bubble dress, sitting perfectly poised, hands clasped politely in the roped-off VIP section of the party.

We'll cede to series creator Matthew Weiner's request not to divulge any potential spoilers -- but we will go out on a limb and say it could just be the single best episode of the series to date -- and it was chock full of the funny. When we mentioned that to Jon "the Don" Hamm when we ran into him at the Chateau after party, he told us the whole season was full of the funny. (And although Weiner said he's always thought of the show as funny, you have to admit that although last season had its moments of levity, overall it was pretty heavy).

Of course, the big question on everyone's lips was how the look of the period show (which started in early 1960 in Season 1ne, and ended Season 3 in late 1963) might have changed. Although the upcoming season starts around Thanksgiving 1964, wardrobe-wise the only noticeable change was in Peggy Olson's ramped-up professional look (new hair, new makeup, new clothes) that signifies her growing self- confidence.

"It hasn't changed," Bryant confirmed. "It's still no breaks [on the pant cuff] and slim fits for the men. And you have to realize that not everyone is wearing the newest fashions every year -- just like we're not all wearing the Balenciaga boots that were in Vogue last month."

Bryant said the sea change of  '60s style is still a ways away from the folks at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. "It doesn't really change in the world that 'Mad Men' inhabits until about 1967." (Is there anyone else out there excited at the prospect of a Season 7 sideburn-sporting, turtleneck-wearing, bellbottoms-doffing Don Draper?)

(Bryant has her own style book on the way in October, "The Fashion File," penned with our former colleague, Monica Corcoran Harel, who calls the costume designer "the anti-Rachel Zoe.") 

On Wednesday, Banana Republic hosted a luncheon with members of the fashion industry press to highlight the Gap brand's ongoing partnership with AMC -- which, this season, in addition to another installment of its "Mad About Style" booklet (essentially a guide on how to achieve a quasi "Mad Men" look with off-the-rack Banana Republic pieces), includes a series of video blog conversations between Kneen and Bryant about style that will start posting here on July 24.

The two had never met before they were on set with the video cameras about to roll, Kneen said, but it turns out they had a lot in common. "It was the day after the Emmy nominations were announced, so it was kind of surreal. We both have a real obsession with tailoring, we're both really passionate about it, and we ended up talking about all those little details -- like how a button can mean so much, or the pick stitching of the lapel on a jacket. But what I found most fascinating was the way she creates a whole collection for each of the characters for each season."

"He's just as obsessed with menswear as I am," Bryant said. "And we ended up having so much fun I said to someone: 'Be careful, or Simon and I will have our own TV show soon.'"

Truth be told, that's not a mad idea.

-- Booth Moore and Adam Tschorn

More "Mad Men" coverage on All The Rage

'Mad Men' leads a revival in vintage clothing

Arlo Weiner, sartorial scion of 'Mad Men' creator, serves up style advice

Brooks Brothers dapper Draper caper

Photos: At left, cast members Christina Hendricks (left) and Elisabeth Moss at the Season 4 premiere of AMC's "Mad Men" at the Mann Chinese 6 Theatre. Credit: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters. At right, "Mad Men" costume designer Janie Bryant and Banana Republic's creative director Simon Kneen at a luncheon promoting their soon-to-launch video blog conversations about achieving "Mad Men" style. Credit: Banana Republic