Monday, September 22, 2008

Mad Men: The Women - Season 1, Episode 1

Cast of Characters (in order of appearance):

Midge Daniels = The Modern Woman
Peggy Olson = The New Girl
Joan Holloway = The Bombshell
Dr. Greta Guttman = Our "Man" in Research
Rachel Menken = A Woman with Power

Midge is dressed in slim black pants and a white shirt tied at the waist over a black lace bra. Apparently, the shirt is a man’s but at this point, we do not know if it belongs to Don. This allows for the belief that she is not his “mistress” in the strictest terms, but instead the “modern woman” and he might not be her only lover. She informs Don in the morning that she” does not make plans and does not make breakfast.” We find that she is an independent illustrator who lives alone, works late, and normally may or may not be alone at that time of the night.

Our first look at Peggy is in the company elevator as she is checked out by her future co-workers. She is wearing a tiny yellow hat, simple pearl earrings, and a simple ponytail. Later, after she has removed her coat we can see that she is wearing a loose yellow Henley-style sweater with three-quarter length sleeves and a mid-calf-length full circle skirt. If she replaced her sensible black pumps with a pair of saddle shoes and bobby socks, she would look like a stereotypical "bobby soxer" from the 1940’s. The show being set in the early 60's is accurate in that the full skirt for day was still very popular even as the pencil skirt and "wiggle-dress" were moving into popularity. Peggy's naivety and newness to a job of that caliber is obvious when you realize her clothing most closely resembles that of the girls in the “Nerve Center” than the girls visible out in the secretarial pool.

Joan is first seen in an extremely form-fitting dark green dress with a modest and detailed v-neckline. Though obviously voluptuous; there is no visible cleavage, the sexiness of this outfit is implied and enhanced by her posture. Her only ornamentation is a small rhinestone broach, gold earrings and a very thin belt emphasizing her waistline atop her slim skirt

Note: No pictures from this episode were available from AMC for the next two female characters.

This is a shame because the
firm's German female researcher, Dr. Guttman, obviously was not a favorite of the men, perhaps because of her presumed lack of sex appeal, hence, her nickname, "our man in research". Costumed in a three-quarter-sleeved gray suit with rounded collar, this suit is worn with a gray ascot blouse. Her suit is adorned with rather large fabric-covered buttons; therefore, the two places where color could have been introduced (her blouse, buttons) were also done in the same dull gray. Though her suit does have a straight skirt like Joan's, this one is much fuller and not fitted to her curves. Her accessories of pearl earrings, dark-rimmed glasses on a chain around her neck, and a stiffly shellacked bob, also do not tie into the 1950’s appeal of either Marilyn, Audrey, or Grace.

I don't have a picture to show you of Rachel Menken's first appearance on Mad Men, so I'm using this picture from the third episode. It was oblivious to the men in the meeting, but the first sight of Rachel Menken should have told them at least some of what they were dealing with. This woman had both money and style. While they have a hard time connecting Menken's, the department store with Chanel, the upscale boutique, a woman might not have had such a hard time. Sitting in front of them was a perfect example of “the Chanel woman,” complete with the magenta tweed Chanel suit with braided trim and pearls; two strands at the neck and three at the wrist. Her cigarette holder was also a clue that she most definitely was not a housewife. This woman knew exactly what kind of customer she wanted because she was that customer.

I'm leaving out Betty Draper for this episode only because she comes in as sort of a surprise to let us know that Don has a family. I will definitely make up for this omission next episode. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

I just spent the weekend watching the first six episodes on DVD and can't decide which I love more, the clothing or the decor. Or Peggy's cute little bangs in the first episode, which get a little less cute as time goes on - wonder what's up with that.

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