We can’t seem to stop talking about vintage, as illustrated by our recent panel with Iris Apfel and Norma Kamali at NY Women’s marketplace in New York, to our sit-down with award-winning costume designer Janie Bryant at WWDMAGIC in Las Vegas. From costuming 1960s-era series “Mad Men” (and resulting Banana Republic fashion collab) to 1930s-era “The Last Tycoon,” no one captures a period with clothing like Bryant does. She’s also a true vintage aficionado. She launched her vintage-inspired collaboration with Unique Vintage at MAGIC, creating contemporary pieces that channel a vintage vibe. Accessories Magazine Editor-in-Chief Lauren Parker grabbed Bryant between her booth appearances and her panel discussion for a quick chat on vintage and vintage inspirations.
Accessories Magazine: It’s such an honor to meet you and to hear about your latest project with Unique Vintage! What’s your personal favorite era for vintage fashion?
The 1950s. It has my favorite silhouettes and it’s the most flattering and flirty. It’s all about details, fit and fabrics.
But you haven’t costumed a TV show or movie from the 50s yet! Would that be your dream?
Well, [laughs] I don’t write the scripts, I just make the costumes. Maybe one day I will. I also love French Baroque, which is the 1770s, and I haven’t designed that yet either.
There’s so much “trend sameness” out there in fashion. What’s your advice to get women to experiment with vintage as a way to stand apart?
I don’t think vintage ever goes out of style. People are always searching for a way to express themselves and be different, and vintage encompasses all of those things. Vintage is made differently than fast fashion, and you can can always find very special accessories to signify your personality.
I’ve always been a bit challenged by true vintage as it doesn’t always fit me well. How do vintage-inspired collections speak to that problem?
That’s why you can buy contemporary with modern fabrics and modern sizing. Everything about the collection I’m doing with Unique Vintage is inspired from the 1950s―dresses, blouses, skirts and tops. It’s contemporary and we’ve created prints too. I love Katie Echeverry, CEO of Unique Vintage. She’s really smart and I love the whole team. They have a very specific understanding of how much people love vintage and the brand they created. The whole collection is vintage inspired, not actual vintage.
It seems like technology has really helped the vintage industry. It used to be that a trip to a vintage store was all about serendipity and the hunt. You never knew what you would find. Now, you can search the web for practically the exact vintage item you’re looking for.
Yes, you just type in this little word in this little bar and it magically appears.
Some people have a fear wearing a lot of vintage from one particular era because they don’t want to feel like they’re wearing a costume. How do you respond to that? In your personal style, do you mix up vintage eras?
Some girls love pure vintage, like Rockabilly girls. There’s a whole culture out there. It depends to your style. When I wear specific vintage pieces, I’ll always wear it with contemporary shoes, or a handbag or jewelry.
How can stores that don’t normally sell vintage try it out?
I think a pop up would be so fun, maybe hire a stylist to wear the pieces. Then consumers could see the person dressed in it, and see how they wear it.
Explain to our readers how a stylist is different from a costume designer. I think some erroneously use the terms interchangeably.
Stylists dress people in their personal style. Costume designers create characters. I start with a script, inspiration, break down the cast of characters, how they will be visually, create their entire closet. I have a crew… a different job. I don’t have a set job, I have a crew, it’s a different type of job.