‘Mad Men’ Costume Designer Janie Bryant Launches a Hot Collection for Curvy Women
Janie Bryant is best-known for her award-winning costume designs on Mad Men but now, the woman who turned Christina Hendricks’ Joan into a curvy fashion icon wants to bring her expertise to women IRL. On November 27, with the launch of JXB, a seasonless luxury collection for women sized 12 through 24, Bryant is doing precisely that.
JXB is made up of quality essentials in premium fabrics — think cashmere sweaters and Japanese denim. Bryant paid meticulous attention to fit details and design elements, crafting what she believes is the ultimate collection for plus women; one that retails from $98 (for cotton tees) to $1,100 (for leather pieces). “I’m super proud of it,” Bryant says. “It’s been a long time in the making. I’m so excited for the world to see it.” Ahead, the designer tells us why she’s finally giving the people what they want.
Brit + Co: Why did you feel it was important to create such an inclusive line?
Janie Bryant: It was really the women that I talked to around the country and internationally when I was designing Mad Men. During the release of my book, I had been traveling a lot, going to museums, fashion shows, and a lot outside of costume design. It was always the curvy girls saying, “I want to look like Joan. When are you going to design for us?” I’m such a fanatic for fit and the sculpting of bodies — and they needed something that was beautiful too. When I finished designing for TV shows and thinking about what I was going to do next, I thought about a contemporary line (size 0 to 10), but I felt I didn’t have much more to offer a market that’s so saturated. I wanted to really help people, make them feel beautiful.
B + C: What’s the main concern/complaint you’ve heard from curvy women over the years?
JB: That there were no clothes for them that were luxurious, high quality, and pretty.
B+C: You say this collection aims to go “beyond the traditional idea of ‘plus size.'” What does this mean to you?
JB: I honestly think plus sizing should be thought of as just sizing. I never understood the separation. It was always sort of like putting the larger sizes in a dark corner and not having a well-lit beautiful floor. Every woman deserves to feel beautiful and so much of that has to do with feeling beautiful in her clothes. I just want my line to be thought of as normal sizes, not something that separates us from each other.
B+C: Why go with the seasonless model? Do you think trends and seasons as we know it are going away?
JB: I love our model of e-commerce because I have direct communication with the consumer. Women like to buy things all the time so I love the idea of being able to put out new merchandise every six to eight weeks, and not something that’s tied to a season.
B+C: So what’s the most valuable piece in a voluptuous woman’s wardrobe, in your opinion?
JB: A great fitting pair of jeans! It’s so important to have that pair that just makes you feel like a million bucks. Our denim looks amazing on so many different figures. We’ve worked so hard on the denim, and the jeans fit so incredibly well. I’m super proud of them. The back waist rise is higher, so when you sit and stand and you’re moving around, you’re not tugging at them — people are always tugging on their jeans and I wanted to eliminate that problem. We also put a power mesh panel in the front for tummy area control. I love all those elements. We used Japanese denim that has amazing recovery.
B+C: Do you have a favorite piece from your collection?
JB: The rose gold leather moto jacket is a holiday party must have! Aside from the moto, I love the vintage wash denim jacket with the silver fringe. You look just as good coming as you do going in it — it’s so sassy, fun, and flirty. Our cashmere sweaters are beautiful too. For holiday, we did a cropped cashmere sweater that’s chic and fun. It hits perfectly at the waist so you can wear it with a high waisted skirt or jeans.
B+C: What’s your go-to outfit formula?
JB: Denim. I wear my scoop neck t-shirt, my favorite high waist skinny jeans, then I throw my moto jacket over my shoulders and add a pair of high heels. These days I love to add my Gucci belt and, of course, a great handbag.
B+C: Any advice for dressing curvy women for work?
JB: I LOVE a wrap dress for work. It’s so flattering to the body with its v-neckline, and it accentuates the waist. And it’s great for a date too!
B+C: Speaking of date night, any dressing tips?
JB: My leather flutter sleeve top and stretch leather skirt is actually super sexy for a date. It has everything. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take the zipper a little higher, and add a great pair of heels or pumps. It’s just flattering.
B+C: Any categories you’re hoping to expand into in the future?
JB: Oh, yes. I really see JBX as a lifestyle collection. I’d love to see it grow in many different categories. The categories I feel are really important in the short term are athleisure and lingerie. Oh, and swim! Those are three areas I feel like people struggle so much, and I’d love to expand those.
(Photos via JBX)
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