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Mad Men Makeup

Behind-the-Scenes Beauty Secrets of Mad Men


Love Mad Men? You're not the only one — practically everyone at Sugar HQ is obsessed with this brilliant show due to its tight writing, great acting, and amazing style. Seriously, who wouldn't love to look like Joan Holloway? As the makeup department head of the show, Debbie Zoller is responsible for creating these sexy '60s looks, and she's been kind enough to share a few secrets from the set. Soon, I'll share her tips for recreating Joan's sex-kitten look, but to read about the world of Mad Men now, read more.

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The '60s look is 100 percent authentic.
"I did a tremendous amount of research for both the first and second season of Mad Men. I used eBay a lot to order books and vintage magazines like Look, Life, and Ladies Home Journal. I designed the looks for the secretaries of Sterling Cooper from Sears catalogs and New York newspaper clippings from 1959 to 1962. I also asked members of my own family to send me photos from that period. Those were priceless!"

You won’t see any blue-ish lipsticks on the show.
"Because of the fluorescent lights in Sterling Cooper, I didn’t use any lipsticks or nail polish colors that had blue undertones. They popped out too much on film. I wanted everyone to look natural. I stuck to true reds, true pinks, and true corals."

For inspiration, Zoller looked at a famous Mouseketeer.
"Betty’s look is inspired from a book on Grace Kelly, classic perfection. For Joan’s character, I used a very famous red-headed model from that era by the name of Suzy Parker as inspiration. And for Peggy, I looked to famous young actresses like Annette Funicello to capture her naiveté."

Betty's lipstick speaks volumes.
"I pay special attention to Betty’s lips so when she speaks she feels like she’s being heard."

Everyone — everyone — on screen gets a specific look.
"The first thing that happens when I get a new script is a concept meeting with all of the department heads and Matt Weiner, the executive producer. He explains to us his vision and then we break off to do our homework and prepare. The costume designer and I will discuss color palettes for each character. Every actor, day-player, and background artist receives the same attention to detail. I then design their look from brows to lips to nails. Every actor, after they have been cast, comes in for a consultation with each department and then we do a test look. We take pictures and send them up to Matt for approval. The actors love it because they see the transition from current day to 1962. They are amazed at how they have been transformed in just a few hours."

Photos courtesy of AMC

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