Reviewing the design ethos of Mad Men

An expert looks at the dresses, architecture and cinematography

The glossy style and clever writing of Mad Men seems to inspire critics to reach for a similar sort of sophistication in their responses to AMC’s hour-long drama, which returned this week for a fourth season. Few observers, though, can match the acuity of Martin Filler, veteran architecture critic and author of books on, among other things, Frank Gehry. In this blog posting, Filler looks at Mad Men’s “cunningly detailed, not-quite-couture female costuming”; its “boxy glass-and-steel” corporate International Style office space; and the way scenes are often shot from low camera angles pioneered by Orson Welles’s “master cinematographer Gregg Toland.” But Filler ends this finely observed ode to the Mad Men look with a twist—slamming the director for indulging in “throwaway” references to tragedies of the early 1960s, such as the death of a civil rights worker in Mississippi.

New York Review of Books

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