Don Draper, Peggy Olson, Joan Holloway and Roger Sterling were back in action last night when “Mad Men” premiered the first of its seven farewell episodes.
After a 10-month hiatus (AMC split the final season into two parts), the show’s much-buzzed-about return ushered in a new era. We last saw the characters in July 1969, when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. The second half of the seventh season skips ahead to April 1970. The partners have a lot more cash in their pockets thanks to a buyout by McCann Erickson.
While money does not buy happiness (this is ‘Mad Men,’ after all), it could make for some captivating styles this season.
There were a couple of notable fashion and retail moments in last night’s episode:
1. Just in time for FN’s legwear and hosiery issue next Monday, one of the story lines revolved around two hosiery brands duking it out. The inexpensive L’eggs brand is stealing market share from Topaz, and Joan and Peggy are charged with coming up with a plan to get Topaz back on track — namely, getting the brand into higher-end department stores. Turns out that Marshall Field’s is a McCann Erickson client — so the duo meets with three male executives from their parent company in a scene that underscores the blatant sexism that defines the late ’60s/early ’70s workplace.
2. Another department store of the era — Mencken’s — is also in the spotlight. After Don dreams about his former flame, Rachel Mencken Katz, he reaches out to her regarding the Topaz situation and learns she has died, triggering a cascade of emotions during an already difficult and complicated time in Don’s life.
3. Joan makes a remark about department stores “being blown up,” alluding to a group that had been terrorizing New York with bomb threats.
4. With her new money in hand, Joan returns to the dress shop where she was once employed and goes on a shopping spree. She shows off some Palter DeLiso heels and tries on an Oscar de la Renta dress with pearl trim and marabou cuffs. Speaking of fur, the $15,000 chinchilla coats worn by the models were spot-on examples of the early ’70s luxe craze.
While we wait to see what else unfolds, click through our gallery of Mad Men-inspired shoes.