Mad Men S06 E3 The Collaborators

Thanks for all the great comments on my first blog last week. 

I thought, hey after this epic, I’ll have nothing to say or maybe a few short comments. After all, sets are not costumes, they’re expensive to build and the characters inhabit them regularly as its expensive to keep creating new sets.

But hey, I was wrong and instead found another 44, whittled to 29, stunning vintage-inspired details that will, no doubt, turn into another epic commentary on the style of the era and the meaning of the show.

This shot for instance is not only harking back to last week’s the Doorway, but is a great showpiece for the textured beige and peach wallpaper as well (more wallpaper below)!

To me The Collaborators was all about intimate interiors this week – the maid’s room, Trudi’s bathroom, the laundry, the brothel … and of course, the signature grey/blue that we saw all through last week’s episode.

Don vs Peg at work


Yes, the set crew certainly got tins of the stuff and agree it sets of all that lovely warm wood off beautifully.

But, scrolling through the screen grabs, especially the offices, I found that Peggy and Don’s office mirrored each other’s in colours and textile.

Note the blue wall and orange seating. It’s flipped in that Peg’s smaller seat is in neutral to Don’s client seats, but still there is a lot of similarity that can’t be put down just to era, but a deliberate indicator from the set designer.

There curtains are the same beige but while Don’s blinds are horizontal (flat line) and his work space is less cluttered, Peg’s is messy, busy and her vertical blinds suggest she’s going places – but is it up?

Note the stunning (blue) building we can see through Peg’s blinds. I’ve no idea where it is but it is a gorgeous additional layer to the scene.

Peggy also clashes with her environment – the magenta blouse, the blue cardigan and all those nick nacks, she is working hard and doesn’t have time to clear the decks.

For Don, it’s all on the inside and nothing showing on the outside.

BTW, peg and joan’s outfits mirror each other this week though they’re not sharing a scene. Are they both prostituting themselves at work in different ways?

Secrets of Mad Men – the blue boat
Unless you’re in advertising, marketing or graphic design you’ve probably never heard of the blue boat. Well let me enlighten you – a client comes in with a brief, for a poster say. You create the most perfect poster you can come up with and you’re mighty proud of it. It’s absolutely perfect.
Now you and all your mates know that no client just ‘signs off’ on work but you don’t want a single pixel altered so what you do is add a blue boat.
Now the client comes in, looks at the work, declares it perfect… except for the blue boat and wouldya mind just getting rid of it?
Well of course, your reply. Genius! We’ll do it immediately. They feel they’ve contributed and important, you feel clever and important. 
And here, in the client meeting room we see the blue boat – this is an intentional in-joke for industry. 
Style-wise worth noting the orange and yellow check cushion ads a pop of colour and that fab stone lamp. You can probably still pick these up pretty cheap at suburban op shops. Hell, your nanna probably still has one in the sewing room!

Time is MADening

Time ticking away was another key theme in this week’s show – with gorgeous clocks centre-stage in both Pete’s flirty scene’s with his neighbours and Joan’s equally charged scene with Bert.
Time is ticking away for these character’s – but which ones and what will become of them?

The Collaborators was all about interiors. The most intimate of interiors and usually not very nice ones. Maid’s bedrooms, brothels, laundries.

Certainly these interiors reflect Don’s dirty interior. We end the episode with him collapsing outside his chic NYC penthouse, unable to enter and face his wife. We’ve also seen him peeping through the keyhole of another door this episode, his pregnant (step) mother’s door as she pays her dues to his ‘uncle’ at the brothel he will now spend his formative years in.

Betty as a painted lady

Am I the only one who thinks Blonde Hooker is the spittn’ image of Betty? It can’t be a coincidence. Nothing much is on this show.

I bet that she’s going to be the one who takes young Dick’s virginity in later episodes.

While the fussy, florally pattern is certainly of the era, the house and how its appointed looks remarkably like the Francis house does today. Sure a bit less boudoirish, but still, eerily similar.

The interior of the brothel is shot up the staircase from above. I’m no cinematographer but I’m sure the ascending has some allegorical meaning and juxtaposes with last week’s Done & Dante’s descent into hell?

This is a classy joint. It’s depression time and the wallpaper is not pealing and everything is very clean and well presented.

You get a great view of the art deco light fitting from this angle too.

Florals feature heavily again in the Campbell’s home. On Trudy’s couch, in Trudy’s home, on Trudy.

All the patterns clash terribly, creating a sense of distopia in her life below the surface show of it all smelling like roses.

That aside, her couch could easily be in any cutting edge design houses today. It’s broad design and bold pattern on a plain background is very fashion forward.


Her kitchen on the other hand… well it’s a right old mess.

Again Trudy has a busy pattern on and all around her a clashing textiles.

Mad about wallpaper

Patterns continue, as was the era, in the wall textiles. And this episode we were treated to a lush array of stunning wallpaper – geometric to french provincial, blinds and fabrics.

The drapes match the carpet as they said except in this case it’s the curtains and the couch. Sadly, what’s a great fabric stretched taught on the sofa is fully hideous ruched and pelmeted.

However this matchy matchy textile schtick was big in the fashionable up’n’commers even into the 80s.

Note the gold lamp on Pete’s left. There’s a few around the house but it’s still a design that would bring additional layer to a modern, more simply decorated house. But the yellow telephone – LOVING IT!

 

 It might be the maid’s room but the abstract curtains and elegant lamp stem – never would have guessed. The bedside table is also very modern and I’d snap one up in an instant with its regular shapes and clean lines and beautiful natural wood.



Again, you can do this today with many reproduction or even original wallpapers and textiles. All you need is one feature wall or one gorgeously covered chair in a bold or textured print and voila you are tout monde madam!

Note that even the glass paneling is textured.
Actually, despite missing toilet paper, Pete has a lot better taste than Trudy from today’s perspective. The beige couch with the giant buttons and big arms is simple and distinctive, the paneling is of the era but still a beautiful colour palette (could have easily been an orange or amber don’t forget).
The coat rack is something I have been searching for FOR EVER! (If you have one its mine!) Bar the ugly cane bar stools (really Pete surely you could pick up some black leather ones anywhere), this apartment is very nice in deed.
I can’t leave without mentioning these technicolour washing baskets! I mean salmon and terracotta – what a swinging 60’s blast! I do love the square shape as well. With these ubiquitous colourful silicone tubs (enough already!) It’s nice to see a solid shape whose sides don’t collapse for a change.

On the other hand, why does Sylvia match the BLUE walls? She’s like a disembodied head – is she the devil or the angel on Megan’s shoulder?? Hmm.

Megan is sporting what our government likes to call dull olive – the exact colour now used on all Australian cigarette packaging to make it as unappealing as possible.

Megan is sad so she wears the (clinically proven) ugliest colour on the spectrum.

One last note

We saw Ted’s office this week which takes wood to just a whole nother level – I mean, does it turn into a Swedish sauna at night? Super table lamp though.

Note the aeroplane adornments – a wooden propeller on the wall and a miniature on the desk.

Ted is in a similar brown so Peggy stands out like a cardinal I suppose. 

Note the black leather arm chairs – yum!


Finally, I love the framing of the prostitute. Deeper and deeper we go like entering a warm, red vagina. There she is, Don’s Mrs Robinson – or whatever the right term is for this sort of tutelage  Again, I say here first, she will pop Dick’s cherry.

It’s also a great set for the era. Lot’s of doily, decorations and multiple textures and relief patterns, largely floral but some geometric. Such a departure from 30 years on where it’s all abstract and flat.
Again however, this is an expensive and classy joint. Everything is neat, new and lush.

See you next week.
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