October 27, 2009 / 2:19 PM / 10 years ago

Forget recession, let's throw a "Mad Men" party

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With the country in the midst of the worst recession in decades, some Americans are finding comfort in clothing, martinis and parties inspired by the award-winning retro TV series “Mad Men.”

Actor John Slattery as Roger Sterling in a scene from "Mad Men". REUTERS/AMC/Handout

Now on its third season, the show set in the advertising industry in New York has sparked a revival for the tailored suits, skinny ties, pearl necklaces and pencil skirts of the early 1960s.

“It’s a portrait of another time in America and I think from everyone there is a connection and enchantment with it,” said Sarah Capozzi, a clinical social worker from New Hampshire who is organizing a “Mad Men” party.

Although she is excited by the dress-up sense of the series, she also finds it a “bit comforting and therapeutic during hard times.

“(It’s) a chance to step outside of ourselves and come to a place in society where people answer the phone politely and wear fedoras to work or gloves while driving ... it’s civilized!” she added.

“Mad Men” follows the lives of sexist, unfaithful men and unhappy suburban wives living in a stylish world during an era when the civil rights movement was fighting to end segregation and achieve racial equality.

The New York Times newspaper said the series offers consolation to a generation beaten by “skyrocketing unemployment, plunging retirement savings and mounting home foreclosures.”

Even the characters’ chain-smoking and cocktail guzzling seems to add to their appeal.

The International Advertising Association New York (IAA), which is planning a “Mad Men” Christmas party this year, plans to deal with the smoking issue by offering candy cigarettes to guests.

Jill Cohen, IAA’s New York executive director, said the event aims to show people things can be fun again after one of the most depressing years in the advertising industry in decades.

“That era was when advertising really kicked off as an industry,” she explained. “And everybody that we talk to is totally excited about the 1960’s allure.”

“Mad Men” is also good news for vintage shops and retailers.

“I’ve been selling a lot of looks from the late 1950’s and 1960’s with all these ‘Mad Men’ parties going on,” said Lillyan Peditto, the owner of Family Jewels, a Manhattan vintage clothing shop.

Retail stores have also joined the craze with Banana Republic and Brooks Brothers launching lines inspired by the series.

“It’s definitely influencing designers,” Cohen said. “It’s becoming more and more mainstream.”

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