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Style + Design

Don Draper Takes on the Capital 

Siobhan Reid gives a behind-the-seams look at Mad Men designer Janie Bryant’s take on The Watergate Hotel’s new 1960s-inspired uniforms.

See recent posts by Siobhan Reid

What do Don Draper and Washington’s iconic Watergate Hotel have in common other than their, ahem, scandalous reputations and notorious pasts?

It happens to be visionary Janie Bryant, the woman behind our favorite ad exec’s perfectly pressed three-piece suits and neat pocket squares. The LA-based costume designer, who has inspired fashion stars like Michael Kors and Vera Wang, has teamed up with the Watergate Hotel to create her first hospitality collection for bellmen, concierges, whiskey room bartenders and other hotel staff.

“I’ve designed everything from airline to restaurant uniforms in my television work, and it’s all helped to tell a story. This project was a natural fit,” says Bryant.

Set to open late summer 2015 after a multimillion-dollar renovation, the historic property was once a gathering spot for DC’s elite and has seen its share of political corruption. Remember that 1972 burglary that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation? It happened here. The hotel also served as a temporary refuge for Monica Lewinsky during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

It’s this scandalous history, as well as Bryant’s fascination with 1960s glamour, which inspired her collection. "There is a certain romanticism about that era," she says. "And the silhouettes that were worn then are still worn today, for both men and women." What we love best: the coquettish red windowpane sheath dresses on the female whiskey bar servers and the pants with gold camel piping, black topcoats and stylish Hamburg hats on the doormen.

If the hotel’s Mad Men-influenced style ushers in as much intrigue as Draper stirs up on any given day, The Watergate can expect another century’s worth of (dirty) business.

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