Friday, February 13, 2009

Mpls goes back to the '50s

The cast of "Mad Men," courtesy Vanity Fair
The '50s are back - and bigger than ever. The success of Mad Men, the drama set in 1959 Manhatten ad agency, probably has a lot to do with it. Men are drawn to it, undeniably for Don Draper's man's-man, ladies' man, man-about-town appeal; and women adore it, too - mainly for the fashions. In fact, many are imploring costume designer Janie Bryant to create her own clothing line, making the fashions of MM available to ordinary women of every shape and size. (Glamour recently did a great interview with her.) There's something about the cut of '50s clothing that is flattering on every body type, and draws a bit more glamour into the everyday.

Image from "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" by T. Charles Erickson

Minneapolis is paying much attention to this trend. The Guthrie Theater's latest production, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, filters Shakespeare through the style and feel of the '50s. There is a pompadoured crooner in a skinny suit, a '50s-style television set where the show is "taped" and broadcast on two big screens, and ladies in head-to-toe matching ensembles. My favorite is a look worn by leading lady Silvia, consisting of a blue-and-white dress trimmed in red polka-dot fabric, worn with perfectly-matched red polka-dot gloves and shoes.

More fabulous '50s ensembles from the production:

All Guthrie images by T. Charles Erickson
If you'd like to go, I've got a deal for you: Now through March 29 at the Guthrie Theater, take advantage of this exclusive ticket deal: $20 on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Call the Guthrie Box Office at 612-377-2224 and use code "A74." (Regular prices $29-55.)

In other '50s-related events, the Minnesota Historical Society is presenting a three-part series on popular culture in the postwar years of the 1950s and the '60s. "History of Hip: The Big Pitch: Advertising in the '50s'" looks at Post-World War II America and its newly booming economy and newfound spending power. This lecture series explores the legacy left by this era of advertising includes perspectives from University of Minnesota faculty Melissa Williams and Carmichael Lynch founder Lee Lynch. (7:30-9 p.m. Tue. $6. 21+. Turf Club’s Clown Lounge, 1601 University Av. W., St. Paul. 651-259-3015.)

A '50s-inspired look by Calpurnia Peach from RetroRama 2008

And finally, RetroRama is once again happening at the Minnesota History Center on May 21. The fourth edition of the Minnesota Historical Society’s exploration of retro style steps somewhat away from the ‘50s to include four other stylish decades of American fashion. This year’s local designers who reimagine looks of the past include Max Lohrbach (1920s), Ivan Idland (1930s), TBD (1940s), Calpurnia Peach (1950s), and Sarah Holm (1960s).

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