August 20 2014

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Mad Men Makeup: It’s Baaack


Mad Men returns to the airwaves this Sunday for its fourth season of three-martini lunches, complicated affairs, and smoky arguments—and while the plot will undoubtedly explore new directions, don’t expect any dramatic changes in the characters’ looks. In other words, Joan will not abandon her signature coral lip. However, the series’ costume designer has hinted that this season will focus on the “mod, youth culture” moment and the cast will look “less done.” Intrigued, we spoke with Mad Men‘s head makeup artist, Lana Horochowski, about her creative process—which includes a ton of archival research—and the subtle beauty shifts we can expect ahead.

I know you’re sworn to secrecy about storyline details, but can you give us a little hint of how the characters will look this season?

Overall, we felt it was important to keep the characters’ looks consistent, to be true to their personalities. For example, Betty is the type of woman who hasn’t changed her hair or makeup since high school. Still, we wanted to acknowledge the current time period, so this season there is a slight Jackie O influence. But it’s very subtle.

What about a character like Peggy, who seems poised to redefine herself as this confident, successful career woman?

Peggy changes the most, as she’s evolved with the new agency. She experiments the most with her look this season. Peggy is someone who would look at magazines for inspiration. We actually found this great old ad for a makeup palette with an eye, cheek, and lip all in one. I think it was from Max Factor, and it had blue, green, pink, and different shades of coral. We thought, Peggy would buy that and play around with it. But she might not put it on so well; the colors might be a little smudged or imperfect. We try very hard to make it seem like Peggy does her own makeup.

So did you track down the Max Factor palette?

No, we color-matched it to what’s out today. We used current shades from NARS since they have such a great range of options.

Did you consult other vintage material this season?

Estée Lauder had an old lipstick ad where they showed all their new colors for the season on one page. So I called them and asked, is there any way you could go into the archives and color-match these with what you have today? And they did!

Also, the movie Cleopatra came out last year in the show’s timeframe, so we’re doing a heavy cat eye and nude lip. We realized that women might not change their entire look, but they would do something simple like buy a new nude lipstick, so we try to introduce new colors here and there.

Has there ever been a makeup color that’s eluded you or that you couldn’t find?

I’m always searching for the perfect pink lipstick. Today’s pinks have more brown and purple in them. It’s very hard to find a pure pink that’s not “age-defying.” I’ve looked all over and Laura Mercier’s Baby Lips is the best.

What were the “beauty highlights” of the season in terms of products—what did you use the most from your kit?

For Betty, I relied on a lot of MAC Amplified Lipstick in Impassioned, and on her nails, Essie Pink Lemonade. For Joan, it was Laura Mercier Lipstick in Tangerine. It’s a sheer bright coral-y lipstick that really brightens up against pale skin.

What fragrance do you imagine these characters would wear? Even if we can’t “see” it on screen?

I’ve never thought about that, actually! Joan would definitely wear something strong and intense because she likes to get attention. And Betty would choose a scent that’s lighter and classic. It’s funny, but I can only think of what I’m wearing at the moment!

Which is…

Bond No. 9 Chinatown. It’s a classic.


Photo: Carin Baer / AMC



  1. CindyK says:

    What a great article. I am SO looking forward to Mad Men starting again on Sunday!

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