Mad Men exhibition at Chadstone

The other day I found myself with a bit of spare time in the Eastern suburbs, so (taking a deep breath) braved the wilds of Chadstone to visit their exhibition of costumes from the wonderful TV series “Mad Men”.

What: Mad Men costumes on display
When: Saturday 3rd December, 10-11am
Where: Chadstone Shopping Centre, luxury precinct.

More information at the website.

The shopping gods were smiling on me as my parking sport was very close to my destination – I don’t like shopping centres much, preferring to shop the old fashioned way with strip shops owned by independent businesses, and I didn’t fancy the idea of wandering around for hours until I didn’t know my own name. Even better, it was a quiet day and I had the display almost to myself.

It’s a fairly small exhibition but well set out: 11 (or 12?) mannequins fully accessorised, and next to each one is a photo of the actor wearing it. In between are period furniture, and props – a nice setting of the scene even if not all are true to the series (copies of the Australian Womens’ Weekly are conspicuous additions).

For me, it was an exercise in how much an actor brings to a performance – Joan’s dresses in particular lacked a lot without her personality – and figure – to fill them out. The pink dress looked kind of frumpy without her sashay and charmingly stern look. Betty’s fared better, although you can tell how petite she is when the dress can’t do up properly (but it was very nicely displayed regardless, see the blue silk ensemble). Peggy’s were the best – her figure and style suit the format.

It would have been nice to see more of the menswear, but the suits are displayed well with a good eye for detail. They all look very similar without the contribution from the actors though. A nice treat was the settings, doing a lot to summon up the world of Mad Men.

Is it worth a trip to Chadstone? That depends on how much you like the shopping centre and Mad Men I guess – I was glad to scoot back to my inner city enclave, but this is probably the closest I’ll get to Christina Hendricks et al. Sadly, the plastic barrier prevented me from sneaking a touch of the fabrics, as I’d love to know what they feel like.

Hover your mouse over each image to see the name of the character who wore it.


  1. Bit jealous you got to see the Joan’s Black and Red Rose dress! – it’s my favourite dress from all four series. Would love to know how its constructed – I am going to attempt to replicate it using applique of a printed fabric onto black. Thanks for sharing

  2. Trish, I haven’t seen that episode yet but I’m looking forward to it: it’s a beautiful dress but a bit lumpy as they’ve made an effort to pad the mannequin to Joan/Christina’s proportions but failed to do it well enough.

    I’m jealous you got to see Joan’s green dress at Chatswood! A pity they didn’t just stage one big exhibit with all the costumes and tour it, rather than break it up into three (or more?) cities. Poor Brisbane only got two dresses.

  3. Trish, saw the dress this afternoon while shopping at Chadstone, which is just 5 minutes away from home.

    Noticed the black and red dress – the flowers are cut from an original 50s/60s fabric that is quite thick and appliqued on in a basic way. If you want to know more about the dress construction, post a line with any specific questions and I will go back and take a good look for you.

  4. Sandy that is so sweet of you, I am thrilled to hear it’s been appliqued in a basic way – based on that info I can make an attempt! Thanks so much for the offer – too kind!

    Am going to up cycle a Woo’ Maggie 80’s batwing sleeve dress and applique handcut Spotlight Vintage-style printed roses, crossed fingers it works!


  5. Here in Sydney we didn’t get as many costumes as Melbourne. It’s a shame the mannequins didn’t do the dresses justice. But they were accessoried with the most beautiful vintage shoes. Notable were Betty’s swishy silk dress: white background, large spots in blue/green/yellow, shoestring straps & blue cummerbund & metal zip; Betty’s grey wool 3/4 sleeve dress with pleats; Joan’s blue dress with contrast printed silk trim; dress in olive green silk; Peggy’s red/black print dress with Peter Pan collar; one of Don’s suits.

  6. typo – shd read “accessorised”

    The spot silk dress was the one in the scene where she goes to bed still wearing the dress and makeup

  7. I am totally in love with peggy’s black and white check dress. I am determined to make it, will probably take millions of attempts but it will be worth it. The spot dress is gorgeous. hurt to see her slumping around the house in it!! Get some flannel pyjamas woman!!!

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